UX-begins with why insights tile

It always starts with the why

Crucial UX research is often overlooked.

A small but powerful set of fundamental UX questions should be the first talking points of any project, large or small, complex or non-complex. If you don’t know why you’re embarking on a digital project then you may as well give up right at the start – you will literally be throwing money away.

So, to help I’ve outlined below the set of questions I ask at the start of all projects I’m commissioned to work on.

Essential ‘need to knows’ before beginning a UX project.

The initial questions can be split up into sections:

  • Who
  • What
  • How
  • Why
  • Constraints
  • Workflows
  • User Journeys

Let’s take a look at these questions in more detail.


Define who will be using your website – don’t build it for the MD or CEO, they’re not the primary users.

  1. Who is your target users?
  2. Do you have multiple target users?
  3. Are they new or existing users, or both?


Now you’ve identified who will be using your website, it’s vital you are clear what they intend to do.

  1. What is the problem you’d like to solve?
  2. What are the user behaviours when on your website?
  3. What do they want/need?
  4. What are their pain-points, what do they dislike?
  5. What happens if you solve the users’ problem?
  6. What happens if you don’t solve the users’ problem?


So, now you have got a clearer picture – make sure you know how to solve these issues.

  1. How did you find out about the problem?
  2. Is there any research evidence for this problem?
  3. How did you try solving the problem in the past (if applicable)?
  4. How are we going to solve the problem?
  5. How will you measure the success of the project once the problem is solved?


By now, you will have identified the critical ‘why’ – make sure you document it and stay focused on ensuring you deliver it.

  • Why are we solving the problem?


Many projects have constraints, often imposed by 3rd party stakeholders. Make sure you know what you’re up against so you can plan for any potential issues in future project sprint runs.

  1. Is there a fixed project deadline?
  2. Which platform is it designed for?
  3. Are all stakeholders available to communicate throughout the duration of the project?
  4. Is there any legacy technology that may restrict functionality we have to allow for?


You need to clearly map out the two essential workflows – your own internal processes and how they interact/overlap with the user flow on your website.

  1. Describe your internal workflow. i.e. map out your processes on order fulfilment, marketing touchpoints etc. Detail how it is now and how you would like it to change.
  2. Describe the user workflow – If you have more than one target user, make sure you describe them all separately. Detail how it is now and how you would like it to change.

User Journeys.

Now it’s time to expands on the user journey(s) in more detail – essential user questions are:

  1. What are your users’ goals?
  2. What are their motivations?
  3. What’s their current pain points?
  4. Describe their overall character.
  5. What are the primary tasks they want to achieve?

Keep the project on track.

Now you have more detail about your user’s journey, you can map it out. Tick each one below when complete:

  • Setting the scene – Where is the user, what’s around them, are they being distracted, are they short of time etc.?
  • Progress – Quantify how each step enables the user to get to the next one.
  • Devices – how are they viewing the website?
  • Functionality – What type of functionality are they expecting? Is it achievable?
  • Emotion – Are they engaged, bored, annoyed?

After you’ve answered all the questions and completed the visualisation of the user journey – it should have:

  • The user persona profile.
  • A title highlighting the targeted problem, i.e. ‘Quick Checkout Solution.’
  • A sketched series of actions the user will take – starting at their landing page, finishing at the goal action required i.e. ‘Homepage – Thank you page after checkout.’
  • A summary of what happens in every step of the series.
  • The device used but the user.
  • Benefits will be highlighted for both the user and business.
  • Developer notes can bee added at this stage to flag any potential issues or bottlenecks.

Remember: your website is built for your users – not your MD.