How to Design a Product or Service by Looking at User Needs
What is a user need?
User needs are any feelings of dissatisfaction, conflict, negativity, or unfulfilled want in your target user population. Detecting customer needs are not always an easy task, especially because they don’t always know they are experiencing a need. On the other hand, these needs are often very obvious, such as when customers are dissatisfied with a current product or service. It doesn’t take a lot to know there is a huge need around cable companies in the United States, or to see that there is much less need for new social media networks.
Why do we care about user needs?
We care about user needs because they signify opportunities for new products or services. The most successful products and services are those that directly address an immediate need or gap in the market. You need this information in order to design adequate solutions. We can look at some examples.
Instagram was so successful despite a saturated market because it fulfilled the user need for a network focused 100% on visual stimuli.
One of the main reasons why people buy Apple laptops is because there is a need for laptops that last longer than the 2-3 year average.
The reason the number of community management agencies keeps growing and growing is because there is a constant need for social media. The reason this need has a constant need to be satisfied is because the platforms are always changing and companies don’t have time or staff to keep track of it all.
How do we detect user needs?
Generally, you need to go through an analysis and research process. Customer needs can be found by looking for conflict points or pains that users have when interacting with services or products. Look for bad experiences or bad feelings. Here you’ll find opportunities.
What you need to look for are needs that haven’t been expressed before. Or you can look for needs that have been solved, but to the continuing dissatisfaction of the user. If you find that many users have these same conflicts, then you’ve found a need that should give you consistent results.
Often, when users don’t express needs, we know that the user is usually the cause. We also see this when users continue to be satisfied despite apparent solutions. This happens when users don’t know they have a problem. The only way to detect these needs is through in-depth exercises and probing questions. Of course you will need an experienced UX researcher in order to correctly craft and design these questions. Make sure your research is well integrated into your business strategy. This will make sure they target the right kinds of needs.
How can this apply to marketing?
On the marketing level, there is nothing more relevant than understanding user consumption patterns and gaps. It is important to understand what the consumer buys, how much, where, when, and how. You need to know exactly how to turn this need into an idea, project, product, or service. And understanding user needs are how you achieve that.
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