Cupertino, we have a problem

Apple’s health app calls upcoming menstruation a „highlight„. Dare I say it: this is not a highlight for most women.
So while I don’t think things like this are happening on an intentional basis it is a very good example of what we call self-referential design. Self-referential design means that we tend to design for ourselves rather than for our actual audience. This behavior is a result of the so called false consensus effect /bias – the tendency to overestimate the agreement that exists between our own attitudes, worldviews and opinions and those of other people.

Different explanations have been developed why this effect appears, for example cognitive availability/availability heuristic plays a role: Similarities between oneself and other people are easier to retrieve from memory than dissimilarities. Also, the search for consistency might play a huge role as people specifically search for people who agree with them while avoiding people who have different viewpoints.

It’s a fact that tech teams are often male-dominated. And I think this is something we all / tech teams can do better. We have to bring more diversity to tech teams. More diversity leading to more perspectives and thus less self-referential design… still a long way to go.

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