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Extremes and Mainstreams

Designing a solution that will work for everyone means talking to both extreme users and those squarely in the middle of your target audience.


Suggested Time

30-60 Minutes

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed

Pens, paper


Design team

Process Phase

When recruiting people to interview, target both the big broad mainstream and those on either extreme of the spectrum. An idea that suits an extreme user will nearly certainly work for the majority of others. And without understanding what people on the far reaches of your solution need, you’ll never arrive at solutions that can work for everyone. More importantly, talking to Extreme users can spark your creativity by exposing you to use cases, hacks, and design opportunities that you’d never have imagined.


  1. Think about all the different people who might use your solution. Extreme users can fall on a number of spectrums and you’ll want variety. Maybe you’ll want to talk to someone who lives alone and someone who lives with a large extended family. Maybe you’ll want to talk to both the elderly and children. Each will offer a take on your idea that can spur new thinking. 
  2. When you talk to an extreme, ask them how they would use your solution. Ask them if they use something similar now and how it does or does not suit their needs.
  3. Select appropriate community contacts to help arrange meetings and individual Interviews. Make sure you’re talking to men and women. You might even stumble across an extreme user in another context and want to talk to them there. 
  4. Be sensitive to certain extremes when you Interview them. They may often be left out of discussions like these so make them feel welcome and let them know that their voices are critical to your research.