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The Mom Test?

hillaryI'm feeling twitchy about a quote I heard this week from Flipboard founder Mike McCue.  McCue, according to a recent piece in The Atlantic, tells his employees to:

"think constantly about their mothers' reactions -- real or imagined -- to the things they're building. Think, he said, about how the average person -- the person who could benefit from technology, but who is not necessarily adept with technology -- might react to their product.'"

He goes on to say that:

"Basically, your user needs to get what your product is about. She needs to want to use it. And she needs to be able to use it. Bells and whistles aren't much good to you when the average person won't be able to make sense of them or benefit from them. "

I agree with McCue's point that product design should focus on the point of view and priorities of the intended user.  What's got me riled is that he chooses "Mom" as the icon of the technology-challenged.  I'm a mom, and a 35-year veteran of the high tech industry.  Moms are all over the very social technology that McCue is building a company around.  Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram anyone?  If you don't believe me, check out this from Intel researcher Genevieve Bell:

"So it turns out if you want to find out what the future looks like, you should be asking women. And just before you think that means you should be asking 18-year-old women, it actually turns out the majority of technology users are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. So if you wanted to know what the future looks like, those turn out to be the heaviest users of the most successful and most popular technologies on the planet as we speak."

So yea, Mike McCue.  You should be listening to those middle-aged moms.  Perhaps, though, you'll learn more if you show a little more respect.



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