Data Dehumanises

It’s a staple for me on the projects I’ve been working on for the last 2 years. Data, lots of data.

The internet has enabled so many new ways of doing this. Buy this, sell that, book this, auction that, search for this, share that.

All the stuff we do online now is tracked and sits in a database table somewhere waiting to be analysed.

I’ve been that person, show me conversion rate, funnel dropout, search traffic, related tweets & likes, referral sites, click pattern data, user journeys. All that data has one thing in common. It’s anonymous, faceless, soulless numbers.

For many big web companies data drives decision making.

Jack Dempsey recently railed against the term user. Saying it took away the human aspect. There are worse terms in our industry for people. Traffic perhaps being the pinnacle.

In our focus on improving the work we do we use big data to make big decisions. We often fail to understand the human behind we what we do. Using data to design experiences is never going to make those experiences human. The focus on designing for people is slowly being lost in our industry in favour of a soulless focus on numbers.

It’s time to refocus. Tell stories about our customers problems, not focus on a line in a spreadsheet. After all we are humans too and we related far more to a person than we will ever do to a number.

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