As a designer, you engage users (people!) to understand their needs and gain insights into their lives. You also draw inspiration from their work-arounds and frameworks. When you speak with and observe extreme users, their amplified needs and work-arounds come to light. This helps reveal meaningful needs that may not pop when engaging with the middle of the bell curve. And the needs of extreme users often coincide with the needs of a wider population.
How to engage with extreme users
Determine who’s extreme
First identify the aspects of your design challenge you want to explore to an extreme. Then think of extreme users within those facets. If you’re designing a grocery store, you might consider how groceries are gathered or how payment is made as aspects to explore. Honing in on gathering groceries, extreme users might include people who gather recyclables with shopping carts or product pullers for online buyers.
Observe and interview extreme users just like other folks. Look for work-arounds (or other extreme behaviors) to spark inspiration and uncover insights.
Look at the extreme in all of us
Look to extreme users to spur wild ideas. Then narrow in on what resonates with the primary users that you’re designing for.
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