Let’s set the scene. You’ve spent the past few weeks chatting with users, doing market research and identifying potential needs. You’ve got sticky notes from floor to ceiling and documents upon documents of notes detailing pain points, problems and goals.
But now the time has come to sift through everything you’ve learned and start using this data to build out your product. The only problem is, how do you translate this information into actionable feature and product ideas that effectively address user needs?
Here are three easy steps...
1. Map and sort user needs by priority
Before you start brainstorming features and products, it’s a good idea to sift through, categorize and prioritize the user needs you’ve identified.
That way, you can focus on brainstorming features that address the most high-priority needs and are likely to increase customer satisfaction and positively impact your business the most. (If you’re yet to identify user needs, we’ve written a helpful article here that informs you how to go about it.)
Start by mapping out all user needs, problems and goals you’ve identified somewhere where you can see it all in one place. This could be as simple as mapping it out on a whiteboard or using software like Miro.
You can then begin ranking user needs in order of priority. To start with, highlight a specific need and consider:
- How many users said they struggled with this need during interviews/market research?
- How strongly did users speak about this need during interviews/market research?
- How much value or ROI will addressing this need bring to your business?
- Is addressing this need essential for the success of your product or service?
- Are there any feasibility issues or constraints with addressing this need?
Once you’ve answered these questions, select a second need and go through the same process and consider if that need is more or less important than the first one you evaluated. Continue this until you’ve sorted through and ranked each user need by priority.
To make things easier, you could also assign a value to each need—that way, you can rank needs based on the assigned values, rather than having to compare each need with the other.
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2. Brainstorm features with your team
Once you’ve prioritized your user needs, you can start coming up with ideas for features and products that are likely to address those needs. You can do this by brainstorming, mind mapping, card sorting or using another technique—whatever works best for your particular team.
To start, gather a team of product managers, designers, developers and other stakeholders and get them together in one room (or on a video call). It’s important to encourage everyone to contribute—no matter how small—so you have a wide and diverse range of ideas and suggestions from each unique perspective.
Next, list out all user needs in order of priority and talk through them one by one with your team, explaining the background and research behind each need and asking them to come up with a range of ways to address them.
If you have a particularly long list of user needs, you could even just focus on the highest priority, as opposed to the entire list.
You might also find that the same feature can address multiple needs. This can make things a lot more convenient for you in the long run.
3. Polish your list of features
After completing the above two steps, you’ll have a long list of product and feature ideas that are mapped to your top-priority user needs and designed to help them solve their key problems.
And what’s great is, they’ll already be sorted in order of priority, as they’ll be based on your prioritized list of user needs. So, you can simply start with the feature at the top of your list and go from there.
The only problem is, you might have ended up with multiple feature ideas for each user need. So, how do you determine which features are most likely to address each need in the most effective way, as well as the features you should focus on the most during product development?
While you should factor in business value and ROI, potential impact on customer satisfaction, time and effort required, cost and feasibility, market research and customer feedback, one of the most effective ways to do this is using a prioritization matrix.
A prioritization matrix helps you evaluate and rank features based on two important criteria—for example, importance versus impact or time versus value. And there are many techniques you can use to create your matrix—one of the most common being the Kano model, for example.