Understand Your Customer in Context of the Market

Researching the customer and user needs

The first step in understanding the needs of customers and users is to understand their marketplace. Put the customers and users needs in context of the market, competition, and other customers and users. How does this solution serve its market? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competitions’ solution compared to your solution? How are the various customers’ workflows similar and differ? How are the various users’ tasks similar and different?

Then determine the vision of the solution. Understanding the short and long-term vision of the solution answers the following questions: Is this first-to-market? Is it a major release for a mature product? Is this solution a foot in the market that will be replaced by the next version or become a component of another application? Your answers will determine the direction of the design.

Once you understand your customer and user in context of the market, competition, other customers and users, and understand the solution’s vision, you can formulate a high-level plan of how much research, design, and evaluation you’ll need in order to design a solution that is easy to use.

Document your understanding and share it with subject matter experts to ensure that you are heading in the right direction.

This blog series is based on the article Easy to Use for Whom: Defining the Customer and User Experience for Enterprise Software