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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Create a Sketch of your Customers’ Needs


Flickr Photo Credit: ruimtevolk

Last week I wrote about Asking 20 Questions to Build Customer Empathy, a quick start guide to Customer-Centered Web Design. This week, I want to expand on that, and help you create a sketch of your customers’ needs.

A “sketch” is a perfect noun for what we want to achieve. From my Mac dictionary:

“a rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture”.

Exactly. We want to make a sketch of your customers’ needs before we start on the finished picture, in this case, your website. This sketch will assist you in developing the finished picture.

Ok, let’s get started. Here are five areas that you can brainstorm to start developing the sketch of your customers’ needs. Brainstorm 20 answers for each area (see Why twenty questions?).

  1. Goals: What problem are your customers trying to solve? Alternatively, what opportunity are they trying to capitalize?
  2. Motiviation: Why are they motivated to use a product or service like yours? Sure consider the typical carrots and sticks1, but also consider other motivating factors such as autonomy, mastery, and purpose2.
  3. Outcomes: What is the successful outcome? Paint a detailed picture of what this looks like.
  4. Pain: What is stopping your customer from solving their problem in their current situation? Think money, attitude, misconceptions, and values.
  5. Emotion: What do they need to enjoy the service or product? Sure, a problem might get solved, but it needs to address the emotional needs of your customer as well. Why can’t it be fun?

Now you have this sketch, what content will you develop for the website that addresses their goals, motivations, outcomes, pain and emotions? How will you structure the website to present this content?

I’m all about finding quick ways to help you shift your focus from what you are trying to sell, to the needs of your visitors, the customers of your website. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a huge external research project. The people in your company, such as sales and support representatives have a huge body of knowledge about your customers that needs to be tapped. Get them involved in this brainstorming process.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrot_and_stick

[2] Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

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