Design solves a problem. To understand the problem we have to ask questions. But how do we know which questions to ask? Often times I forget some of them, since there are so many. Over the years, I’ve compiled a handy list of questions that I call a Design Brainstorm doc. I pull it up whenever I need to brainstorm a design challenge. These are not all the questions a designer should ask but it should be enough to get you started.
Below is my list of questions in no specific order because depending on the situation, some questions are more applicable than others.
- What’s the product? What is the problem it’s solving?
- Who is the target audience? Demographic?
- What do our users want to do? What do we want them to do?
- What’s our business model?
- How does the product work?
- What’s the typical use case? Now, 2nd and 3rd common use case? This will help us prioritize our features.
- What exists already? What are we missing?
- What should be designed? Which part of the product? (What’s the focus?)
- What are we trying to accomplish with this design?
- Is there a design language in place? Design style guide? What are the design guidelines?
- What’s our existing brand? Tone, voice? If none, how do we want to communicate our product’s message?
- Where and how will people first hear about our product or feature?
- What should people understand about our product at a glance, and is that compelling enough to convince them to go through the trouble of trying it out?
- What should people’s first-time experience through our product be, and how do we plan to demonstrate to them its value within the first minute?
- What do we know already from the user’s first reactions and feedback? Any concerns? What user research has been done already?
- When and how are we going to conduct user research and interviews?
- Who are our closest competitors? What can we learn from them?
- What sets us apart?
- What’s the best medium to express this? Mobile app (iOS, Android?), web, or both?
- What’s the current roadmap? Where do we see the product in 5 years? 10 years? 50 years?
It’s better to work with your CEO/PM/Head of Product to get these questions answered.
Depending on whether you’re designing something completely new or just a feature for an existing product, feel free to modify these questions and apply them to your scenario. I hope those questions will help you clarify your design goals.
Disclaimer: I borrowed some of the questions from Jason Fried’s and Julie Zhuo’s blog posts. Shout out to them!