Objections to UX – and rebuttals

This page provides a list of actions that you can take if your stakeholders are skeptical towards UX. Skepticism often takes the form of objections to UX, which can be humorous or sarcastic. There’s also a list of what you can say in response to objections (rebuttals).

Keep in mind that objections sometimes have a grain of truth in them.

Overview of this page


Objections

TypeObjection
Number of usersIt can't be a problem if only 2 users had it
Number of usersUX research is not statistically significant
BiasHow do you run these studies without biasing these people?
RecruitingWhere do you get these idiots from?
Not realisticThis isn't what people would do in the real world
Not realisticSure, we could bring some strangers in to test our product for ease of use...but that could take all afternoon and cost at least a hundred dollars. And all it proves is strangers are stupid
TimelinessWe don't have time for this, for example talking to users, usability testing, A/B testing, analytics
TimelinessWe'll get feedback after release & adjust from there
TimelinessWe already do market research
DefensivenessWhy are you attacking me?
PerfectionI want my stuff to be absolutely perfect before you get your hands on it
ExpertiseI know more than the users (and you as well)
ExpertiseI have been working in this area for 32 years. I know our customers. How long have you been working here?
PositionHow dare you criticize a lofty personage such as myself?
PositionI’m the designer on this effort. Who are you to critique my design?
PositionWhy is your opinion better than mine?
EffortIt's too much effort to make these changes
InnovationI have an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree and you're just crimping my style
WorkloadI'm already trying to make 18 people happy; take a number
Group thinkEveryone else is on board with this, why aren't you?
MoraleThese people worked so hard on this for 2 years, we can't make them feel bad
MoneyWe're getting bonuses, how dare you rock our boat
MoneyMy annual assessment is based on whether I get the product out on time and under budget; usability isn’t a factor in how my work gets measured
ValueI don’t see the value of this
ValuePeople have been working with this for 5 years and no one has complained, so why do we need to do this?
ValueI don’t see how your recommendation is better
ValueWe've done it this way before
ValueThis way is equivalent (as far as I know) and easier to code
ValueWhat’s the point? Can I get back to real work now?

I gratefully acknowledge the contributions to this list from Cliff Anderson, Ilona Posner, Bill Killam and Ginny Redish.


Humorous or sarcastic objections

Cowboy programmers don’t need no stinkin’ usability test
No system is so foolproof that it can't be brought to its knees by a well-intentioned novice.
User: A device that terminates a “wait” statement
If it was hard to code, it must be hard to use
It is impossible to build a fool proof system; because fools are so ingenious.


Rebuttals

QuoteCredit
Users: Those things that make it possible for us to pay you Matthew Oliphant
There is no free lunch. But sometimes if you eat a good breakfast, you won't need to spend as much money on lunch Cameron Hayne
The joy of an early release lasts but a short time. The bitterness of an unusable system lasts for years.Anonymous
Good programmers are good at what they do precisely because they don't think like users. Alan Cooper
When you get programmers to eat their own dog food, you end up with dog food that tastes great to programmers. But will it taste great to dogs? Stuart Burnfield
Computer literacy has nothing to do with intelligence Jeanne Marie Laskas
A whole lot of companies went out of business because their users were too 'stupid.'Randolph Bias


Actions

Objections to UX are common in organizations that are at a low UX maturity level: Hostile, Incomplete or Performed.

To boost UX maturity in an organisation that is at a low UX maturity level, carry out activities that clearly demonstrate the benefits of systematic UX work, for example:

  • Run a usability test – not primarily to find usability problems but rather to show skeptics that there are usability problems in their product (“their baby”), and that methods are available for finding and correcting these problems before they harm users.
  • Engage stakeholders in the usability test.
    Invite stakeholders to participate in the planning of the usability test. Ask stakeholders to observe usability test sessions and participate in writing the usability test report.
  • Conduct usability tests of low-fidelity prototypes with project management as observers or test participants.
  • Create user journey maps in workshops with management.
  • Encourage management and stakeholders to use their own products and services, like a customer. They may never have used their company’s products.


A grain of truth for the UX professional

Objections to UX sometimes have a grain of truth in them for the UX professional.

  • Listen to feedback – even if it is inconvenient
    Pay careful attention to feedback from your primary users. Your primary users are developers, management and other stakeholders Avoid superficial dismissal of objections to your work.
  • Avoid one-way communication
    Discuss with your primary users and correct any misunderstandings in your reports
  • Practice usability – don’t just preach it.
    Set a good example. For example, make sure your presentations and reports are usable. Start with your usability test reports. For example, do all usability test reports produced by your organization use exactly the same layout?
  • Sell UX and yourself.
    Prepare an elevator pitch. Have a 15 second answer to the question “What are you doing?” ready. Make sure your answer is usable. Inform management about your successes and – if you dare – your failures.
  • Understand your own context of use
    Do a listening tour. Learn what matters to your non-UX colleagues through one-on-one interviews of stakeholders.