By Steve Coppola

An early morning find on Reddit perfectly frames one of my favourite UX mantras. In fact, the “Desire Path” concept dumbs down a few usability fundamentals in a refreshingly simple way.

Have a look at these two images:

Sure, this is really basic stuff. The world is full of Berea College examples. But what University of California, Berkeley, has done is inspiring. What can we learn from this?

Don’t try to change customer behavior

Well, obviously. Let your customers define the way they want to interact with your product or service – never the other way around. This kind of insight is gold, and should be the primary influence on how we design, market and support whatever it is that we’re selling.

No one can flawlessly predict behaviours – least of all, consumers
As I’ve ranted about before, traditional customer research techniques all too often give us dirty data for two reasons:

  • Human beings in general aren’t great at accurately predicting their behaviours. In other words, what sounds good one moment may play out entirely different in another.
  • Even if we could predict our feelings, behaviours and preferences, most of also happen to be pretty miserable at putting them into words. So while we may sometimes have a good sense of what we like/dislike, communicating these feelings can be sketchy at best.

Research, test, build – and then do it again
Whether we’re talking software or sidewalks, conditions are constantly changing. Believing that what was successful last year will yield the same results this time around isn’t just lazy – it’s downright stupid. Our customers’ behaviours will always be a moving target. And it’s only by keeping a reading on their actions, their sentiments (passive and active) that we can stay relevant.

For more great insights from Steve, check out his LinkedIN page.