I am preparing a workshop with 6-8 users to define functionality for an intranet homepage.

The first part of this 3 hour exercise will be dedicated to discovering the "what".

  • How would you shape this initial part of the workshop?

  • How would you start gathering user requirements?

  • Would you start by defining the scenarios users will need to fulfill or just asking the "what do you need" question should be enough?

  • Would you use design probes?

  • 4
    I wouldn't ask 'what do you need' but something along the lines of 'what tasks do you perform every day that you need to look up company information?' The idea is to figure out what they do rather than what they think they need.
    – DA01
    Feb 18, 2014 at 2:30
  • Thank you @DA01, Would you use a specific technique to get the users thinking about those tasks? Some sort of creative way to get them aware of things that perhaps they don't even consider because of the limitations on their current system? I guess what I am trying to achieve here is to design this initial part of the workshop in a way that user generates as many ideas as possible starting from what they currently do and things that they might consider doing in future.
    – Taritaro
    Feb 18, 2014 at 7:32
  • 1
    I'm honestly not the best person to ask...I don't do nearly as much user research as I'd like to. But off the top of my head, I'd consider handing out task diaries. Have them use them for a few days and note every time they a) need to look up info on the intranet or b) need to look up something that they wish was on the intranet
    – DA01
    Feb 18, 2014 at 7:34
  • is the workshop for stake-holders or end users? Feb 18, 2014 at 12:55
  • @chrisbean the workshop will be with real users.
    – Taritaro
    Feb 21, 2014 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


"What do you need?" is certainly not enough and will lead to you receiving a lot of generic suggestions as your research group attempt to second-guess you and give you the answers they think you're looking for.

Instead, focus them on common tasks - searching for a colleague's contact details, administering their employment - and look for ways to improve the experience by adding missing information and shortening search and navigation times. Ask them to prepare a list of problems to bring along to the meeting so you can discuss and prioritise the most important problems.

To find out what's missing, ask them which tasks in their work take longest to complete. Aggregating these will give you an indication of where to focus your initial efforts to help the broadest range of people.

Designing useful homepages is not easy given the need to satisfy your stakeholders, particularly when they don't form the bulk of your users. This article on designing useful intranet homepages explains some of the pitfalls.

I'm not sure I'd introduce design probes until a later stage, once I have identified some problems to research.

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