This past weekend, I spent a fair amount of time in the car while my wife and I drove to and from Minnesota to visit my folks for Christmas. During the 6-hour drive through Packer-country, while downing 5-Hour Energy and passing the Cheese Chalet, the "World's Largest Culvers" and the Wisconsin Dells, we listened to Made to Stick. Written by Chip and Dan Heath, Made to Stick examines why some ideas thrive while others die (read an excerpt).
I was particularly interested in their concept of "The Curse of Knowledge". According to Chip and Dan, The Curse of Knowledge is "a natural psychological tendency that consistently confounds our ability to create ideas". In other words, "once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has 'cursed' us".
I find that this concept of The Curse of Knowledge holds particularly true when running a website. We invest so much time planning, designing, tweaking and navigating our own websites, that it becomes nearly impossible to generate new ideas, or see the forest from the trees. This universal problem was one of the main reasons I decided to launch Concept Feedback - to provide a way to get an independent, objective website evaluation from an industry expert.
It can be easy to get complacent, assuming you've "done your best" and visitors will find what they need. Unfortunately, that usually isn't the case. Utilizing online tools to gather website feedback from users (usertesting.com), customers (kampyle.com/uservoice.com) and industry experts (conceptfeedback.com) is essential to avoiding The Curse of Knowledge.
Although I haven't finished the entire book at this point, Made to Stick offers some great insights, and I would recommend it to anyone. If you have your own experiences with The Curse of Knowledge, let us know in the comments!