Life is a set of decisions. One after another we make little or big decisions that impact our life and the world around us. Let it be in personal or professional life, this is true for both.

Though we are not always consciously making decisions we make them and UX Designers should always keep this in mind. If users are not consciously making decisions we have to! Because, whatever we do, whatever we design, it will definitely impact the end-users. Always.

To be successful UX Designer, one must always think of users in relation to the message the design tries to convey. It’s easy if we know what the goal of the design is but if we don’t … well, that’s another story. And really defining a problem isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort.

Designers have different ways of how they approach problem-solving, and the one below is my personal approach. It might be exactly what you were looking for though it might also be very different from what you want. In the end, I hope it will at least give you a starting point to form your own way of defining a problem.

I’m very much a pen-and-paper kind of girl. I will always start defining problems by taking a pen and paper and writing things down. Only after this process is complete, I’ll create a solution in a digital form, and make digital copies of the process to archive everything.

The process of defining a problem

  1. Review any research you already have regarding the topic.
  2. Take post-its and write down what you believe are the true problems you’re trying to solve (one problem per post-it). Write down as many as you can think of and don’t worry about how they sound. Just write what comes to mind. If you’re doing this in a group don’t worry about duplicates at this point.
  3. Search for patterns, duplicates, and similarities. Group the post-it into bigger groups.
  4. Rephrase, reword or even completely rewrite some if it’s necessary.
  5. Think of success criteria and write those down (you can easily do this by using the same approach as we did for forming the problems).
  6. When you’re happy with the result, iterate with stakeholders. UXD is not a process that can be successfully done in solitude. Talk, talk, talk, and talk some more. And never forget to listen!

After iteration, at least in the theory, the problem should be formed, and everyone involved should be happy with the definition. Then the “fun” begins…

Until next time,
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