User Needs: Defining What Your Customer Is Looking For

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Rafael Timbó
By
Rafael Timbó
|
Chief Technology Officer
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Table of Contents

Learn how to define and identify your customer's needs and why they're important to the overall user experience.
Published on
September 18, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

The end users of your product or service are a priority — it’s essential to keep them satisfied and helps you continually follow best practices when building your next project. But how do you figure out your users’ needs? And once you know those needs, how do you fulfill them? 

This article will explore real user needs, how to identify and define them, and why they're important to the total user experience, or UX. Let's dive in. 

What Are Real User Needs?

Real user needs are identifiable needs from users that aren’t based on assumptions. User needs are important — but real user needs are essential. They express what a user wants from a product or service. It can be anything from a goal, value, aspiration, or desire. 

User needs help to identify your target audience and why they might choose your product. Real user needs can help cater to audiences, build products and services that help fulfill their needs, and keep customers satisfied. Recognizing real user needs can also help you adhere to your goals and intentions and save time and money by avoiding targeting people uninterested in your offering. 

What Are User Needs Statements?

User needs statements — also known as point-of-view statements or problem statements — are vital to the design-thinking process or any product development or development plan for your product, where you’ll define problems that need solving. Defining user needs will help mitigate risk and tackle issues early on before spending time, energy, and resources on creating possible solutions. Knowing your users' needs will inform the prototyping, testing, and implementation stages. 

Developing a user needs statement can happen manually through your research methods, user needs assessment tools, or a user needs analysis template. 

A user needs statement summarizes key facts about the user: who they are, what their needs are, and how important those needs are. With a detailed user needs statement, you can create solutions for an actionable problem statement before moving on to the idea phase. This can focus your view of the product so you can create a metric for success. When developing the user needs statement, consider the user, the need, and the goal. 

User

First, define your specific user and target audience. Do some research about your ideal user. With your target audience in mind, create a detailed persona for your end user. A good method in figuring out your user is to create a tagline that can help remind you and others who your user is. Let's create a persona for a user named Laura. Laura is an influencer who adores adventure.  

Need

Needs are real. Avoid making up a need or solution. Research your target audience to define and validate their needs. Back to Laura. Laura is a woman who is an influencer that adores adventure. She might need to get validation from her peers and fulfill her adventurous spirit by going on day trips around the city.

Develop needs specific to the target audience through design explorations and design systems. Also, consider long-term user benefits. Avoid solutions, features, specific technology, and interface mechanisms at this stage. These will all come during the development phase. Understand your user’s needs so that you can eventually market your product in a way that appeals to them. 

Goal

Define goals to meet the needs of your target audience. Goals should have empathetic insights. When developing a persona, evaluate your users’ hopes, fears, and motivations, and then spend time developing goals that meet those factors. Goals for Laura, the adventure-loving influencer, could look something like this: 

  • Discover unique outdoor activities 
  • Connect and collaborate with other adventure-loving influencers 
  • Find and review the latest equipment for adventure activities 

Defining What Potential Users Are Looking For

Understanding and defining your user needs can take time and effort. But, there are specific steps you can take to successfully determine what a user may be looking for. 

Understand the Scope

Setting and understanding the scope is the first step in defining potential user needs. Don’t be too strict with it, as there will likely be multiple needs statements that fall under various scopes. Instead, you can create an umbrella statement and smaller goals that fit under that umbrella. When creating an umbrella statement, consider the long-term vision and define the overall user problem or product’s conception.

The umbrella statement for Laura may look like this: Laura would like to connect and collaborate with other influencers. Smaller goals that could fit into this umbrella scope may include building a social media presence and attending local events. 

Understand Your User Story

User stories describe a software’s features from the user’s perspective. They’re usually brief, straightforward, and informal. The user can be anyone from external customers to stakeholders and team members. They play a vital role in understanding and defining user needs. 

Understanding user stories can help you express the value of a product and understand the functionality a user wants and why. User stories help product managers, development teams, and other software professionals communicate effectively about the software’s features. 

Do Your Market Research

Market research helps you better understand different users and their needs. It can include interviews, quantitative surveys, diary studies, and field studies. This information enables you to understand what an audience is doing and thinking. It can also inform user motivations and pain points. 

Gathering information about your potential market and target audience can help your team create journey maps and service blueprints to navigate your target audience more effectively. 

Generate Candidates

With user research in hand, it's time to generate candidates, either manually or using artificial intelligence. Generate at least three candidates for your needs statement. Consider Laura again. She’s a user with a tagline but also represents a need and goal. But users aren’t always as straightforward as creating a need and a goal. 

Consider each variable — the user, need, and goal. Create a user needs matrix by mixing and matching these variables until you develop a pairing that suits your user’s needs. Some questions to ask yourself as you generate your candidates include: 

  • What is the user’s concern?
  • Why does this matter to the user?
  • What are the potential benefits for the user?
  • What are your product or service's edge and narrow bands or the protocol or network?

Alter Your Statement as Needed

Developing a statement isn’t enough. Critique and feedback are also essential. Ask colleagues for insight into your user statement or use user feedback tools. It’s also important to critique your user statement. Look at your statement, pick out flaws, then alter the statement as needed. Mix and match, change the language, and consider using different inputs. 

Ask the following questions: 

  • Are you considering your users’ needs as an action or an object? 
  • Does this statement contribute to your ideation and creativity? 
  • Does this statement encompass how to address your user’s needs? 
  • Does this statement show how it would impact the user’s life? 

Measure Success and Failure

The last step in defining potential users’ needs is to develop a way to measure success and failure. Understand how to satisfy your customer’s needs, and, even more important, understand the factors contributing to failure. 

Consider the following: 

  • Chances of product recommendation
  • Continued use of the product
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Recurring subscriptions
  • Potential of repeated purchases

The Benefits of Identifying User Needs

Understanding user needs can make or break your business. Customers are the backbone of any business, so customer satisfaction is a priority. 

Other benefits of truly knowing your users’ needs include the following: 

  • Decreased development price: By identifying user needs early, you can develop an actionable problem statement that meets the needs of a breakthrough user. This can reduce the risk of making mistakes and needing to recreate user needs, thus reducing the development cost of new UI.
  • Enhanced product development: Users’ needs will give meaningful feedback and insight into your product development phase and what your user expects. You can use this feedback to make changes before it’s deployed to the public.
  • Improved decision making: Understanding what your user wants from your product will help your team make informed decisions about which specific features to include, how to design the user interface, and how you should market your product.

Hire Remote Development Teams to Help Pinpoint Customer Needs

Having the right team can help you pinpoint your customer’s needs; finding the best developers, however, can be challenging. Limiting yourself to local talent makes the search even more difficult. Revelo can help you source and hire the developers you need.  

Working with Revelo will give you access to a talent marketplace with the highly-qualified, pre-vetted remote talent in Latin America. We handle onboarding, payroll, benefits, and more so that you can focus on developing the best products for your user needs.  

Find out more about how Revelo works, and let us help you succeed. 

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