Simplifying Needs and Requirements Description

7 Sep 2010 - 7:00am
5 years ago
2 replies
1611 reads
Jan Dittrich

I am thinking about a way which is easy-top-apply for  turning (user) research into Requirements, Needs and Goals – so the prerequisites for the actual design process.

This is because I am planning a course on IxD for my fellow Media Design Students. The focus is on practial issues because I know that a unclear or too complicated suggested work process will not be applied in later projects.
The literature offers quite a lot of ressources for that step but the suggested solutions that seem to be  very extensive. I deal with creative-thinking people as well, so it is most likely that a "helpful framework" is going to be accepted contrary to something that feels rigid and constraining. 

Do you have suggestions or ressources for an easy-to-apply-workflow for establishing requirements and goals?

What is in your eyes described in the literature but could be left out and what is most important for the applied process?




8 Sep 2010 - 7:07am
Paul Bryan

There are many types of research, and the process for transforming the results into requirements typically takes time, training, and experience.  The quickest way to produce valid design requirements through research is to start the research process with design questions that are as specific as possible, and then select the research method(s) best suited to providing conclusive answers to those questions. I don't think leaving out standard steps to save time is a good idea, because you may render your findings invalid in the process, which is worse than no research because it causes you to move forward confidently in the wrong direction. 

My UPA prez Ethnography 101 ( discusses an approach to take ethnographic research results to design requirements. However, the data collection and analysis process it describes are probably too time consuming for your application. You may want to focus instead on surveys or participatory design methods, since they tend to result in more prescriptive findings.

Paul Bryan



8 Sep 2010 - 1:19pm

That's a nice presentation on translating real-world observation to actionable goals Paul. Also a very clear presentation on the practice of Ethnography.

We're using the following text in the MA of IXD I'm in.
Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services The book takes a very thorough look at Cooper's approach to gathering needs, then generating and synthesizing solutions.

Personally I like to think of needs as a problem-statement or as a question. For example, I read somewhere that Apple's original project brief was summarized as 'How do you design an interface for a 6-year-old artist?'. This simple approach communicates the needs of the interface and provokes a creative response or solution.

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