User Needs Discovery

Our field research methods put you into the shoes of your target audience. Whereas traditional customer research methods, such as focus groups and surveys, distance the development team from the end user, field research data will reveal the user problems that you need to solve, and it will bring clarity and definition to that 'fuzzy front end' of the development cycle that most companies struggle with.


What is User Needs Discovery?

User needs discovery (aka field research, site visits, shadowing or contextual inquiry) applies techniques from psychology, anthropology and ethnography to understanding the people you are designing for. We visit your target customers in their homes, offices and places of work and we watch how they get things done, what works well and what they struggle with – and we take you with us so you get to experience the actual environments in which your ideas and designs will function.

Development teams are often over-eager to leap to ‘solutions’. But not properly understanding the problems that need solving is one reason most new products fail. Once you see how field research can connect you directly with your target audience we guarantee you'll never run another focus group! 

Our approach to User Needs Discovery

Using a method called Contextual Inquiry, we combine the adventure of an explorer with the investigative eye of a detective. The data we collect will reveal the “messy reality” surrounding people’s real-life behaviors, and you will get to see what people really do, not just what they say they do. We keep your design team closely involved as we run workshops to analyze and model the data, reveal the product opportunities, and use real evidence to inform your ideation and creativity. 

We have extensive experience of conducting field research. In the context of their everyday activities we have studied smartphone users, investment brokers, college students, teenagers, doctors, nurses, policemen, janitors, telecoms engineers, machine operators, tech support experts, video gamers, office workers, homemakers – and even babies and infants! 

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Time for a change

If you are trying to develop new products based on the opinions of internal stakeholders, or on 'the way we have always done things' then stop! It's not going to work. You need real user data.

Our approach will give you a clear picture of your users' goals and will show you the gaps and pressure points that result from unmet user needs - these are your design opportunities!

Market research and focus group research cannot get you there. You need to actually observe people doing their jobs! We can help you do that.


Case Study

Find out how we used Contextual Inquiry to help a packaging company improve the design of their machines and reduce system downtime and packaging waste for their customers.