Design for users (not customers)

The real issue with many of the official systems, processes, and tools we use every day isn’t that they were poorly designed or executed. It’s that they were designed and implemented based on what the people paying the bills (customers) think they should be, instead of what the people actually using them (users) need them to be.

Autistic or introverted? (Or both)?

My thoughts about introversion in my post Monday morning lunatics got me thinking about a possible relationship between introversion and Asperger’s Syndrome.  That, and a thread at Computerworld discussing Asperger’s in the field of Information Technology.

Not long after starting my first post-college job, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and discovered that I was introverted.  (INTP, to be exact.)  Discovered is probably too strong a word, though, since I already knew I was introverted, as described in this definition:

I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
  • I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.

To someone not familiar with all the intricacies of an Asperger’s diagnosis, this looks a lot like Asperger’s.  But consider this definition:

Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.

Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to “recharge.”

When introverts want to be alone, it is not, by itself, a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or that they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts. Being with people, even people they like and are comfortable with, can prevent them from their desire to be quietly introspective.

Being introspective, though, does not mean that an introvert never has conversations. However, those conversations are generally about ideas and concepts, not about what they consider the trivial matters of social small talk.

So my question is: Are introversion and Asperger’s related, or is the similarity of  the outward presentations of the two just a coincidence?  If they are related, is Asperger’s simply (I know nothing it simple) an extreme form of introversion?

Another way to look at it:  Are all people diagnosed with Asperger’s introverted, or are there some extroverted Aspies out there?