Discovering the Table Stakes and Delighters

Henry Ford is famously misquoted as having said “If I’d have asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse.’” Yet the sentiment is true: users tend to limit their imaginations to their own paradigm. They have a natural tendency to think of features that provide incremental benefits, such as more storage space, faster speed, or more configuration options. But focusing exclusively on those features will result in only moderate improvement, and never reach awe inspiring heights. Designers can mitigate this risk by using a combination of Kano Model and outcome driven interviews to probe for features that will truly delight customers. A big part of user research is discovering users’ requirements. After conducting many discovery interviews, I began to notice that my subjects didn’t see all product features equally – and yet the less discussed features were not the least important. Some features were taken for granted and never mentioned because people would be shocked if they were not there. Others were not mentioned because they were not expected, but people would still be delighted by their presence. I began to look for explanations of this phenomena and ways of coaxing the necessary information out of interviewees – to ensure the product we created would both meet expectations, and delight. My search took me out of the UX world and into the world of business analysts and economists. I discovered the Kano model of customer satisfaction, and outcome driven interviews by Anthony Ulwick. The Kano model provided an explanation for what I was observing, and outcome driven interviews provided a foundation for getting the data...