User research is paramount to a well-balanced design process. It helps us create and implement interfaces that adhere to the needs and expectations of our users. But how do we adjust for different behavioral patterns amongst that group?
People tend to fall into one of two categories – thinkers and doers; cautious and impulsive; perceptive and decisive. Neither of the two is ‘better’ than the other, but they absolutely are distinct.
In a past life, I was a multi-day raft guide on the Colorado River. Almost all of the people on my trips fell into one of these two groups. Some of my passengers wanted a controlled experience. They wanted to know where we were stopping every day, which rapids we were hitting, what we were serving for each meal, and detailed information about all aspects of the canyon itself. Other people wanted a more adventurous trip. They tended to be the ones who wanted to try and row my boat, who ran up the side hikes in front of the guide without waiting for interp, who came prepared with a swath of information that they had looked up, and who wanted to define their experience for themselves.
These two types of visitors, both unique in their own right, also shared many things in common. Namely, they still required a guide to get them down the river. They still needed assistance, but they looked for it differently. The latter group would ask which way to go and then take off to explore independently, while the former stuck close to the guide for step-by-step instruction. But they were on the same journey.
I refer to these two groups as the tourists and the explorers, respectively, and they did not leave those distinctions behind when they left the trip.
Like my passengers, your users will generally separate into these two groups. One will look for detailed walkthroughs and guidelines while the other will jump right into the interface and start playing around. However, both require a clear and intuitive interface with useful navigation and action-oriented user flows. That’s the common denominator.