When there is a new project waiting ahead, you and your design team probably can’t wait till they fully dive into the design process and start wireframing and prototyping. At such a moment, gathering UX requirements may seem like a sheer formality that would only take your precious time.
Indeed, neglecting this essential step may cause you some problems at the later stages of the design process. For example, it may lead you to the following situation:
To better understand why gathering UX design requirements is so crucial, we will provide you with four points that prove that this initial stage of product design is worth both your time and effort.
And to dive deeper into the topic, it’s better to start with the definition of “requirement gathering”.
Brief explanation of what project requirements gathering is
The requirement gathering is the initial stage in the product design process during which you collect and document information on the needs, wants, and expectations of the investors, users, and other stakeholders.
In the end, you get a list of points concerning the project’s goals and details, adhering to which help you design a successful product.
There are three main types of requirements:
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- Business requirements contain information about deadlines, branding, pricing, marketing and sales goals, competitors, and business objectives.
- User requirements show what your target audience expects to find in your product. For this purpose, you often have to classify the users into groups according to their needs, lifestyle, use conditions, and so forth.
- System requirements present specifications on technical limitations and opportunities, like on which operating systems the product is supposed to work, which devices it will support, using what technologies/tools you will implement all product features, and so on.
Now that we have a general understanding of the notion, let’s see why you should take your time to collect requirements for UI/UX projects.
4 reasons why capturing requirements for a design project is important
Failure to properly define requirements causes almost 40 % of projects’ miscarriage. I guess this statistic alone should make you think seriously about the need to collect design requirements, but if it is not enough below are four more proves.
1. No discrepancies between expectations and the final result
Before starting a project, you definitely need to know what result you want to get at the outcome. Defining requirements at the very beginning of the product lifecycle works like a plan that ensures you are on the right track to achieving your goals.
2. Satisfied needs of your potential users
Usually, when considering your product, potential customers have certain features in mind that they expect to find in your software. If you are able to fit those expectations, your chance for success is high. And as you are not a psychic and can’t read people’s thoughts, gathering user requirements comes in handy here.
At least one-third of the data you gather should focus on real users and that’s why when collecting requirements you should conduct user interviews and surveys, create buyer personas, and so on.
For example, Clay Christensen, an academic and business consultant, once told a story when he wanted to increase the sales of milkshakes. First, he tried changing the flavor and the type of cup, but it didn’t work. Then Clay decided to observe real clients. He found out that the reason why people buy milkshakes was that it made their way to work more fun because due to the milkshakes’ consistency it takes longer to drink it. That’s how by identifying customer requirements Clay came to a decision to make milkshakes even thicker and the profit increased!
3. Common understanding and consistency of a project
The great benefit of requirement gathering is that the deliverables you get from this process can be shared across all your team members. And as the business/client needs often change during the development process, sharing project requirements will bring transparency and a full understanding of what your team is supposed to deliver at the end.
For instance, at Garofalo Studios their document with requirements contains a list of task put according to their priority, key project objectives, timeframes and schedule. Every two weeks Garofalo Studios tracks the progress of those key goals. The document is accessible to both team and stakeholders. This way each team member can see tasks approved by stakeholders and changes made to the project’s requirements, and stakeholders can follow the progress towards achieving kew tasks. That’s how design process stays transparent and flexible to changes.
4. Reduced need for rework
Designing a product without clearly defined requirements increases the risk of missing an important feature or element during the design process.
For example, imagine a situation when you has almost designed a particular screen of an applicant tracking system, and then it turns out that the layout has to contain the feature that allows quickly view full candidate portfolio. You have to rework and implement this important element to an already existing design. Seems like you’ve just wasted your time (and therefore money) because you haven’t determined this important requirement beforehand.
Pieces of advice on how to effectively gather requirements
To sum up, here are several recommendations that will make your requirement gathering process better:
- Be precise with documentation. Well-structured data makes it easy to search and navigate during the work.
- Put the right priorities. It is crucial to set logic and priorities to aim the goal with no time-wasting aspects.
- Choose right tools. Specifications, sketches, buyer personas, user stories, goals of the product – determine what you need, and don’t be afraid of asking for advice from experts.
- Stop guessing. Sometimes it can be very seductive not to disturb the client with inquiries because it seems obvious to you how this or that feature is supposed to work. But the success is often in details. Don’t base your requirement list on assumptions, but ask your client/stakeholders/users as many questions as you can.
- You have definitely missed something. Even being very precise and accurate can’t prevent you from missing some important information. That’s because to gather requirements you have to deal with humans, and it’s natural for them to forget something. But don’t worry, your document will change over time: priorities can shift, deadlines can change. Be ready to stay flexible and update your UX requirements in time.