Needs Analysis

Phase Start / End: September 13th, 2018 --> September 23rd, 2018 (11:59pm)

Submission: As we are still coordinating the details of the website, you can submit your website as a team folder on this drive folder.


Inspirations and Observations: Observing the world around you, identify inspirations for your group's project. These may be either competitor products, related products, or apparently unrelated objects or interactions from which you can nonetheless draw inspiration.

Synthesize your discovery findings and create a report on what your project (brief) is, including how it will address the needs and values of your prospective users.

Demonstrate skills of empathy, contextual inquiry, need-finding, synthesis, construction and curation of usable design artifacts, and preparation of a professional report.


Conduct a contextual inquiry into the subject of your project proposal.

In synthesizing your collected data and producing your Needs Analysis, you may want to consider creating some of the following artifacts (decide upon which are useful for your team):

  • personas
  • concept models
  • goals
  • task decompositions
  • lexicons
  • experience maps
  • Contextual Inquiry models:
  • flow models
  • sequence models
  • artifact models
  • physical models
  • cultural models

After completing this inquiry, consolidate your findings (e.g., through affinity diagramming, card sorting, selection matrices) and create a set of design artifacts that will help you to plan and measure your project. These may include any of the design artifacts listed above.

Return to your project (design) brief and refine it. Your modified brief should reflect what you have learned about the problem and the approaches you might take to solve it. Your new project brief should be referred to as a design brief, and should be concise and crisp. It should answer:

  • What problem are you proposing to solve?
  • Who matters?
  • How do your prospective users think about this problem/activity?
  • What requirements must your solution satisfy?
  • What will the impact of a successful solution be?

Accompany your design brief with a narrative grounding your proposed approach in evidence from your discovery. You do not need to provide a solution. At this point you should not be providing one -- but you do need to make a compelling case that this problem's solution will be meaningful for your intended audience. You should also indicate any limitations or shortcomings that you believe are important for your client to understand.

Illustrate your design brief with appropriate design artifacts that help to make/support your case. You likely will not include all of the artifacts that you have created along the way. Distinguishing between artifacts that help you (as a designer) and artifacts that help your client is an important part of this process.

Your writeup should hang from a single page on your web site. You may include as many subsidiary pages as you need. Please inline images where they are illustrating accompanying text, i.e., make it possible to view both words and images simultaneously. Include only enough to make a compelling case for your brief and to demonstrate that your approach is grounded in research. Curation is a key metric here. If your web site were a printed report, it would probably be between 3 and 10 pages.

Please post an effort chart that displays where team members focused their efforts - in cases where each member did not make equal contributions to part of the Needs Analysis submission.


This assignment will be judged on the clarity, coherence, and compelling nature of your problem statement, along with the efficacy with which you ground it in evidence.

  • Do you communicate a clear vision of the problem you will solve and how this will address the needs, goals, and values of your (prospective) users?
  • Do you ground your vision in clear, concise, and well-curated evidence?
  • Do you present your vision with compelling artifacts crafted to support your case?
  • Have you appropriately addressed any shortcomings of your method or concerns regarding the validity of your approach?
  • Have you excised unnecessary and irrelevant distractions?
  • Have you presented the package in a suitably professional way?

Note that comprehensive coverage is not one of the criteria against which your work will be measured. This is a class project, and in any case time management always requires tradeoffs. However, you should document concerns, shortcomings, or areas not adequately investigated, as well as indicating why these tradeoffs were made.

We will be using the form below to evaluate each team.

Needs Analysis Phase Feedback (for display on website).pdf