Among other gems, I found this bit of wisdom:
I’m good at marketing because I know I have no idea how to market things. That’s the secret—don’t be persuaded by your own assumptions and preconceived ideas of what should work, based on what influences or fails to influence you.
And it’s true, oh so true. You are not your audience, and you can’t judge what they want and like, or how they use a website, by your own preferences and behaviors. Or, at least, not solely on that. Of course Brendan is talking about marketing, but this same idea extends into all kinds of areas we work in. I think I can say, without pointing any fingers, that many a client has consulted only their own opinions when making decisions about how their site should look, what should be on the home page, and what people will do when they get there.
It can be difficult (especially since the client is always right) to suggest that someone’s anecdotal experience with something doesn’t extrapolate to a general rule; we all believe at heart that we represent normal, and that most people are normal—so what we think is the right way to do something is what most people think.
This is why focus groups, user input, and second opinions are really key.