Understanding user needs

Understanding what users need from the product or service you are building is vital to its success.

To build a service that works, you need to understand users from their point of view - and not through the lens of assumptions or what the project owner wants. 

To do this, you will need to conduct research with a wide range of people to get a clear picture of what people are trying to do when they use your service.  

Who to include in your research 

  • Likely end users 
  • Public servants  
  • People delivering the service 
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) audiences 
  • Those who may need assistance to interact digitally or are unable to interact digitally 
  • People with varying needs such as disability, cultural diversity, literacy and remoteness/isolation. 

To create an effective service, you must research your users’ end-to-end journey. This should include non-digital ways they interact with your service such as phone, post, and face-to-face experiences. 

What your research team should find out

  • Who the people are who are most likely to use your service
  • The job or task they are trying to do when they use your service? 
  • How are they trying to do it currently. What pain points are they are experiencing? 
  • How does their life or work influence what they do and how? 
  • How do they use existing or similar services? 
  • The opportunities to remove or reduce pain points?  
  • How you can better meet the users' needs and improve the user experience  

Your research findings will then allow you to test and validate possible solutions with prototypes. 

Insights research should generate 

  • During Alpha you will define users and their needs, and an agreed minimum viable product (MVP) 
  • During Beta, research will influence changes to the service based on usability testing 
  • Data from research and testing will also help you understand which parts of the task users are finding difficult. This helps you revisit the design to reduce friction and increase success for users. 

Keep researching 

You need to plan and budget for continually testing the system. You also need to know how you will measure and monitor your service to ensure it continues to serve its users well. 

Share your findings 

Sharing your research is a great way to keep your team, stakeholders and others in your organisation up to date with the insights that are shaping the development of the service. 

Involve as many relevant people as possible in research to keep the project on track by: 

  • reducing the risk of personal preferences and untested assumptions 
  • limiting the influence of individual stakeholders. 


Related videos

YouTube Icon What types of research are we talking about? - Human-centred design workshop

Published on Jan 29, 2018

Duration: 2:23


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