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Glossary » surrogate users

surrogate users

people used as a substitute or representative for users, in order to provide information in design meetings, user testing, and so forth.

Typical surrogates would include managers, union reps, coworkers, friends, and designers (especially those who have interacted w/ users). Surrogates are used when actual users are hard to find, difficult to work with, or otherwise unavailable.

Surrogates can provide information in 3 ways:

  1. by reporting on what they know about the user, which can be limited by lack of knowledge or bias
  2. by role-playing how the user would behave, which runs the risk of stereotyping the user’s behavior
  3. by simply being themselves (and relying on their relative similarity to the user as an approximation of the actual user data), which avoids stereotyping but may fail to account for known differences between the surrogate and the user.