Donnerstag 22 Februar 2018

Look for super-objectives: the art of unveiling true user goals

People (both real and characters) have veiled goals they won’t tell. In business, just like on the stage, you have to serve those veiled goals, and not what is said.

In theatre, you start with a text written by someone else. Your character says things and other characters reply. Problem is: you have no clue what they mean, or what their inner motivations are, when reading from the script. You have to go beyond the words and seek the true goals of your character. And test it on stage over and over until you find the right goals, the right inner motivation, that will _make_ your character say the words they say and do the things they do.
In method acting, we call that their “super-objectives”.

Finding the super-objective of your character means going on a quest for their inner motor, something that you will not find by reading the lines in your bedroom, but by putting it to the test on the stage.

The situation is the same when designing. We are told what the users want, we may have access to information from a survey, or even to the transcripts of interviews. But that only tells us what people say, not their true motivation. A tool they say they want to use, and even a task they say they want to perform, is not a motivation.
For instance, filling one’s timesheet has never been an inner goal (really, does completing a timesheet fill you with joy and fulfillment?).

Our job as designers is to go beyond what we hear, to guess as best we can what the true inner goals are for our users, and to build an answer to them.

Note that I said “guess”, because you can’t just deduce what they truly are. That is why you have to test them. Put them on trial. Prototype them as early as possible and confront them to the reality, the truth, of the stage.

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