I Don’t Know. And You Probably Don’t Either

Introduced first on my private email list.

“I don’t know” is certainly the most common answer I give to my clients’ questions. That may sound crazy, but I actually think it’s the smartest thing you can say as a freelancer. I have worked with hundreds of different products and industries in over 10 countries and 3 continents. Drones, medical stuff, technology, education, networking, social media, high tech, delivery, alcohol, festivals, apps, etc, etc… How could anyone possibly know everything about all these industries? How could you possibly know every detail about their audiences, specifics needs, user behaviours and expectations? You can’t.

Of course there are common practices, general user experiences, universal design rules, but when we get down to the specifics, we can’t know it all. So whenever a client asks me a very specific question such as: “Which onboarding process should I use?” “What content should I go with?” I always reply, “I don’t know… yet! BUT I know how to find out, and when I do, I’ll deliver you the most informed and creative answer you’ve ever heard.

1. Ask your users

Life is surprising and users can be too. I’m constantly amazed by survey responses and client feedback. You think you know something, and then…

Some great tools exist out there, like www.typeform.com to create nice, simple surveys. Ask a limited number of clear, concise questions, and you will no longer need to guess what they want. In addition, it’s actually a great engagement strategy: you establish a dialogue with your users and they feel included in the improvement of a product/service they use… Everybody wins!

2. Test answers / ideas

You heard of A/B testing? Give everything a go once (twice, even!), because if you don’t try you’ll never know. Although testing is great, it must be done correctly: Define the target, KPI, time period, relevant parameters, quantity of users, etc. If it’s done under the right conditions and in the right way, testing a hypothesis for your product or service is a great, step-by-step way to achieve the best results.

3. Be bold.

There is a myth in the creative world that you can improve conversion rates, user engagement, and even sales by 250%, by simply changing the color of a button, or a single word in a headline. That just doesn’t happen. Changing the color of one element on a page will never drastically alter your results. If you are willing to try another approach, it’s got to be significantly different to obtain significantly better results. Change the whole home page structure, or the full onboarding flow. Go bold or don’t do it.

After years of working for startups and advertising agencies, I’ve noticed that the biggest barrier to great work and creativity is not money, time or technical limitations but MENTAL obstacles. We base way too many choices on intuitions, feelings, and opinions.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard in meetings: “Mmm… I‘m not really feeling it, let’s just not do it” or “I don’t think the clients will like that, kill this option”.

How do you know? What makes your opinion relevant? How much weight should be given to your personal taste? Try one of my strategies so that you’re basing your decisions on solid data and information. You’ll have more confidence in your choices and definitely give yourself a better chance to attain the optimum product or service for you clients.

Have you tried any other processes? How often do you ask your users/clients about what they want? What was the last big change you tried out? Let us know!


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Creativity and talent teamed up to ensure the quality of these articles:

Adrien is the founder of Creatives Without Borders and a creative designer working all over the world. If he isn’t climbing one of the 7 summits or running a marathon, you’ll probably find him consulting about UX & UI for tech startups somewhere between Montreal, New York and Paris.

Christy is a talented writer and educator based in Busan, South Korea. She is involved in research for the Korean HIV and Aids Prevention organization. When she is not baking elaborate birthday cakes for her friends’ kids at 3am, she is organizing the (2nd) largest LGBT event on the peninsula. And she has a cat named 여름이.