In psychology, projection, as conceptualised by Siegmund Freud, refers to the act by which we attribute our own feelings to others. When designing a system that is going to be used by others, projection is necessary to make decisions on the audience’s behalf. But at the same time it’s easy to project in ways that are unhelpful:

A developer might feel that the audience cares a lot about visual aesthetics, because the developer cares – after all it’s their work! A product manager might project their insecurity and imagine that the audience will immediately throw out the technology as soon as there is an issue.

Awareness of projection can help us spend our time and resources well!

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