Two sides to the story: the business and the customer

For a business to be successful, it needs to cater to both the needs of it’s customers and to listen to its own needs to keep the business afloat. Balancing the two is hard but crucial to success.

Two sides: The Customer and the business

As UX Designers, we are often tasked with designing what you could describe as the digital equivalent of the relationship between a customer and a shop assistant in a store. There are two parties involved: the business and the customer. Whether we are creating a digital or physical experience, these parties remain the same so we must work with both of their needs.

Projects start with a brief that is usually based on one of the two parties' needs:

It is crucial that the project team strives to find the other parties' needs, just as would happen in a store or if you imagine a conversation between a salesperson and a customer - they would find a way to meet in the middle.


How to uncover business needs
  • Asking questions that dig deeper into their motivations and problems - e.g. "Why do you want to redesign the website? What problems are you trying to solve by doing that? Why do you wish to increase sales by 10%? Why over the next 2 years?"
  • Run stakeholder workshops or speak to clients individually, this will help to uncover if there are multiple facets to the business needs - perhaps your clients themselves have differing needs, Head of Digital will undoubtedly have different needs to their Legal team.
  • Look at their competitors and relevant industry trends to get an understanding of the market that the business is operating within
How to uncover customer needs
  • This is where user research comes in. There are many ways of conducting research, here are a few: guerrilla research (going into stores or on the street to interview passers by), running one-to-one interviews, focus groups, workshops, surveys, reading publicly available research reports such as white papers, talking with callcentre staff or shop assistants, and more, more, more…
  • It is important to point out that it is very easy to accidentally imagine yourself as a customer and conclude that you understand their needs based on your own. It is possible that this will uncover a few user needs but it is highly unlikely that your experience represents a business's full customer base. If it helps, identify your personal experience, write it down, and then put it to one side; this will help you to avoid this mistake.
  • Equally, it is easy for a business to believe that they understand their customers' needs. If your clients believes they understand everything about their customer base - try to uncover how they have found this out, have they conducted extensive, valid research or have they made unfounded assumptions.

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Two sides to the story: the business and the customer

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