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Wishing Well

In folk tales, peasants who are granted three wishes invariably seem to call disaster down on their village. If you ask users directly what they want, they will typically ask for more features. If you simply respond like some obedient software genie, you will unleash another epidemic of creeping featurism (Chapter 35). Worse, the surveyed users may not have a clue what to ask for, but, flattered by the attention and taken by the sense of responsibility, they will just make something up. Then the real trouble starts.

To the user, the user interface is the system. To find out what is needed or what is right and wrong with a given system, you do need to go to the source. If you don't ask, you probably aren't going to find out. Developers who rely on their own expertise or judgment alone, or who trust spontaneous feedback and complaints from customers, put themselves at a competitive disadvantage.


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