A Guide to User Need Statements

User need statements, otherwise known as problem statements or point-of-view statements, are part of the defining state of design thinking. After the process of initial design, user need statements can help direct the project towards an objective goal to assist with future design and implementation.

User need statements are the problems that a user of the final design might have so that the design process can center around solving those problems before they happen. It narrows the scope of design down to focus on the definitive solutions for only the problems that are approached in the need statements, that way solutions are not being offered for problems that users do not, or will not, have.

Traditional User Need Statement Structure

There are three parts to the need statement. It has a User, a Need and a Goal. These can then be arranged into an actionable statement – a simple sentence or paragraph that broadcasts the essential needs of a project to the design team throughout the production.

The first part establishes an ideal or example User. The second part establishes that user’s Need which the design is meant to fulfill. The third part establishes what the need will accomplish as far as a Goal.

An example would be:

Thomas, an up-and-coming entrepreneur, needs to be able to compare and contrast the prices of goods on various services in order to find the best deals for his resale business.

The User is Thomas, who is defined further by his job title. His need is related to his title and career, and is something he requires to fulfill his goal of achieving higher profitability. Different users can have different needs and different goals. A similar entrepreneur may have the same need, but with a different goal, such as reducing the time spent at work for more free time. The change of the goal can also change the focus of the project away from comprehensive utility to speed and accessibility.

Benefits of Using User Statements

User statements can keep a project focused on an objective that can be built toward and keeps the project from growing too far in scope away from its initial intent. It gives focus on what the user needs most and what they will be focusing on finding as a solution. They bring the design team together to work on that focus without getting distracted. And, when using a properly crafted statement, it can be used as a benchmark to gauge the progress of the project. As each  

step of the statement gets solved through design, the design can then be refined to further solve the problem offered by the need statement until there are no more problems that can be raised.

By focusing on one user, one problem at a time, a design can fully implement all possible solutions for that problem and thus move on to the production phase. This prevents wasted effort on designing solutions for non-existent problems, keeps the scope and the cost in control, and delivers powerful solution to users in need.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: