A new approach

I remember having elaborate discussions on user profiles, with my clients. How ‘tech savvy’ users are, or not. Lot of assumptions thrown around, sometimes old research data supported these assumptions and we moved forward in drafting user’s profile; assuming their technical readiness for the app or software, we are about to design and build for them.

However, what I have learned in my experience is that you can never clearly define the ‘tech saavyness’ of a user, let alone based on gender, age, education and social status. In fact, we should focus on the word ‘tech’ in ‘tech savvy’.

“Users are evolving in the way they use digital devices; older research data about users is becoming more and more obsolete”

Today technology is ubiquitous, people cannot escape using popular apps, gadgets and machines with sophisticated interfaces at work, while traveling and even at home. Usage of technology is becoming more diverse than before, be it iOS or Android, Windows or Mac, Fitbit or AppleWatch. Each person is developing his own pattern in using technology.

Soon, technology will also help us document and understand these ‘usage patterns’; Devices and softwares you’ve been using since childhood, through your formation years till your adulthood. Understanding you as a person can be quantified by the sum total of all your online usage and experience. Patterns can dig deeper than you may know or admit about yourself. Decisions that you didn’t know you are making (subconsciously) can be picked up by pattern study.

So where to from here then?

With this rapidly upgrading technology, users are constantly evolving. Earlier, to understand users and their behaviour, questionnaires were prepared based on demographics attributes and then assumptions were made. This will change and has to change. The lingering question in the minds of most designers and product managers is, how do we understand and design for this ever evolving user?

The answer is to focus on user’s past behaviour and history of device or app usage rather than demographic attributes like gender, age and educational background. Focus on what apps do users have on their phone? where do they prefer to shop online? how do they update themselves with information and news?

Understanding usage patterns will make you more confident in the choices you make about the product and its design.