A Design Tool To Help Grow Your Business -for Small Business Owners & Non-Design Professionals

Identify Yourself

As a designer, we first look at our client’s capabilities, resources, business model etc… I assume before beginning any work, you have done your SWOT analysis — Your capabilities, Your resources etc… (Your education, background, knowledge, passions, specialised skills, etc…I’m not planning to go deeper on this topic)


Being a designer, our next focus is “USERS”(Your customers). There’s a dangerous assumption that we know what they want.

It’s not about what the customers like, but it’s about getting inside their minds to think like them and understand their emotional drives.

Once you understand your customer’s needs, wants and desires, you can tune your product/service offerings. Otherwise, you are just buying a lottery ticket, hoping for success.

It’s not about us. It’s always about THEM.

“Oh…you are talking about customer research? That’s very expensive”


The fastest, easiest and most enjoyable way to figure out the requirements of customers is to ENGAGE with them in a face-to-face, real-time dialogue. Go and Meet a couple of existing clients, some prospects, your best and worst clients over breakfasts, lunches, coffees. Use Skype if needed. Ask questions at least for an hour. If you do this, you and your business communication will speak “Prospect Language” and you will know where to promote your product/service, when to promote your product/service and how to position your product/service.


Open-ended questions make a user provide detailed answers reflecting their attitudes, behaviours and actions. You have to encourage people to tell stories or experiences in their own terms, words. Open-ended questions help you to probe deep. Remember, deep probing will bring the necessary data for us. Let’s see some examples for leading and non-leading questions.

  • How do you feel about this color? (This is an open-ended question — Tries to get user’s view well as his feeling)
  • How happy are you with this jewellery? (Better question)
  • Can you explain me how did you find this jewel? (A better alternative)
  • How do you think this jewel will make you look/feel different or How do you think this jewel might change the way you are now?
  • What was the last influential function you attended?
  • What jewels did you wear for that function?
  • What made you to chose those jewels?
  • What is so annoying in this shop?
  • How do you feel the last time you entered this shop?
  • What are the things which felt good for you in this shop?
  • Can you explain the sequence of things happened after you entered the shop?
  • What made you select this shop?
  • Suppose after reaching home, you saw that a part of jewellery was broken. How do you feel?
  • What advice would you provide to somebody who likes to buy a new necklace?
  • How will you sell this product if you were a saleswoman?
  • You have three designs now. How do you know which one is best?
  • Imagine you like two designs of a necklace and are in a dilemma to choose one. What will you do?
  • How would you handle, if people are sceptical of your chosen design?
  • When was the last time you discussed about jewels to your friends or family? What did you discuss? Then…How often do you interact?
  • What was the last good jewellery shopping experience you had?
  • Recall a time, when you had a bad experience in buying jewellery. How did you feel?
  • Tell me something about your last purchased jewellery for your daughter?


  • Avoid “Why” questions — It implies there is a right answer. Forces them to provide an irrelevant answer.
  • Keep the questions short — less than 20 words
  • Avoid Multiple-Part questions
  • Avoid Double Barreled questions — Do you regularly buy jewellery from our shop during the period of discounts? (frequency of buying jewellery, buying from our shop, saving money, ready to wait — how many questions…..my head is spinning)
  • Vague questions affect the interview. Avoid words like “Rarely” “Usually” “Sometimes” “Most” “Few”.
  • Avoid double negatives — You don’t buy jewels from online because you are not sure about the quality?
  • Avoid bias. Keep beginner’s mind. (Many people have liked this jewellery. What do you feel about this jewel) (Would you agree that buying in a physical shop ensures quality than buying online?)
  • Don’t ask participants to predict the future
  • People have memory limitations. Avoid questions testing their memory power. Try to stick to recent events, and events connected to memorable time (Can you tell me the number of times you visited a jewellery shop in the last two years?
  • Use words like “Elaborate” “Explain” “Please tell me” “Describe” to probe further.
  • Social Desirability — Customers sometimes provide a response that is acceptable to the interviewer than the truth. It is important to understand this, provide them confidence and trust to get the truth.
  • Users may try to impress the interviewer. So their answers will be focussed to improve their self-image. We need to be cautious of the same.
  • Do not Judge. Just collect the data.
  • Do not use Authority Bias.
  • When you ask users to explain how they do, they may sometimes show “Recommended way of using the product/service”, but in actual they may be using shortcuts to do certain jobs. Make sure you probe deep to unearth those shortcuts.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store