Stop blaming your users

I am a UX designer. When I walk up to a door that has a pull affordance (i.e. looks like it should be pulled), I pull it. If  the door doesn't open, because it's actually a push door, I curse under my breath to the bad design of the door. I blame the designer of the door who gave it the wrong design - they made it look pullable when it was really pushable. Normal people don't do this. They blame themselves: "Ugh, stupid me. Can't even open a door". This is beautiful summed up by Jennifer Aldrich.

Via Jennifer Aldrich, 

Via Jennifer Aldrich, 

User blaming is still rife in the digital world. When you blame your users you make them feel small, stupid, not good enough. When you blame your users, and they happen to be a UX designer or someone who knows what's going on in tech, you make them angry, frustrated and likely to leave your product (and possibly write a blog post about it, like this one...). 

Let me walk you through the interaction I had with Hello Fresh recently. 

1. When trying to log in, I kept getting told that my email / password was incorrect. It wasn't, I have a password manager so it was 100% certainly my password. 

2. This email didn't actually come through at all, not even in my junk folder, but that's a story for another time. Once Hello Fresh customer service staff intervened, I did get an email with this lovely subject. 

No. Actually, I DIDN'T forget my password, it was your website fault. But if I had of forgotten my password this is patronising. I understand that you're going for a playful tone, but you've completely failed here. You are blaming the user for forgetting one of possibly hundreds of passwords. 

3. The body of the email isn't much better.

"Somebody told us that you've gone and lost your HelloFresh password". Somebody? Me. It was me. This is creepy. If I didn't request this, I wouldn't be getting an email. And I haven't "gone and lost my password" (in this case, again, I didn't forget it), but it's slipped my mind. I haven't gone and lost it on purpose. More user blaming.  

Bad products make users feel stupid. Normal users blame themselves, not the baad design - but I am calling out this bad, user blaming, design. Test your copy. Test it with a frustrated user who is trying to log in but has forgotten their password  in their busy life where your service means little to them in the scheme of things. I'm running around with a million things to think about, and I just want to access your site to order dinner, but I can't and your "cute" copy is patronising and blaming me.  Test that you aren't blaming users, especially so that it stands up when something does go wrong and it's actually your code to blame.