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The Importance of Well-defined User Requirements

At the heart of any product development is the user’s requirements. What the user needs should form the basis of the entire project and shape decision-making throughout. However, many developers embark on projects without truly understanding what the user wants and needs.

In most cases, the success of a product is dependent on having a clear, in-depth recognition of the user’s requirements. So why do so many companies struggle to understand and meet these goals? In this blog post, we discuss the importance of user requirements, how to acutely identify them, and how to ensure the end product delivers the right solution.

The Difference Between Success and Failure

The user’s requirements are the framework for every stage of the process. As a result, a misunderstanding at the outset has a knock-on effect that causes the entire project to fail. The end result is an unsuitable product, an unhappy client, and a waste of time, money, and resources.

Clarity is crucial. Companies must take the time at the start of the project to develop a granular level of understanding. This initial investment is a worthwhile one. It increases the likelihood of the product delivering on all the client’s needs and decreases the timeframe between initial testing and launch.

The Art of Interrogation

One of the greatest difficulties developers face is a customer with an aspiration. Driven by emotion, these aspirations are difficult to interpret, and solutions are hard to find. The job of the developer is to cast aside the intangible requests and dig down to the root of the client’s needs.

There is an art to drawing out the key piece of information that turns the aspiration into actuality. It takes a balance between an open mindset and a critical approach. Sure, it is important to let the customer express their views, but interrogating their ideas is the most effective way to gain a real understanding.

In fact, such interrogation is crucial. Having an expert question the idea will help the client to self-investigate their needs. By working together, the client and the developers can use their emotional drive and practical nous to identify exact requirements and ensure the project begins with a solid foundation of understanding.

The planned solution should match the aims of the occupier. It should be able to fulfil their dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Generally, clients are not fully aware of their aspirations, but their marketing department should be.

A Guide for Decision-making

The user’s requirements are not just a starting point for the project. They are a reference that should mould the entire process. As the product starts to take shape, developers are faced with decisions that will affect the composition of the end result. Making the right choice means analysing each option in the context of the user’s requirements.

Losing sight of the customer’s issues and the solutions for them is a challenge, especially for projects that span months and years, not days and weeks. In some situations, the product arc can begin to take control, and act as a driver. By continually referring back to the initial meeting with the client and the agreed goals, developers can gain a sense of clarity and refocus their mind.

Defining User Requirements for The Key

Isotoma recently worked with The Key to relaunch its national information service for school leaders. As a vital source of knowledge and ideas for almost half the schools in England — including 75,000 school leaders and 17,000 governors — it was important to design a content management system for The Key that presented information in an accessible way, based on user behaviour.

We began by working with The Key to understand what they felt were key user requirements — after all, it was them answering questions from its members daily. Then, we undertook rigorous user research to learn which features were being used, and how they could be improved. We learned what needed to be changed to drive engagement with underutilised features, and what could be altered to help users reach their destination faster.

By spending the time necessary to gain a comprehensive understanding of The Key’s requirements, and regularly referring back to their needs, we were able to create an accessible service that has become indispensable for school leaders.

Choose a Developer That Prioritises Your Needs

At Isotoma, we refuse to commence with a project until we know and understand exactly what the client requires — no matter how long it takes. If you want to work with a developer that demonstrates total commitment and pays meticulous attention to details, contact the Isotoma team today.