Central to the skill set of a good product manager or UX designer is the ability to anticipate a user’s actions. I recently wrote about how annoying it is when I type my phone number into a field on a form with dashes, or periods, and then get back an error message after I submit telling me I needed to enter it with no extra characters. A designer should anticipate that the user will do things like this, and do whatever is reasonably possible to prevent asking them to do more work. I recently found an excellent example of this kind of anticipation in design.
As I was wrapping up a post about why I love WordPress, I loaded the WordPress home page so I could grab their logo image and add it to my post. When I right-clicked on their logo, instead of seeing the typical browser menu options, a widget popped up offering me direct links to their official logo files. The fact that they anticipated users would want to download their logo file this way was not only cool, but also practical and smart. They keep more control over the images that are used elsewhere, and make sure they adhere to their standards. It told me that instead of only focusing on what a blogger might want to do within his or her blog dashboard, the product people at WordPress really put thought into the edge cases.
An edge case is a type of use case that doesn’t occur frequently, but could occur, and product people need to balance the gain in addressing them with the associated expense of doing so. Bugs often live in these spaces because certain user actions aren’t thought of ahead of time, aren’t tested or aren’t tested thoroughly. Sometimes it’s not worth the effort to address an edge case that you have reason to believe will almost never be encountered. Sometimes it’s sufficient to just block a user from doing something when you find a loophole or a way they might be able to generate an outcome that’s not intended as opposed to changing a design to fully account for it.
In the case of the logo download widget, though, the cost of implementation would be quite low. Even if you weren’t able to project the value, as a product manager, I would certainly have voted for this idea were it presented to me because implementation would be so simple.