Self-referential design (aka why usability testing is important)

By William Jeffrey Rankin, Sat May 19 2018

Some notes on why self-referential design is a problem, and why usability testing is important.


  • The team will have changes to the product design in mind: enhancements or new features.
  • There will be overlap in the design changes desired among the team members.
  • Usability testing will confirm that some of the changes suggested by the team are necessary.
  • There will likely be many unanticipated discoveries: completely new issues, designs thought well-vetted present difficulties for users, and those thought of as clunky prove to be intuitive or usable. This is why we test!
  • Takeaway: Self-referential design will cause you to fix problems that aren't there, and miss real problems that would have been discovered through usability testing.