Have you ever been on the end of a long string of feature requests, either from users or management? These feature requests are usually very specific in how you are supposed to implement it. So much so that you, as a UX Designer or Product Owner, you sometimes feel like a tool. Well, there is a very simple way to change that. All it is going to take is for you to ask one simple question, and that question is: “What are you trying to achieve?”

“What makes this question so special?”, you may ask. Let me explain. This question does three things.

  1. Help you identify goals
    It makes the user / manager think about the goal of this feature. How else are you going to measure its success? Once the goal has been identified, you can measure it. If the user / manager just tell you what to build, you wouldn’t know what the success metrics should be. Have you ever designed a feature that was requested and the user / manager wasn’t happy with the outcome? Just a new program with the same or new problems?
  2. Evaluate the goal
    If you know what the goal is, you can explore the problem being solved and then compare that to the other problems being solved. This will give you a list of problems being solved and allow you to prioritise accordingly. A list of features are prioritised by effort in Sprints.
  3. It allows you to design (problem solve)
    If you are given a feature request, then the problem has been solved by the user / manager already. The problem here is, you don’t know if this is the best solution. If they tell you what they are trying to achieve, you can then do research on existing solutions, design new ones and test variants, in order to see which one achieves the specified goal best. This also, and very importantly, allows you as a UX Designer to fit the solution within the rest of the design; keeping a holistic view of the user experience. Feature requests tend to ignore existing flows (because it is page or functionality specific) and can negatively affect user journeys through increase complexity and diluting existing page focus.

What you want from users and management, is a list of goals and not a list of features. Features enable functionality. Goals address user & management problems and that is what design is after all: problem solving.