August 7, 2023

Digital product development: User needs and challenges

Jinali
7 minutes

To identify user needs in digital product development;

Organizations should entertain proactive listening 

While developing a product, a company prioritizes its own ideas, plans, and commitments before interacting with its customers or users. Prior to learning what a certain client’s needs are, they create an entire workflow of how the digital product will appear and what its advantages and challenges are. 

“The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”

With these strategies, organizations may miss out on valuable insights and fail to deliver a digital product that truly meets the expectations and requirements of their clients. It is important for organizations to be proactive listeners. Just listen to what they are saying, listen to their concerns, and know their requirements. Gather feedback and understand the specific needs and preferences before finalizing any product development plans. Only by being attentive listeners can organizations ensure that their products cater to the needs of their clients.

When interacting with clients about their digital product development, it’s important to follow a structured approach to ensure a clear understanding of their requirements and expectations. 

Here are the steps that should be involved in the process:

Steps for understanding user needs in digital product development

Step 1: Meet and Greet

Conduct Initial meetings with clients to introduce yourself and your team, develop amicable relationships, understand goals, and discuss their digital product needs.

Step 2: Formal Interview

Conduct thorough discussions and interviews with the client to gather detailed requirements. Ask questions about the target audience, intended functionalities, desired features, budget, timeline, and any specific design preferences they may have. Take notes and document all the information.

Step 3: Research and Analysis

Conduct research to gain a deeper understanding of the client’s industry, market trends, and competitors. Analyze their existing digital presence, if any, to identify potential opportunities or challenges.

Step 4: Prepare the scope of the project

Based on the gathered requirements, create a proposal that outlines the project scope, objectives, deliverables, timeline, and cost estimates. Ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of the project’s boundaries and what will be included or excluded.

Step 5: Encourage Open Communication during the project.

Share the progress with the client regularly and encourage their feedback throughout the development process. Incorporate their suggestions and make the necessary adjustments or modifications as required. Maintain open lines of communication to address any concerns promptly. 

There are multiple stages involved in digital product development, from scope to deliverables, that differ from organization to organization, however, the above are the core steps needed in understanding the client’s needs for a digital product.

What are the benefits of user research for digital products?

User research is important when it comes to providing them with the best digital products. Following are the benefits of conducting user research:

User-centric design

Understanding your target audience will help you make wise decisions and create digital products that actually live up to their expectations during the research phase of product development. Additionally, by performing user research, you can spot any usability problems or potential obstacles early on, giving you the opportunity to make the necessary modifications and ultimately reducing the risk of your product’s failure in the market. 

Reduced development costs

By conducting user research, you can identify and rectify design or feature issues early on before investing significant resources in development. This helps avoid costly redesigns or rework later in the product development process. User research allows you to make informed design decisions from the start, reducing the risk of costly development mistakes and saving time, money in the long run.

“Simplifying design can help you reduce up to 70% of the costs.”

Competitive Advantage 

While researching, you can gain valuable insights into what competitors are doing, which can encourage you to stand out from the competition by trying to create unique and innovative digital products and attract customers with something fresh and exciting. Also, you can identify any gaps or untapped opportunities in the market and capitalize on them to gain a competitive advantage.  

“The only real way to differentiate yourself from the competition is through service.” – Jonathan Tisch 

Providing exceptional customer service can also set your business apart and create loyal customers. By going above and beyond to meet the needs and expectations of your customers, you can build a strong reputation and establish a competitive edge in the market. 

Data driven decision-making 

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” – Sherlock Holmes 

User research involves gathering data and feedback directly from users, whether through surveys, interviews, or usability testing. This data can provide valuable insights into user needs, preferences, and pain points, allowing you to tailor your digital product to better meet their expectations. Additionally, by involving users in the decision-making process, you can increase their sense of ownership and satisfaction with the final product. 

Above are some of the most important and useful benefits of doing user research for successful digital product development. User research helps in understanding the needs and preferences of the target audience, leading to the creation of products that meet their requirements.  

Another function that can help in identifying user needs in digital product development is creating user personas 

What are User Personas?

User personas are fictional representations of the target users, that are based on research and data collected from real users. These personas help the development team better understand the users’ goals, behaviors, and preferences, allowing them to design digital products that meet their specific needs. 

Now the next question that comes in mind, Is there any specific process through which user personas can be built to identify user needs in digital product development? 

The answer to this question is that there is no predetermined set of rules that can be followed to develop a user persona blueprint. However, thorough surveys, interviews, and data assessments might help you get close to what your target audience desires. As we are all different, our ways of thinking and patterns are sometimes the same , especially when it comes to basic human needs.

For example:

I am prone to fitness, and no matter what happens, I try to maintain my proper schedule every day.

Still, I have pain points such as a lack of time, a lack of healthy supplements, and an occasional lack of motivation. I am sure 95% of people who are prone to fitness have similar pain points and face similar challenges that include finding time to exercise regularly and maintaining motivation. Additionally, they may struggle with balancing their fitness goals with other commitments and dealing with potential injuries or setbacks along the way. 

Once you have laid out potential setbacks and challenges that users might face during digital product development, the next step is to practically test the product to ensure that it functions as intended.  

This involves conducting thorough usability testing and gathering feedback from target users. By observing how users interact with the product and listening to their opinions, developers can identify any flaws or areas for improvement. Additionally, conducting UX testing with a small group of users can provide valuable insights before launching the product to a wider audience.

Conduct Usability testing

Usability testing is a method to identify how simple a digital product is to use by testing it with actual consumers. Users are asked to complete activities, generally while being observed by a researcher, in order to determine where they face difficulty or confusion.

What are the benefits of conducting usability testing in digital product development?

  • Instant and direct user feedback that helps understand needs and expectations by allowing users to share thoughts, preferences, suggestions.
  • Potential problems are taken care of before the product launch, that way any issues or glitches can be addressed and resolved in a timely manner. 
  • Enhanced Customer Retention rate: Happy customers are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend brands to others which further enhances the company’s reputation.
  • Early detection of usability problems during development can reduce the need for later, expensive redesign and redo. Usability testing enables incremental upgrades, ensuring that the product is polished before release.

Conclusion 

This comprehensive understanding of user preferences and pain points allows product developers to tailor their solutions to meet digital product needs effectively. By investing time and effort into this process, companies can ensure that their products not only meet customer expectations but also stand out in a competitive market.  

The best possible scenario is to stay updated and be adaptable to every situation , as it is impossible to predict every outcome. Being open to change and ready to adjust your plans can help you navigate unexpected circumstances effectively. Also, staying informed about the latest developments and having a flexible mindset will enable you to make quick decisions and find creative solutions when faced with unforeseen challenges. 

Contact us for all your challenges and fears of digital product development, and let us turn your vision into reality.

Digital product development refers to the process of creating and refining digital products, such as software applications, websites, or mobile apps. It involves various stages including ideation, design, coding, testing, and deployment. 

In UX, the basic user needs revolve around functionality, usability, and satisfaction. Users need a product or service that performs its intended tasks efficiently and effectively, with a seamless and intuitive user interface that is easy to navigate and understand. 

Some pain points and challenges of digital product development include the rapidly evolving technology landscape, which requires constant adaptation to emerging trends. A seamless user experience across different devices and platforms can be a challenge, as user expectations continue to rise.

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