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Chapter 3. Knowing Your Customers: Princ... > Techniques for Knowing Your Customer...

3.2. Techniques for Knowing Your Customers

We have described what it means to understand the elements of every design: people, tasks, technology, and social issues. Here we describe specific techniques that you can use to gain this understanding. Techniques such as task and customer analysis, observations, interviews, surveys, focus groups, and Web site evaluations help you characterize target customers and their needs. Some of these techniques are good for qualitative information, others for quantitative. The key is to use a mixture of techniques to get a more complete picture of who your customers are and what they need.

The word need here is important. One of the major problems with traditional software engineering methodologies is that they have focused on what clients say they want. The difference between what clients ask for and what customers need has led to many project failures in the past. Customers themselves cannot easily express what they need.[2] The methods we present here focus on finding out what these needs are.

[2] Customers are good at using a Web site and being able to say that it is something they do not need. This is where the iterative design techniques described in Chapter 4—Involving Customers with Iterative Design come into play.


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