What is needfinding?

Needfinding is an observational process of identifying a customer need that they themselves have not articulated or indeed are unaware of. It focuses on observing and deducing unmet needs rather than customer wants.

The concept of needfinding has was developed by Robert McKim already in the 1970s, but it has aged well, as Needfinding is still common practice among Product and UX teams for user and problem discovery in the Discovery step of the product management process.


The 4 steps of needfinding are:

  1. Frame and prepare. The product team develops a hypothesis about what the user might need. This helps to scope your research and set up the meeting environment. 
  2. Watch and record. Observing user behaviour in situ.
  3. Ask and record. Asking clarifying questions where necessary.
  4. Interpret and reframe. Analyze the data to identify any core insights and needs.
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