We are facilitators and we extract knowledge from others.
Then we structure that information into an experience, a flow, an interaction that allows the user to reach his goal.
Therefore we have to be comfortable with asking. We need to ask stakeholders what it is that they are doing, what they wish to achieve, what they need. We need to come back to them repeatedly and ask them to explain it all again, when we have finally understood which questions to ask. We need to ask them what they think of our proposed design, in whole or in parts. Whether they prefer this over that and so on and so forth.
There are many ways we have to approach our users but one of the easiest is to do an impromptu usability test.
When I say usability test a lot of people think that involves an hour long visit to a laboratory where a test is conducted in a room with recording equipment and a two way mirror. That’s not what I am talking about at all.
What I’m talking about is a user, something he can poke at and you. That’s it.
Take a look at the picture attached. That is a wonderful example from the Museum of Science in Boston. An ongoing usability test. It was probably enough for them to leave this out for a weekend to get an indication that they could work with. They had a question on a Friday (which button should we use) and on Monday they have data to base their decision on.
They were not afraid to ask.
So, do you have a question?
Is it formulated in a sketch/prototype/running software?
Is there somewhere you can find people that fit your user profile? (I know of a Norwegian design company that loves to use IKEA).
Then go! It’s a lot more effective than you sitting here trying to find the answer on the internet.