Blog by Raam Shanker

Why Designing for the Average Will Result in the End Product Being Less than Average

Have you bought a ready stitched suit? How did it fit? Have you got yourself a suit made to measure? How did that fit? What fit you better and why? Give these questions a thought.

In the realm of product design, a common pitfall emerges when designers attempt to cater to the “average” user. While the intention is to create a product that appeals to a broad audience, the paradoxical outcome often leads to a less-than-average or even poor-quality end product. This phenomenon is encapsulated by the age-old adage: “In a quest to please everyone, the product ends up pleasing no one.

The Myth of the Average User:

Designing for the average user presupposes the existence of a universally representative individual. However, in reality, the diversity among users is vast and multifaceted. Attempting to mold a product to fit the characteristics of an imagined average user overlooks the nuanced preferences, needs, and behaviours that vary widely among the actual user base.

The Homogenization Trap:

In the pursuit of universality, there is a risk of homogenizing the product, smoothing out its edges to conform to a perceived average. This often results in a bland, generic offering that lacks the distinctive features that could make it exceptional or tailored to specific user groups. The product becomes a compromise, failing to truly resonate with any particular demographic.

Ignoring Edge Cases:

Designing for the average may mean sidelining the needs of users who fall outside the perceived norm. Edge cases, which represent users with unique requirements or preferences, are often neglected in the pursuit of a one-size-fits-all solution. Consequently, these marginalised users may find the product inadequate or, worse, unusable.

Uninspiring User Experience:

Products designed for the average risk creating a mediocre user experience. Rather than delighting users with tailored solutions, the generic nature of the product can leave users feeling indifferent or dissatisfied. It lacks the spark that comes from understanding and addressing the specific pain points and aspirations of different user segments.

The Balancing Act: Designing for Specificity:

Rather than striving for a one-size-fits-all approach, successful design embraces specificity. Tailoring products to the unique needs and preferences of distinct user segments allows for a more authentic and meaningful connection. We acknowledge that different users may require different solutions.

Iterative Design and User Feedback:

Iterative design, coupled with continuous user feedback, forms a dynamic process that refines the product based on real-world user experiences. This approach acknowledges that excellence lies not in universality but in adaptability and responsiveness to user needs over time.

Conclusion: The Quest for Quality through Specificity:

In the pursuit of creating high-quality products, designers must resist the allure of designing for the average. Instead, they should embrace specificity, recognizing the richness of diversity among users. By doing so, designers can break free from the paradoxical trap of trying to please everyone and, in turn, create products that genuinely delight and cater to the diverse needs of their user base.

Don’t you want to create products that genuinely delight and cater to the diverse needs of their user base? Why not get in touch with us and let us figure something out!