Have you ever had a time where your assumptions about your users were proven wrong?

I'll go first: I'm working at Pause - we're a B2B SaaS tool that helps people take time off and organisations to plan work better, through a shared calendar and slack integration. I'll be honest — we thought of birthdays and work anniversaries as cheesy annoyances, so we nearly left them out. But for the sake of experimentation we kept them, figuring that, by making it optional to fill in these dates, most users wouldn’t have a birthday on Pause, rendering the feature useless and proving us right. Except we were proved wrong. A large percentage of our users did fill in their special days. There’s more: when we asked our users what their favourite feature was in Pause, they said—wait for it—birthdays. It turns out that many of our users also offer birthdays off to their employees! So after speaking to our customers and HR experts, here's what we learned. It can be super hard to remember birthdays and work anniversaries. In a professional setting, they might not even seem that important. But they’re still two dates that some people hold close to their hearts. Acknowledging and celebrating these dates doesn’t cost much (especially if you go down the wishes route), but it can help build a good workplace culture that values people. So, why the heck not, right? So what about work anniversaries? Almost all our beta customers asked for the addition of these special days on their own. They wanted to help their teams connect as humans while working remotely, saw a lot of positive engagement around birthdays, and decided to celebrate more days that are appropriate in the workplace. Bottom line: You are not the user, so quit making assumptions Have you ever had a story where your assumptions about your users were proven wrong? Share them below, we'd love to hear them too ❤️

Replies

Product.Design.Research
Short answer - happens all the time! :D I will extend the discussion, thought I get that your example was more from a Product Design/Scope perspective...in my case the assumption that I had was if the Product is well designed and built, users will follow and adopt your product as if its a Pied-Piper. While needless to say that assumptions about Product needs to be made and validated, its equally important to understand the pre and post journey of the product. Distribution for example doesn't get the Twitter love as much as talking about Design. In the very relevant example you made about special days - Birthdays, Work anniversaries...so does Birthday means that Users are ok to be disturbed (they feel nice or belonged when people wish them) or does it mean that they want a Pause and want to spend time with the friends/family, etc. You are not definitely not the user and no two users are the same. This is where understanding Users and therefore User Research comes in, perhaps thats another thread!
Don't follow me here.Remove your account
We once made a loyalty app for Irish farmers and while A/B testing some icons we asked them what did they think the heart icon next to the product meant. We assumed they'll all understand it's to Like a product and add it to the likes list. 67% of them said it means the product is healthy - i.e. good for the heart. Didn't matter if it was next to a can of Coca Cola. After that we always add labels to icons 😎