False consensus effect
The false consensus effect is the phenomenon and tendency to overestimate the degree to which other people will agree with you, think like you, and behave like you.
How the false consensus effect impacts business
It’s not entirely surprising that organizations—including the most successful ones—fall prey to the false consensus effect. In fact, it’s probably where the popular user experience maxim comes from: you are not your user.
Think about all the times organizations believe that they’ve come up with a breakthrough product or feature—one they believe their users will love as much as they do. Only to find out that after launch, the market doesn’t respond how they expect it to.
Typical users don’t think and behave the same way that you or people who work for your organization think they will. Which begs the question: how do you avoid falling victim to the false consensus effect?
How to avoid the false consensus effect
Building a new product or feature always comes with risk. This means you’re likely making important decisions based on limited information. And that requires you to make assumptions—either implicitly or explicitly.
There’s no way to avoid uncertainty completely, but you can reduce the probability of failure for your product by identifying the assumptions you’re making about what your intended users need—and then testing their validity before starting the expensive process of development.
Here are a few strategies to help you challenge your assumptions (and reduce risk) by collecting hard evidence to validate your product and design decisions. (You can learn more here.)
- Identify your assumptions
- Conduct interviews with your target market
- Continuously conduct remote usability testing