As UX researchers and innovators, one of the critical steps in solving user experience (UX) issues is problem scoping. It involves defining the problem accurately, abstracting it to gain more options, and getting to the root causes for effective solutions. In this article, we will explore the process of problem scoping, how to get to the root causes, the benefits of abstracting the problem, and crafting problem statements, with simple examples for better understanding.
What is Problem Scoping?
Problem scoping is the process of clearly defining and narrowing down the UX issue that needs to be addressed. It involves understanding the problem in detail, identifying its boundaries, and determining the specific area to focus on. Problem scoping is crucial as it helps researchers and innovators to clearly define the problem, set the right goals, and align the solution with the desired outcomes.
The Process of Problem Scoping
The process of problem scoping typically involves the following steps:
- Identify the Problem: The first step is to identify the UX problem that needs to be addressed. For example, a mobile app has low user engagement among young adults.
- Define the Boundaries: Next, define the boundaries of the problem by considering various factors such as user group, geographic location, and impact on business goals. For example, the problem may be limited to young adults (18–24 years old) in the United States, and the impact may be decreased retention and conversion rates, and missed revenue opportunities for an e-commerce platform.
- Abstract the Problem: Abstracting the problem involves looking at the problem from a broader perspective and considering multiple possibilities. This allows for more options and potential solutions. For example, instead of focusing solely on the low user engagement, abstracting the problem may involve considering the entire user journey, including onboarding, navigation, and content organization.
- Craft Problem Statements: Crafting problem statements involves creating clear and focused statements that outline the problem, its impact, and the beneficiary. Problem statements help in aligning the team’s efforts towards a common goal. For example, a problem statement for the low user engagement on the mobile app could be: “Low user engagement on the mobile app among young adults (18–24 years old) in the United States, resulting in decreased retention and conversion rates, and missed revenue opportunities for the e-commerce platform.”
Getting to Root Causes
Once the problem has been scoped, the next step is to identify the root causes. Root causes are the underlying factors that contribute to the problem. Understanding and addressing the root causes is essential for finding effective solutions. There are several techniques that can be used for root cause analysis, such as the 5 Whys approach and Fishbone Diagram.
Example of Getting to Root Causes:
Let’s consider the example of a mobile app with low user engagement among young adults in the United States. Through user research, the team identifies that users are dropping off during the onboarding process, finding it difficult to navigate within the app, and not finding the expected content based on their interests.
Using the 5 Whys approach, the team can ask “why” multiple times to dig deeper into the problem. For example:
- Why are users dropping off during onboarding? — Because the sign-up process requires too much information.
- Why does the sign-up process require too much information? — Because it aligns with business requirements.
- Why are users finding it difficult to navigate within the app? — Because the icons are confusing.
- Why are the icons confusing? — Because they were not tested with users during the design phase.
- Why are users not finding the expected content based on their interests? — Because there is no personalized content based on their preferences and browsing history.
Through this process of asking “why” multiple times, the team can identify the root causes of the low user engagement, which include a lengthy and cumbersome sign-up process, confusing icons, and lack of personalized content.
Abstracting the Problem Gives You Options
Abstracting the problem allows researchers and innovators to look beyond the surface-level issue and consider multiple possibilities. It helps in generating more options and potential solutions to address the problem effectively. Abstracting the problem involves looking at it from different perspectives, considering various factors, and exploring different angles.
Example of Abstracting the Problem:
Let’s consider the example of a website with low conversion rates for the checkout process. Instead of focusing solely on the checkout process, abstracting the problem may involve considering factors such as website load time, user interface design, payment options, and trustworthiness. This broader perspective may reveal that the slow website load time, complicated user interface design, limited payment options, and lack of trust signals are all contributing to the low conversion rates. By abstracting the problem, the team can explore multiple options to address each contributing factor and potentially improve the overall conversion rates.
Crafting Problem Statements
Crafting problem statements is a crucial step in problem scoping. It involves creating clear and focused statements that articulate the problem, its impact, and the beneficiary. Problem statements serve as a guide for the team and help in aligning their efforts towards a common goal. A well-crafted problem statement should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Example of Crafting Problem Statements:
Let’s consider the example of a social media platform that is facing low user retention among Gen Z users. A problem statement could be: “Low user retention among Gen Z users on the social media platform, resulting in decreased daily active users, missed advertising revenue, and potential loss of market share.” This problem statement clearly outlines the problem, its impact on the business, and the beneficiary (Gen Z users).
Problem scoping is a crucial step in solving UX issues effectively. It involves accurately defining the problem, abstracting it to gain more options, identifying the root causes, and crafting problem statements. By following a systematic process of problem scoping, UX researchers and innovators can better understand the issues, align their efforts, and develop effective solutions to improve the user experience. So, next time you encounter a UX problem, remember to scope it out, dig into the root causes, and abstract it for more options! Happy problem solving!