Is your goal to make the user successful?

Ben says: “The goal of a project is to make the user successful at what he wants to accomplish. Go ahead, read that previous sentence a few times. It’s one that would do well to sink in.”

Is this true?

He expands on this by saying that “the code isn’t the main output of the project and is therefore the most important deliverable… if you’re concerned about helping the user reach her goals, then you’ll be more likely to make the money, or at least be a trusted partner if you’re not out for a profit.”

I’d like to offer an alternative viewpoint here

<The goal of a project is to make the user successful at what he wants to accomplish.


The goal of a project is to achieve its objectives.

This may, or may not, make the user successful.

An example.

Interruption advertising, politics, negative PR campaigns, nag-ware, and other ‘projects’ that are not related to pleasing the customer.

Another is customer support and call centers. It would appear they are trying to please the customer, but in my experience, they’re often trying to get rid of you. Try to return a product and see how easy/hard it is.

Maybe if we re-phrased this to:

The goal of technical communications is to help the user accomplish what they wish to achieve.

Then, if you have a common vocabulary (i.e. the users, writers, and developers) all have the same understanding, then, maybe, maybe, maybe, they’ll come to some form of agreement.

By the way, I think people want to be understood but making the effort to put yourself in someone else’s shoes — that’s hard work.

Is this true?

Do developers really understand what users want? And if not, whose responsibility is it to flag this?

Is it mine? Or yours? Where does the buck stop?