Working with assumptions as a product designer

When we get any product requirement, we always make assumptions about the users, solutions and try to fill in the empty boxes with our assumptions. We do this while we going through the requirement document or talking to a PM. Do we validate those? Or we get biased with the information provided in the requirement document. When we design in silos and looking at the designs or solutions for hours, it seems like the most obvious thing in the world.

As a product designer, it’s very difficult and dangerous to say that I have the answer without actually having your users look at it and trying it out. In my experience even when you have a gut feeling that this will definitely work, there is no harm validating it not always with actual users but other stakeholders.

Well, Identifying and discussing assumptions is a great group exercise that should be done with the whole team over a workshop or in a meeting using stickies or a whiteboard. Product designers should initiate this conversation. These conversations help you and your team to agree on the bounds of the project or a feature. Discussing assumptions with leadership is also a good way to understand what they think and believe and this is not a one-time exercise, this is an iterative process.

Initial assumptions

This is the first step that you should do when you get a requirement.

  1. Discuss as a team: Do we fully understand the specific user needs and/or problems we should solve? Do we have a specific solution or direction in mind?

If it’s hard to get the whole team together, do it using online products like Miro or Fig Jam and share it with everyone to get feedback but it’s always best to do it together with the team — Design, Product, SMEs, etc.

Revised assumptions

Now once you have a good amount of information, the next step is to validate those. This can be done by understanding:

  1. What research and data support your perspective. Do you have data or you need to get that data? Look for the methods you can use to do this

Well, that’s all. These suggestions and process is based on my experiences and learnings. If you have any questions or more suggestions feel free to put them in the comment section.

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If you have any questions or more suggestions feel free to put them in the comment section.

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Prateek Gupta

Writer, artist, marathon runner, travel freak, comic fan and a gym addict. Currently working as Product Design Lead @ Flipkart