Kill your darlings – breaking out of the comfort zone

Whether you want to develop an app, a website, a game or similar, you should always have the needs and expectations of your target groups in mind. It’s important what your target audience want and not what you think is cool. So put your personal feelings behind you and start to think about what’s really important to your users. And how do we get to this data we’ve to do user research and then use exactly this information. Just a little hint, I am telling you this from personal experience: Don’t forget about it through the process of prototype development.

From User Research to User Experience

First of all, you need to know what your target group wants and expects. Therefore, user research is the right way. User research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis and other feedback methodologies. User research aims to improve the usability of products. Therefore, it uses the above-mentioned techniques to guide the design, development, and refinement of a product. But to be fair, the user doesn’t always know what he/she wants. This shows us the example of the development of the first iPhone. No one every would have said if Steve Jobs had asked them, that they would exactly need this in their life. And now 11 years later — we can’t live without it. At least, I certainly can’t.

What’s at the end of user research? User experience (short UX) describes the experience that the user has with of a particular product. The “experience” should really be felt by the user as such. Because only if the users connect a positive feeling with your (digital) product, they will continue to use it. The user experience also determines if and how long a customer stays in an application or if he/she leaves immediately. It affects not only the immediate use of medium, but also the brand perception and whether a user recommends an application. The goals of the individual user plays an important role: Achieving them easily and satisfactory is a rewarding experience, often describe as “joy of use”. This in turn can lead to increased sales and profits for companies. The term “joy of use” describes the “fun” of using the application.


Development of a prototype

„In writing, you must kill your darlings.“ – William Faulkner

This literary advice refers to the dangers of an author using personal favorite elements. In other words, you have to get rid of your most precious and especially self-indulgent passages for the greater good of your work. Everything you think that your app needs, features you think it would make your it cooler. Forget it! You have to let go, even if you believe that your idea is the best one on earth. If it doesn’t fit the needs of your target group – be like Elsa and “let it go”!!!

You don’t have to be ashamed, it can happen to the best of the best of us — it happened to me before … When developing a prototype, one quickly falls into the trap of one’s own behavior patterns. I know that if I ask you now, you could name more than one situation where this exactly happened to you before. Let me tell you a story, for one of our project works we had to create a prototype. And we repeatedly fell into the trap, that we wanted to enrich the app with features, because we were so convinced of our own ideas. In doing so, we started from our personal preferences and assumptions — without having checked, if the target group thinks also the same way as we did. And to be honest, it wouldn’t have ended well after countless (frustrating) discussions, unless we were finally ready to say goodbye to our favorites, our own wishes, hopes and expectations — our “babies” — and faster than you could believe, we had found a uniform solution. Often, it’s not so bad to put your own opinion behind you, also if it means to move out of your comfort zone and follow ideas you are not totally on board with. Because, this idea could be exactly what our target group wants.

Simplicity Rules

Another thing we (re-)learned during our project work was: Keep it short and simple. Don’t pack your app, website, etc. with unnecessary and too many features. Even if the features are so cool and a must – at least in your opinion. Just keep it as simple as possible. The user won’t have the patience to spend hours with the app to figure out all the “cool features.


To sum this blog post up: Do your homework. Start with user research and stick to your findings. Then try to combine these findings with your ideas and the ideas of your colleagues. Next: KILL YOUR DARLINGS and start again. And the most important thing — don’t give up! In the end everything will be fine, if it’s not fine, it is not the end.

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