People blame themselves, even when they’re not at fault

6 Sep 2010

One thing that’s never changed in usability testing is seeing people blame themselves for problems, even if the product is clearly at fault.

I’ve collected (anonymous) quotations from participants over the years Some of them are funny, but they make me wonder how often people feel stupid while using a computer.

Here are some favorites quotations:

  • “Back here again. Why are we here? Why are we back? Because we failed. We’re being punished.”
  • “This is my error. I have a habit of not reading things completely, so it’s not the system. It’s the user.”
  • “Maybe it’s just me… I feel like a moron now.”

I point out to participants in usability studies that if a product lets them do something that seems wrong, it’s not their fault, but people always assume that it is. This is not to say that every design has to protect every user in every case, but it’s important to know how people react in these situations and avoid problems where you can.

There are other  interesting comments, too. One of my favorites:

  • “They’re watching me on video? I’d have gotten a manicure if I’d have known that.”

More See more comments where people blame themselves for problems with software and hardware products.

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