Counter-arguments for 4 common usability change roadblocks

4 min read
Jennifer Aldrich
  •  Nov 4, 2015
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So you’re getting constant feedback from clients about a specific usability issue. You meet with stakeholders to discuss it, but you hit a wall of resistance: they don’t want to change the problem-causing experience.

As tempting as it is to just tell them they’re being morons, it’s your job as a designer to educate stakeholdersTwitter Logo so they understand why changes need to be made.

“It’s your job as a designer to educate stakeholders.”

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Let’s talk about some counter-arguments you can use to cover 4 of the most common stakeholder roadblocks.Twitter Logo

1. “Our audience is highly technical. They’ll be offended if we dumb down the product.”

Lesson: Improving usability isn’t equivalent to dumbing down a product.Twitter Logo

Counter-argument: “I totally agree that our audience is highly technical. They’ll appreciate us making a change that will save them time and allow them to do less work to accomplish this task.”

2. “It’s always been this way.”

Lesson: Clinging to too many legacy features can sink a product.

Counter-argument: “We definitely need to respect our legacy customers—their support is what helped us build this product/company. That being said, they came onboard with us because of our innovative solutions to the problems they were facing. We definitely want to make sure we’re continuing to move down that path to give them the best possible experience.”

“Clinging to too many legacy features can sink a product.”

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3. “I like it like this.”

Lesson: You are not your users.Twitter Logo

Counter-argument: “Unfortunately, some of our customers aren’t quite as tech-savvy as you are, and they’re really struggling with this.”

4. “It’s consistent with the rest of the product.”

Lesson: The product shouldn’t be consistently bad.

Counter-argument: “Customers love our product. This is one of the few areas that are causing them stress, and it’s distracting people from our other great product features.”


At the end of the day, we need to remember that it’s our job to educate stakeholders about the reasons things need to change, because it’s also our job to advocate for the users. As non-designers, stakeholders might not understand the impact that something as small as a button placement can make on a task flow.

Don’t take stakeholders’ ignorant comments as a personal attack—use them as an opportunity to drop some knowledge.

Header photo by Matthew Fern. Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

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