Chapter 60. Avoid Convenient Examples

One of the most common design mistakes is to forget about less common user behavior. If you only use ideal content in your wireframes, your design might break in real life.

If your design works well for 90% of users, it’s broken.

In my experience, conversations about UX design focus on the way you want users to use your stuff, not the way they could use it. That’s dangerous.

If you hear yourself saying things like, “Most headlines will probably fit on one line,” or “Users probably won’t have more than a thousand friends anyway,” or “Most of our users will probably use their face as a profile picture,” you’re creating opportunities for failure.

How Short Can It Be?

What if someone chooses a period as a title? Or leaves it blank? Or makes a one-word description? Or, what if their whole blog is just single word posts?

It is tempting to imagine everybody doing normal things, but people are creative and weird. Maybe they are writing articles about punctuation or maybe they run a “word of the day” blog, or maybe they don’t need one of your features. On Pinterest, people regularly “skip” the description by typing a single period. If you need users to click that text to navigate, they are now trying to click a single period.

How Long Can It Be?

This is the more common mistake when designing: to forget the really long possibilities.

In 1999, singer/songwriter Fiona Apple’s second album title was an entire poem. I have seen a trademarked company name that is 40 ...

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