“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abe Lincoln

I recently finished a UX design project for a startup and the one takeaway that I want to share with the rest of the world from this project is how spending time defining the problem set saved my time while designing the user interface.

I asked a few important questions from the stakeholders before anything else. These questions are important to ask as it defines the scope of the project and the reason behind all the design choices that I was going to make.

There questions were simply...

  1. What problem are we trying to solve?
  2. How is this design going to help the business?
  3. Who are we designing for?  
  4. What activities do they perform?
  5. What problem are they struggling with?
  6. What is the unique value proposition?
  7. What is not in scope?
  8. What is success?
  9. What are the common use cases and edge cases in focus?

Answering all these questions took some time, but once I had the answers and documented them on the landing page of the project in Figma (a place easily visible to the rest of the team) everything started to make sense.

The more time and effort I put into defining the problem set of the project the easier, better and more on track it was later on. By following this pattern, you are more likely to maintain your budget, time constraints and project scope.

That being said, once a project scope and problem sets are definied, it should still be constantly communicated and revised with the entire team every now and then because digital products are ever evolving.

Being more problem focused than solution focused — formulating and understanding the context and the ‘levels’ of problems you are dealing with and prioritising them means you solve them faster and more effectively with less effort.