Know your audience. Some people like flowers. Some people like socks.

By Lori Mackson on 10 Nov 2017

Rewind to July 2005. It was the week of my 1 year anniversary with my husband. I received a delivery of a vase full of flowers. I’m not much of a flower person, but I appreciated the thought. And, they did brighten up my office. I thanked my husband.

The next day, I got another flower delivery. Now I had 2 vases of flowers. A couple women in my office thought it was so sweet. “Looks like he is going to send you flowers every day of the week before your anniversary!”

My reaction, “Oh no! Are you serious?” These flowers probably cost at least $40 a piece. I added up the cost and thought of things I actually needed, like new socks. I called him and asked him if the suspicions were true. Was there a flower delivery scheduled every day this week?

I asked him to cancel them. He was surprised. Women love flowers, right? They love getting things at work? How are you NOT overwhelmed by this romantic gesture?

That night I admitted, I’m really not a flower person. They cost a lot of money and they just die. There are other things I need (like socks) that might be a better use of money. The thought was sweet, but what would be even sweeter is a gift that showed how much he actually knew me. I don’t fall into the “I’m a woman, so I like flowers” category.

The next year, I got a call from the secretary that I had a package. I approached the desk and a flower box was sitting on the counter. Crap. He didn’t learn. As I opened the box, I did see flowers, but not regular flowers. Inside was a collection of glass blown flowers with a note that said, “Flowers that will never die for a girl that I will never stop loving.”

Best. Husband. Ever.

Don’t assume you know people. Just because people have a certain title, born into a certain generation, or seem to fit into some other group doesn’t mean you can assume you understand what they need, the way they think, or what challenges need to be solved. Do your research. Ask a question you think you know the answer to. You might be surprised.

It’s ok to guess, as long as you are learning. You can’t know everything about a person or a set of users. There are times you make assumptions and you design something based on the information you have. In these situations, make sure you have a plan in place to get feedback. Stay open minded. Be ready and excited to change your design.  

If you develop software for a group of people, it is so important to know your audience. At work, collaboration will be more effective when you understand and know your colleagues better. And in relationships, whether family, friends, or a significant other - those relationships will be strengthened when you know them and let them get to know you.

My husband and I have been married for 13 years now. I’ve received so many thoughtful gifts, including a 20 ounce wholesale bag of queso dip from my favorite restaurant, delicious caramel apples, and my favorite—A bouquet of new socks.

About Mutually Human

Mutually Human is a custom software design and development consultancy specializing in mobile and web-based products and services. We help our clients design, develop and bring to market innovative products and services based on insightful research and strategy aligned with business objectives. We’ve helped Fortune 500 companies, state governments, and startups.