I’ve been doing quite a bit of usability testing lately, and what I really enjoy about it is how different each person/participant is. It keeps it interesting, because people never react to questions or complete a task in the same way, so I learn something new about the product (and about people) from every test.

Then I came across this post on the ThoughtWorks Studios blog, and I thought, yes! We should be designing for activities, because no two people are ever the same, even if they share the same demographics or career tracks or opinions. The only commonality is in activities and behavior, even if the individual reasons behind the action are distinct.

I also attended a lecture at the NYPL with John Irving the other night, and he shared (sort of) a similar view about writing. He was discussing how he was shaped at a young age by reading Dickens’ David Copperfield and how it questioned why adulthood was boring and dull and nothing to look forward to, and that one of the reasons he was drawn to writing (and I’m paraphrasing here) was that “people never said or showed or revealed enough.”

In a way it’s similar to user research. The people I interview never reveal enough. There could always be more, one more tidbit to explain their perspective, their experience. I’m fascinated by how they think and act and then explain those thoughts and actions to me during a test session, because the answer — what varies (the variable y!) — is never what I expect.

Maybe that’s why I like writing, too. I just want to know “why” (y).

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