Systems designed around the average person are doomed to fail

“The tendency to think in terms of the ‘average man’ is a pitfall into which many persons blunder.” […] any system designed around the average person is doomed to fail.
— From The End Of Average by Todd Rose

That isn’t to say that the average should be excluded, but rather that a system should meet all if its users where they are rather than expecting them to fit into the ill fitting mould of an average. Better tools is a worthy ideal, less diverse users is not.

I see in this a useful guiding principle for designing systems and building software. I would translate it as:

Systems should suit the individual rather than the average.

Relates to my thinking on the constricting effect of too rigid design where I wrote that “Many are still limited by the interfaces and paradigms of computing we have so far conceived, and as computing reaches further into our lives, and further out across the world, many more will suffer these limits. The digital revolution has revealed its profound potential as a force multiplier for human thought, allowing us to connect people and ideas with an efficiency and scale that fills me with wonder, but there is much more that can be achieved if we can recapture the notion that computers should be suited to our needs – rather than persisting with the obstructive narrative that people ought to adapt themselves to suit computers – and much that will be lost if we do not.”