Problem Statements in UX Discovery

Summary: In the discovery phase of a UX project, a problem statement is used to identify and frame the problem to be explored and solved, as well as to communicate the discovery’s scope and focus.

Running discoveries can be challenging. Many teams start discovery research with little direction as to what problem they want to solve. When this happens, discoveries meander and result in dwindling team and stakeholder morale. Worse still, some discoveries begin with investigating solutions, rather than the problems those solutions are intended to solve. (Remember: if you’re investigating only solutions in a discovery, you’re not doing a true discovery! )

To avoid these issues, spend time upfront to identify and frame the problem . If you don’t know the problem, you’re not going to have much luck solving it! The better a problem is articulated, the easier and more effectively it can be solved. One device that help teams to frame a problem is a problem statement.

What’s a Problem Statement?

First of all, it’s important to not confuse problem statements with the design-thinking concept of a point-of-view statement or user-need statement . (These are commonly produced in the discovery phase, but they are typically created only at a later stage of discovery, after user research has been completed.)

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