Processes in Product | Jobs to be Done
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
I had the good fortune of attending the UXDX (user experience, developer experience) conference at the Royal Dublin Society in October (4th & 5th) as part of my training.
User experience is commonly defined as the overall experience of a user when using a product. UX design is predominantly concerned with creating products so that they are easy and pleasing to use, with the overall goal of attracting and retaining users.
The conference featured a broad array of speakers from across the globe. Among the many benefits of attending the event, it gave me the opportunity to gain key insights into the working process of design teams large and small. From monumental tech titans such as Google, to more compact design teams such as that of the US Air Force's Project Kessel Run.
Early into the first day of UXDX I noticed a fundamental notion being reverberated consistently throughout the duration of the conference. Jobs to be done. The jobs to be done school of thought encourages designers to empathise with users, foremostly considering the jobs that users hire products to complete. Teams are encouraged to question “What job is the user is trying to complete?” and “How can I help them do this better?” rather than “How can I make this product better?” Employing the jobs to be done framework allows product designers to build their products around the problem at hand. With the understanding that at a high level, a user does not buy a product - rather they employ a product or service to get a job done. As technology improves, jobs to be done remain the same - it is the solutions that change and improve.
“Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”
- Uri Levine, Co Founder of Waze
Often people’s notion of UX is primarily associated, perhaps even confined to, user interface design. The practice of designing interfaces to create accessible, digital products that are easy and pleasing to use. Great user interface design certainly can make a significant contribution to a great user experience when applied to a useful product. However, before concerning ourselves with the experience of using the product, first consider the job that the product is being hired for. The bulk of the UX and product design process should be focused on understanding the user’s needs or, defining the problem. During his talk, Val Scholz, Head of Engagement and Growth at Revolut, emphasised the pitfalls many teams face by rushing ahead with assumed solutions: “Two thirds of product decisions do not help to meet the goals of the product.” His team spends 80% of their time analysing the problem before considering execution. This allows teams to better align with the user and in itself employing this process is a form of risk mitigation.
An intense focus on the jobs we employ products to complete allows teams to understand how best to meet the user’s needs and solve problems more efficiently. This should be the initial focus in the user experience design process, which should inform every decision in the product design process. A deep understanding of the user, their needs and the jobs to be done should be nurtured through user research, by employing iterative design processes and methods such as the agile design method and lean UX.
The agile design method considers the process of product design a continual, iterative and incremental one; as opposed to a one time, linear process. By employing an agile methodology in the design and development of products, teams can gain a better understanding of the user’s needs. By analysing if a product completes the user’s jobs to be done, teams can continue to ideate, design and test methods to more efficiently complete the task at hand. Agile strategies can be implemented in the product design process through frameworks such as lean UX.
Lean UX is a rapid and iterative method of designing and testing, whereby a design team will address a problem, create a hypothesis and then produce a minimum viable product (MVP). An MVP is a version of a product that allows a team to collect the maximum amount of learning from customers with minimum effort. The MVP is released to users under observation; this allows design teams to analyse whether the product addresses the problem correctly and efficiently.
These methods, when applied to product design, can allow product teams to test whether their product completes the user’s jobs to be done, which consequently empowers teams to optimise products to complete the tasks for which they are employed more effectively and efficiently. This allows designers to quickly validate their ideas and eliminate any byproducts of processes that do not drive user value. Jobs to be done could be considered the cornerstone of the user experience from which the entire product design process should be informed.
- Aaron McAlinden