Let's talk
User Experience | 17th February 2019

Take the time to understand user requirements

Let’s say you’re building a new house for a family. It’s fine, you know what a house looks like, right? You have one and for the past x amount of years you grew up in one. In fact, you even subscribe to some home magazines and you’ve seen enough Grand Designs to be a bit of a connoisseur on self builds - you’ve got this!

Your clients are the Smiths; a family of four comprising of Mr Smith, Mrs Smith, their daughter and Mr Smith's elderly mother, Grandma Smith. After spending a bit of time with the Smiths and asking them what they wanted, you begin to design the house of your customers' dreams, this is going to be great and you can’t wait to show it to them. You have your budget in place, you’ve contracted an architect and the plans are coming together.

The four bedroom house for the Smith family is looking fantastic; three double bedrooms, a single room that can be used as an office since Mr Smith works from home, two en-suites, one family bathroom, four reception rooms and a downstairs toilet. The garden is big enough to entertain, the drive is big enough for four cars and you’ve added a double garage. You’ve nailed it! You can hear Kevin McCloud singing your praises for such a wonderful build.

Today is the day, you’re going to unveil the build that you’ve ploughed months worth of effort into, you’ve delivered on budget (what an achievement) and the labour of love that you’ve become emotionally attached to is ready to be used and fawned over.

The Smith family arrive, they pull up to the house and yes, you see smiles. They tell you how wonderful the house looks and they can’t believe you’ve managed to deliver such a stunning looking house within their budget.

They begin to ask you some questions, nothing too serious. The first question is around accessibility; can a wheel chair user gain entry into the home? "It looks a bit small and Grandma Smith needs to be able to manoeuvre in and out easily". This causes a bit of tension, but alas you arrived on budget and you have a good rapport with the builders, you’re sure they can widen the front door - problem solved.

You can’t wait to show the Smith family the upstairs, you show them three double bedrooms and the fourth bedroom that is an office space. Mistake number two, Grandma Smith can't walk up the stairs, and would need her bedroom to be on the ground floor.

This is where the house you’ve built starts to unravel, with more needs rather than wants coming to the surface. In order to meet the Smiths' needs the budget is going to have to go out the window, you’re reluctant to make needed changes due to your emotional attachment and the Smith family are now left with no option but to make-do with the new home, not being able to afford the increase in budget to rectify the unintentional mistakes made during the build.

This leaves you wondering, why didn’t I spend more time discovering what the Smith family needed?

Uncovering users’ needs requires more time and consideration than just at the ideation stage. At the validation stage we uncover some great actionable insights, when our hypothesis are tested and users get to test a MVP and provide us with information on how products are really used. No matter how much we think we know our user(s), it is important to test our work often, so we don’t go too far down the wrong path.

You thought you knew the Smith family and you considered yourself a domain expert with regards to self builds and you managed to deliver this great home on budget. The intentions were there, but unfortunately the home you built just doesn’t meet requirements.

You wouldn’t build a home without understanding the needs of its new owners, and we won’t build products that way either. We take the time to understand our products' users to ensure we're building products that meet their needs.

Hero image by David Travis Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash

Written by
Jeremy King
Jeremy is a Director at New Socks Media.

Scouting for talent.

Interested in joining our growing team?
We'd love to see you among our team members.

Send your CV to

Software developer

We’re looking for a passionate developer to work alongside an equally passionate, and friendly team. You'll keep up with latest trends and implement technology best suited to the job.

Read job spec