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Building A Gold-Standard App: Solve Your User’s Problem First

Billy Wood14/05/2020Product

Having designed, built and launched mobile applications for over a decade – and for some of the world’s biggest organisations and most disruptive upstarts – we want to share our expertise as part of our 'Turbocharge your mobile apps' series. Here we explore the importance of identifying your users' problem before doing anything else.

We’ve seen it time and time again. If an app doesn’t solve a problem, it’s likely to fail. Think about it this way: without providing the answer to a distinct challenge or need, what reason would an app have to exist? It’d simply become a vanity project.

Following on from the first blog in our ‘How to turbocharge your mobile app’ series, here we explore how to uncover your user’s problem and use it to your advantage. Let us take you through a few tactics we use as part of our design sprints and discovery sessions with partners.

Understand the root of the problem

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Whilst there’s still a debate over whether Henry Ford actually said this, the sentiment remains the same: get to the core of a problem, and you can give people the best solution – even if it’s something they’ve never previously imagined.

Creating a uniquely elegant solution to this sort of unconscious need should be your ultimate goal. The result may not be the app equivalent of a car, but the closest to this you get, the more effective it’ll be – and the better its probability for success. 

This also means you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. A small change can make a big difference – and therefore solve your audience’s problem perfectly.

Frame the problem

To achieve this absolute gold standard, carry out a problem-framing exercise. As you scratch away at the surface of your user problem (defining it, the impact it has on your customers, and the context in which they face it), you’ll unveil an entirely new way of looking at it. Atlassian has a great guide on this.

We execute problem-framing exercises with our partners, often in the form of multidisciplinary discovery sessions. By having various disciplines in the same room, we receive a range of fresh perspectives on the problem.

Speak to your target users

Even if you only use a small sample group, user research can prove extremely helpful – providing you with an authentic, objective human opinion. Then, when it comes to framing your problem and planning the app’s functionality, you’ll have emotional and real-world responses to guide you.

User research doesn’t have to be complex. It can be a simple online survey, or a quick conversation to ask them about their problems. However, our dedicated user research team carry out a more in-depth study. For a recent project with a logistics partner, one of our designers spent an entire day with their delivery drivers. We gained a sense of their working patterns, and got first-hand insight into any problems that arose.

Defining your problem statement

Once you’ve framed your problem and drilled down into your user’s needs, you’re ready for the final step: producing your problem statement. We’ll be detailing this in our next blog – what exactly they are, why they’re useful, and providing some helpful examples of good and bad practice. We’ll then look at how your app might be able to solve a problem.

In the meantime, if you need any help defining your user problem, get in touch with our experts.