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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 negotiation 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, moreā€¦
  • 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.

Read more of my thoughts

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Should you opt-out of the Conduct of Employment Agencies Regulations?
What on Earth is IR35?
Going freelance: Part 1: Starting up

See all of my thoughts