Want to know what your customers want? Ask them.

Ran into a great anecdote at the Contrast Blog:

In 2007 I was sitting in the boardroom of one of Ireland’s renowned universities listening to a group of stakeholders fight over the label used on a web-form. One side thought the users called it an RFPN number while the other was adamant it was a “Prop Number”. The conversation grew increasingly heated, one side demanding we usability test both and the other pointing at me saying “We hired you to solve this sort of problem“. I snapped out of my daydream quickly.

They watched horrified as I went to the corner of the room and started ringing professors, administrators, and researchers. After 10 phone calls, my research findings concluded that it didn’t matter what label we used. No one fills in that part of the form anymore. They didn’t even know what it was for.

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