SlideShare a Scribd company logo
“I empower
product people
to improve
product outcomes.”
Scott Sehlhorst
Understanding User Needs
• We cannot get inside a person’s head
• Those needs would change before our product launched
• We must understand groups of people, not just one individual
Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful. However, the
approximate nature of the model must always be borne in mind
- George Box
Author, Professor, Statistician
We Need to Create Models of What We Believe
“You never really understand a person until you consider things
from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and
walk around in it.”
- Harper Lee (said by Scout)
Author, To Kill a Mockingbird
Without a Model for Internal Context We
Misunderstand Stuff
• Jacob Burghardt, author, UX researcher, product manager
developed a taxonomy of user actions – we can use it as a model
• The actions we observe are operations
• Each of those operations exists as part of a task
• Task-level analysis is what I see most teams do.
• It’s the inside-out view
Without a Model for Internal Context We
Misunderstand Stuff
• Jake Burghardt, author, UX
researcher, product manager
developed a taxonomy of user
actions – we can use it as a model
• What we observe are operations
• Each of those operations exists as
part of a task
• Task-level analysis is what I see
most teams do.
• It’s the inside-out view
Task
Operation Operation Operation
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakeburghardt/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakeburghardt/
Without a Model for Internal Context We
Misunderstand Stuff
• Each task happens as part of
an activity
• Activities exist within the
context of ongoing activities
Ongoing
Activity
Activity Activity
Task Task
Operation Operation Operation
Activity
User Activities Are What Matter
• Consideration of user-needs
happens at the activity level
• Activities exist within the context
of ongoing activities
• Each task happens as part of an
activity
• Each operation exists as part of a
task
• What we observe are operations
Ongoing
Activity
Activity Activity
Task Task
Operation Operation Operation
Activity
User Activities Are What Matter
• Imagine you’re building software to
help delivery businesses operate with a
fleet of delivery trucks.
• The company needs to maintain a crew
of high-quality drivers.
• Each truck is equipped with GPS and
you can track the locations of the
trucks as they run their routes each
day.
• You can imagine using this data to help
• Think about what a user might be doing
Maintaining a
roster of high-
quality drivers
Recruiting good
drivers
Evaluating driver
behavior and
performance
Determining if
driver violated
traffic laws
Reviewing driver’s
driving history
Analyzing
telemetry data
from fleet vehicle
Maintaining
accurate driving
records
Updating driver-
record with new
results
Reviewing
performance with
drivers
User Activities Are What Matter
• Your users will judge your product by
thinking about their activities, not the
tasks or the features.
• This matters: “Am I good at evaluating
driver behavior and performance?”
• Not This: “Can the system detect
construction-zone speed limit
violations?”
Maintaining a
roster of high-
quality drivers
Recruiting good
drivers
Evaluating driver
behavior and
performance
Determining if
driver violated
traffic laws
Reviewing driver’s
driving history
Analyzing
telemetry data
from fleet vehicle
Maintaining
accurate driving
records
Updating driver-
record with new
results
Reviewing
performance with
drivers
Find the Right Rung on Your Ladder
• Imagine you want to build a
solution for interior designers.
• Your research reveals
something like this
• Mapping to this hierarchy is
subjective
Executing an interior
design project for a
client
Other activities
Designing a living
space
Finding the right
table for the space
Other operations
Searching a website
for mid-mod
occasional tables
Other tasks
Other operations
Other activities
Find the Right Rung on Your Ladder
Designing a living
space
Finding the right
table for the space
Searching a website
for mid-mod
occasional tables
Limiting search-
results with attribute
filtering
Executing an interior
design project for a
client
Designing a living
space
Finding the right
table for the space
Searching a website
for mid-mod
occasional tables
Running a
successful interior
design business
Executing an interior
design project for a
client
Designing a living
space
Finding the right
table for the space
Living a
comfortable,
rewarding, and
exciting life
Running a
successful interior
design business
Executing an interior
design project for a
client
Designing a living
space
Find the Right Rung on Your Ladder
Designing a living
space
Finding the right
table for the space
Searching a website
for mid-mod
occasional tables
Limiting search-
results with attribute
filtering
Executing an interior
design project for a
client
Designing a living
space
Finding the right
table for the space
Searching a website
for mid-mod
occasional tables
Running a
successful interior
design business
Executing an interior
design project for a
client
Designing a living
space
Finding the right
table for the space
Living a
comfortable,
rewarding, and
exciting life
Running a
successful interior
design business
Executing an interior
design project for a
client
Designing a living
space
Large Enough to be Meaningful
Small Enough to be Actionable
The Onion Diagram Gives Us a View of External
Context
• Without a model for external context, we miss some user needs
The Onion Diagram Gives Us a View of External
Context
The Onion Diagram Gives Us a View of External
Context
The Onion Diagram Gives Us a View of External
Context
Onion Example – This Lets Us See Through Walls
Onion Example – This Lets Us See Through Walls
Onion Example – This Lets Us See Through Walls
Great Models for Contextualizing User Needs
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/behavioral-impact-personas-human-centered-portfolio-strategy-evans/
https://medium.com/@davegray/updated-empathy-map-canvas-46df22df3c8a
https://www.amazon.com/Mapping-Experiences-Complete-Alignment-Blueprints/dp/1492076635/
Models of User Context Help Avoid Mistakes
Without a model for internal
context, we misinterpret user needs
Without a model for external
context, we miss some user needs
“Life is too short to build something nobody
wants.”
- Ash Maurya
Author, Running Lean
Satisfying User Needs – Ask“Did it Work?”
• Start with a NEED from your user research / context models
• If you addressed the NEED, what would be different?
• What changes?
• What OBSERVABLE CHANGE could you detect?
We believe, if we build this THING, it will address that NEED, which will
cause or enable that OBSERVABLE CHANGE
Shape Your Solution Hypothesis - Scheduler
Running a pest-
control business
Other activities
Scheduling Service
Calls
Matching available
techs to desired
appointment time
Other operations
Reviewing bookings
on technician’s
calendar
Other tasks
Other operations
Other activities
Shape Your Solution Hypothesis - Scheduler
Running a pest-
control business
Other activities
Scheduling Service
Calls
Matching available
techs to desired
appointment time
Other operations
Reviewing bookings
on technician’s
calendar
Other tasks
Other operations
Other activities
• How does the scheduler define
being good at scheduling
service calls?
✓Service Techs can maintain
the schedule (not showing up
late)
✓Service Techs don’t have
excess idle time when we have
unserved customers
Shape Your Solution Hypothesis - Scheduler
Running a pest-
control business
Other activities
Scheduling Service
Calls
Matching available
techs to desired
appointment time
Other operations
Reviewing bookings
on technician’s
calendar
Other tasks
Other operations
Other activities
• How does the scheduler define
being good at scheduling
service calls?
✓Service Techs can maintain
the schedule (not showing up
late)
✓Service Techs don’t have
excess idle time when we have
unserved customers
Shape Your Solution Hypothesis - Scheduler
We believe, if we build this a drive-time calculator, it will eliminate
schedules which are unrealistic due to commute times, which will cause
a reduction in customer complaints because fewer techs will be late
Thank You!
• Understand your users in context
• Internal context – model user intent, not tasks
• External context –the environment influences users
• Shift your solutioning focus
• Stop asking “Is it built?”
• Start asking “Did it work?”
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sehlhorst/
https://tynerblain.com/blog/
Understanding User Needs and Satisfying Them

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Understanding User Needs and Satisfying Them

  • 1.
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5. “I empower product people to improve product outcomes.” Scott Sehlhorst
  • 6. Understanding User Needs • We cannot get inside a person’s head • Those needs would change before our product launched • We must understand groups of people, not just one individual
  • 7. Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful. However, the approximate nature of the model must always be borne in mind - George Box Author, Professor, Statistician We Need to Create Models of What We Believe
  • 8. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” - Harper Lee (said by Scout) Author, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • 9. Without a Model for Internal Context We Misunderstand Stuff • Jacob Burghardt, author, UX researcher, product manager developed a taxonomy of user actions – we can use it as a model • The actions we observe are operations • Each of those operations exists as part of a task • Task-level analysis is what I see most teams do. • It’s the inside-out view
  • 10. Without a Model for Internal Context We Misunderstand Stuff • Jake Burghardt, author, UX researcher, product manager developed a taxonomy of user actions – we can use it as a model • What we observe are operations • Each of those operations exists as part of a task • Task-level analysis is what I see most teams do. • It’s the inside-out view Task Operation Operation Operation https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakeburghardt/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakeburghardt/
  • 11. Without a Model for Internal Context We Misunderstand Stuff • Each task happens as part of an activity • Activities exist within the context of ongoing activities Ongoing Activity Activity Activity Task Task Operation Operation Operation Activity
  • 12. User Activities Are What Matter • Consideration of user-needs happens at the activity level • Activities exist within the context of ongoing activities • Each task happens as part of an activity • Each operation exists as part of a task • What we observe are operations Ongoing Activity Activity Activity Task Task Operation Operation Operation Activity
  • 13. User Activities Are What Matter • Imagine you’re building software to help delivery businesses operate with a fleet of delivery trucks. • The company needs to maintain a crew of high-quality drivers. • Each truck is equipped with GPS and you can track the locations of the trucks as they run their routes each day. • You can imagine using this data to help • Think about what a user might be doing Maintaining a roster of high- quality drivers Recruiting good drivers Evaluating driver behavior and performance Determining if driver violated traffic laws Reviewing driver’s driving history Analyzing telemetry data from fleet vehicle Maintaining accurate driving records Updating driver- record with new results Reviewing performance with drivers
  • 14. User Activities Are What Matter • Your users will judge your product by thinking about their activities, not the tasks or the features. • This matters: “Am I good at evaluating driver behavior and performance?” • Not This: “Can the system detect construction-zone speed limit violations?” Maintaining a roster of high- quality drivers Recruiting good drivers Evaluating driver behavior and performance Determining if driver violated traffic laws Reviewing driver’s driving history Analyzing telemetry data from fleet vehicle Maintaining accurate driving records Updating driver- record with new results Reviewing performance with drivers
  • 15. Find the Right Rung on Your Ladder • Imagine you want to build a solution for interior designers. • Your research reveals something like this • Mapping to this hierarchy is subjective Executing an interior design project for a client Other activities Designing a living space Finding the right table for the space Other operations Searching a website for mid-mod occasional tables Other tasks Other operations Other activities
  • 16. Find the Right Rung on Your Ladder Designing a living space Finding the right table for the space Searching a website for mid-mod occasional tables Limiting search- results with attribute filtering Executing an interior design project for a client Designing a living space Finding the right table for the space Searching a website for mid-mod occasional tables Running a successful interior design business Executing an interior design project for a client Designing a living space Finding the right table for the space Living a comfortable, rewarding, and exciting life Running a successful interior design business Executing an interior design project for a client Designing a living space
  • 17. Find the Right Rung on Your Ladder Designing a living space Finding the right table for the space Searching a website for mid-mod occasional tables Limiting search- results with attribute filtering Executing an interior design project for a client Designing a living space Finding the right table for the space Searching a website for mid-mod occasional tables Running a successful interior design business Executing an interior design project for a client Designing a living space Finding the right table for the space Living a comfortable, rewarding, and exciting life Running a successful interior design business Executing an interior design project for a client Designing a living space Large Enough to be Meaningful Small Enough to be Actionable
  • 18. The Onion Diagram Gives Us a View of External Context • Without a model for external context, we miss some user needs
  • 19. The Onion Diagram Gives Us a View of External Context
  • 20. The Onion Diagram Gives Us a View of External Context
  • 21. The Onion Diagram Gives Us a View of External Context
  • 22. Onion Example – This Lets Us See Through Walls
  • 23. Onion Example – This Lets Us See Through Walls
  • 24. Onion Example – This Lets Us See Through Walls
  • 25. Great Models for Contextualizing User Needs https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/behavioral-impact-personas-human-centered-portfolio-strategy-evans/ https://medium.com/@davegray/updated-empathy-map-canvas-46df22df3c8a https://www.amazon.com/Mapping-Experiences-Complete-Alignment-Blueprints/dp/1492076635/
  • 26. Models of User Context Help Avoid Mistakes Without a model for internal context, we misinterpret user needs Without a model for external context, we miss some user needs
  • 27. “Life is too short to build something nobody wants.” - Ash Maurya Author, Running Lean
  • 28. Satisfying User Needs – Ask“Did it Work?” • Start with a NEED from your user research / context models • If you addressed the NEED, what would be different? • What changes? • What OBSERVABLE CHANGE could you detect? We believe, if we build this THING, it will address that NEED, which will cause or enable that OBSERVABLE CHANGE
  • 29. Shape Your Solution Hypothesis - Scheduler Running a pest- control business Other activities Scheduling Service Calls Matching available techs to desired appointment time Other operations Reviewing bookings on technician’s calendar Other tasks Other operations Other activities
  • 30. Shape Your Solution Hypothesis - Scheduler Running a pest- control business Other activities Scheduling Service Calls Matching available techs to desired appointment time Other operations Reviewing bookings on technician’s calendar Other tasks Other operations Other activities • How does the scheduler define being good at scheduling service calls? ✓Service Techs can maintain the schedule (not showing up late) ✓Service Techs don’t have excess idle time when we have unserved customers
  • 31. Shape Your Solution Hypothesis - Scheduler Running a pest- control business Other activities Scheduling Service Calls Matching available techs to desired appointment time Other operations Reviewing bookings on technician’s calendar Other tasks Other operations Other activities • How does the scheduler define being good at scheduling service calls? ✓Service Techs can maintain the schedule (not showing up late) ✓Service Techs don’t have excess idle time when we have unserved customers
  • 32. Shape Your Solution Hypothesis - Scheduler We believe, if we build this a drive-time calculator, it will eliminate schedules which are unrealistic due to commute times, which will cause a reduction in customer complaints because fewer techs will be late
  • 33. Thank You! • Understand your users in context • Internal context – model user intent, not tasks • External context –the environment influences users • Shift your solutioning focus • Stop asking “Is it built?” • Start asking “Did it work?” https://www.linkedin.com/in/sehlhorst/ https://tynerblain.com/blog/