Web Design – How To Do A Needs Analysis With Prospective Clients

There are three core components to UX design: needs analysis, design, validation.

Needs Analysis


During needs analysis we look to answer the following questions:

  • Who are the property’s stakeholders (customer/user segments, internal stakeholder segments etc)?
  • What are the stakeholder segment’s needs (for users these will be use cases, internally these will manifest as metrics)?
  • Where do we currently sit in relation to our competition (we see this as direct/vertical competition as well as everyone else online)?

To answer the above questions we use the following tools:

  • Group brainstorm: an initial brainstorm is a great way to get the entire project team’s thinking aligned at the outset of a project. These sessions can have a number of objectives depending on the project.
  • 121 interviews: we always recommend one-to-one interviews with customers and internal stakeholders. These interviews are more intimate than group conversations and in our experience lead to more in-depth insights.
  • Questionnaires: quantitative questionnaires are a great way to answer specific questions. These questions are usually born out of the initial one-to-one questionnaires. We use a variety of channels to seed these questionnaires including client web properties, email lists and social profiles.
  • Analytics review: having a clear understanding of how people are currently using a site is paramount to informed UX design.
  • Heuristic reviews: here we compare our client’s web properties against their competitors as objectively using a set of criteria and marking system. This process uncovers trends, threats and opportunities.



The most robust UX design phases begin as a wide exploration and are then refined (ideally re-using stakeholder input).

The tools we use in the design phase include:

  • User profiles: we create a one page document for each of our core user segments outlining their personality, web experience and needs. This enables us to keep the segments in mind when discussing designs.
  • Sketches: in the sketching phase we look to quickly produce a large number of approaches to designing the user experience and interface elements. These are usually pinned up on a wall to enable us to talk you through our thinking.
  • Wiregaming: we use this brainstorming session to refine our sketches. It is a collaborative session involving us and our client where we evaluate and refine sketching to a core group.
  • Wireframes: the wireframes are a formal representation of our sketches they are higher fidelity and produces within a program such as Axure.
  • Functional specifications: the functional specification is a formal document that encompasses the wireframes and the functionality in detail. This is a key sign off point in our build process as the functional specification describes exactly what you’re going to get delivered.
  • Prototype: at times we will develop a working HTML prototype for clients. These are of great value as they allow us to evaluate the ‘flow’ of the UX. We generally develop these if we expect to go into in-depth user testing.



The best UX design is not a once off project, therefore UX validation is the most important process to UX design.

The validation phase looks to answer two questions:

  • What did we get right?
  • What did we get wrong?

The tools we use in the validation phase include:

  • Metric analysis: identifying, tracking and analyzing key site metrics on an on-going basis allow us to understand if we are delivering business outcomes. It allows us to optimize our efficiency in delivering business outcomes and allows us to identify new issues or opportunities.
  • Site questionnaire: we asses a portion of site visitors against key qualitative measures such as task completion and willingness to recommend.
  • A/B testing: here we evaluate opposing interface approaches in market to identify which has the largest impact.
  • Multivariate testing: where A/B testing tests two opposing approaches, multivariate testing tests permutations of individual site components such as copy, images, video, call-to-actions etc.
  • Web Design – How To Do A Needs Analysis With Prospective Clients

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