Freud and Ford; listening and uderstanding

By Emerson Niide
January 22, 2014

There's an interesting quote probably incorrectly attributed to Henry Ford about consumer research: "If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said 'a faster horse'".

Sure, that could have happened. But, in research, you can't take literally what your consumer says. In fact, Jakob Nielsen says the first rule of usability research is never listening to users --but paying attention to what they do instead.

If we did get the "faster horse" data from research, the result could still be Ford Ts: what the consumer really desired was better transportation, and that's what a car is. At least, when there isn´t much traffic. 
 
No consumer will ever tell you which product you should develop, nor why people aren't using your app -- it's your job to use the data to find it out. That's the difference between listening and understanding your consumer.

Think of data analysis as Freudian analysis: what really matters is not what people tell you, but what is behind it - and, of course, what they don't even realize they're telling you.


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