Define the needer group needer groups the groups of

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Define the needer group. Needer groups, the groups of people being studied, generally have a mainstream core, along with sub-groups of ex- treme users. For example, eating is about as ubiquitous an activity as one can find in humans; yet within the topic of food, there are people whose needs are fairly typical and others with rather extreme needs. School lunch providers, survivalist campers, and astronauts have needs that are unique or more pronounced than those of the mass population. Studying extreme users can highlight needs that might not be noticed from studying only the mainstream group. Yet when a solution for these extreme needs is de- veloped, it s often adopted by the larger group. For example, Tang was originally created as an orange juice substitute for astronauts, but moth- ers adopted it as a nutritious, quick breakfast drink for their children. At the same time, study- ing only extreme user groups can result in over- built product specifications, so the general popu- lace should also be researched to get a sense of mainstream needs. Study established data for grounding in the subject. There s no sense in expending re- sources to rediscover information that has al- ready been published. Study publications, expert interviews, and other established sources to grasp the current level of understanding on the topic. Go to the field only when secondary sources are well understood. As well as decreasing the cost of field research, studying secondary sources also imparts a basic knowledge of the customer s situation that helps demonstrate credibility to the needer group in later stages of Needfinding. WATCH & RECORD People are often so accustomed to certain problems in their lives that they become oblivious to them. When asked about the situations in which these latent problems occur, they frequently fail to recog- nize that the problems exist at all. Directly observe
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people s behavior in their own environments to gain a clearer understanding of their situations. Immerse oneself in the needer group. Becoming a member of the group and immersing oneself in that group s context gives designers an especially rich understanding of the group s needs. That s why many designs, such as bifocals, the Band-Aid, and the Post-it Note, originate from designers making products for themselves. With an intimate knowledge of the problem, the designer can make more-informed decisions about how to meet the needs he or she is trying to serve. Avoid intrusions to keep the behavior natural. Studying people s activities inher- ently changes their behav- ior. Interruptions can change people s workflow, and questions can make them reconsider their actions. In addition, people alter their behavior when they know they re being observed, because they want make a good Observation may offer occasional indirect indications, but generally doesn t give clear access to people s reasoning and emotions impression. To minimize these effects and keep customers behavior as natural as possible, limit intrusions into their environment and actions.
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