Anders Steen Thoresen

Never underestimate the predictability of stupidity

Never underestimate the predictability of stupidity, a quote I first heard in the british movie Snatch, in that movie it describes the very predictable behavement pattern of simple individuals with a common goal.

I allways liked this quote as it speaks to me on many levels, especially when it comes to creating good user quality in websites and apps online. It tells you to make sure you cover all the bases, to not only think like the preferred users within the ideal customer group, but also the “predictable idiots”.

Its common to focus on behaviour patterns of what users want to do and achieve when visiting the website. But whats often forgotten is how to predict the behaviour of the “stupid” users, the ones that doesnt understand or isnt familiar with common best practises. When working with quality assurance is use to say that its good to look at the best practises and test for all the positive cases and outcomes, but you should also test things as if you where a “monkey wearing boxing gloves”.

Its off course impossible to test for all the stupid in the world, this isnt feasable. But what you can do is look at the predictable patterns of stupidity and learn from them.

Stupidity can be many things, it can be something simple like we all know what happens when you release a new version of a website and it requires the admin users to clear browser cache. You get alot of requests to reset users passwords, since most people have this saved in the browser cache. You dont have to go through this many times to quickly create a lost password feature on your site.

One good thing about stupid users is that they tend to find new creative ways to use the solutions and sites, and if you use this to your benefit you will end up creating even better solutions.

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