Design plans

When creating a digital solution for an end user, the first stage is to determine the exact user requirements, through the process of fact finding. After interviewing, observing, questioning and gathering all current documents related to the project, the next step is to create, evaluate and refine clear design plans.

User requirements

An important part of any software development project is determining the user requirements. Well thought out user requirements lead to improved customer satisfaction, clearer design plans and more accurate software solutions.

Failure to understand the desired requirements will lead to a longer development process and a less satisfactory outcome.

To ensure quality of design, and that the software solution is fit for purpose, specifications should be compiled through in-depth research and analysis.

Determining user requirements

To determine the exact needs of the client, and the functionality of the software, it is important to carry out thorough fact finding within the organisation.

There are five different investigative techniques for carrying this out:

Background reading

Read the documentation on the organisation such as purpose, aims, operations and functions. This can be useful in finding out how the organisation operates. This information should be readily available for you.

Interviewing

Interview the members of the organisation to get their views on day-to-day activities and gain an understanding of what their jobs involve. These interviews will give you information on how the company operates, but it will be time consuming.

Observation

Observe people at work to see how they operate, how the company works and about how jobs are usually done. However, observing employees can place extra stress on staff and may alter their working practises.

Document sampling

Read the organisation's documentation to see what they buy/sell/do and try to understand their processes. Look for order forms (electronic or paper), invoices, bills, websites etc. This information can be very useful in understanding what an organisation will need from a database application or a website.

Questionnaires

Questionnaires allow you to easily ask large groups of people a predefined set of questions. This can provide lots of information about how current systems work and how different users use these systems.

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Your design chapter should include evidence of fact finding for your website or solution

After you have completed your fact finding, you will need to list your user requirements for the website or application. Ensure your requirements are verifiable and concise.

Example of user requirements for a website