TechCrunch – Go Ask Grandma: How To Design For “Normals”

Editor’s Note: This guest post is written by Nir Eyal (@nireyal) and Katy Fike, PhD (@innovate50). Katy is a gerontologist and partner at Innovate50 while Nir is a founder of two startups and blogs about technology and behavior design at

As web watchers, entrepreneurs, and investors search for the next big thing, they’d be wise to focus on innovations that can be easily adopted by technology novices. A recent string of companies, including Groupon and Pinterest, have found success outside the early-adopter digerati by building products simple enough to be used by just about anyone.

Designing with tech novices in mind can mean the difference between staying niche and going mainstream. Here are three principles for designing software for people Silicon Valley too often disparagingly calls “normals.”

1. What’s it for?

Don’t tell them “how it works” or “what it is” and certainly don’t tell them how wonderful your company is. Just tell them in big, uncluttered, blatantly obvious terms what your service is for. Novice users need to know when your service would be useful in their lives.

Take a look at Twitter’s homepage for new users. It says simply, “Welcome to Twitter. Find out what’s happening, right now, with the people and organizations you care about.” Same story at Facebook. “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.” Brilliant! Now the tech novice knows, in no uncertain terms, when and why these sites would be useful. Twitter is for knowing what’s happening and Facebook is for connecting and sharing.

More of the TechCrunch post from Nir Eyal and Katy Fike

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