Don't feed the Hippos

You know them. You hear them around your office, often locked away in meeting rooms but occasionally let loose to roam around behind your backs: eager to be heard and expert at unleashing their unknowing but paralytic tension.

HIPPOs - The Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. You know them.

You were hired to represent your user and for what you can bring to the product. You were hired because other people didn’t have the skill or the time to invest as much in the user as you do.

However, if your user research is carried out and falls on deaf ears, if design expertise is requested in meetings and then silenced, if feedback is blocked from ever even reaching its target: then you are probably aware of the dangers of HIPPOs. And you’re probably also aware of a culture of apathy and a vacuum of morale.

So when you’re told to put the logo in a ridiculous place, when the priority is for the site to be optimised for your boss’s device and not the users’: grab some data. Tell them, in the politest way possible, to leave you alone. To trust you. You’ve got this.

…this phrase came through on the radio: ‘And the hippos were boiled in their tanks!’ So we used that as the title. - William Burroughs