How jobs to be done can aid your first user experience


I’ve drunk the jobs-to-be-done Koolade and there is no coming back. Jobs-to-be-done is a framework which allows for uncovering customer requirements in more depth, so that you can ensure what you build maps to what customers want. through the process you’ll conduct open-ended interview to understand:

  • what solutions customers are currently using
  • how they feel about them
  • what their ideal solution would do (even if it doesn’t currently exist)
  • what job they would employ your product to do

Your role is to then take all the responses, annotate and create high level requirements from this. We’re looking to understand what job the customer is looking to “hire” your product to do. Its not asking your visitors for product specs or to design the product for you, they don’t know ( the apocryphal quote from Henry Ford fits here: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”)

However ensuring that you’re solving the right problem and building solutions to help with customer needs means that you don’t waste resources, saves time and results in happier customers. I’ve used this framework across a number of industries and it is remarkably robust.

I believe jobs to be done are more effective than personas. Most personas that I encounter seem cliched. A JTBD allows you to stack numerous jobs on a single person irrespective of their demographic or psychographic background. Others would say that a well sketched out persona should already include the JTBD and the additional detail in a personas allows you to have more empathy for the subject. I suppose it’s a matter of personal preference.

A colleague recommended some helpful books recently about Jobs to be Done:

  • Cindy Alvarez’s Lean Customer development
  • Alex Osterwalder’s Value proposition canvas (for the second time)

both of these are not just theoretical models about how to get insights, but offer actionable step wise processes to gain insights.

A new project we undertook was to use JTBD to aid onboarding and create a better first user experience. We have one onboarding sequence for everyone, irrespective of their requirements. As you can imagine this isn’t perfect. Once we outlined the key jobs that were required we went further with a survey to get even more insights. We asked a number of questions, but a couple were useful for this area:

  • finding additional challenges
  • finding satisfaction points

We could then segment this based on paying vs non-paying users as well as the core job they were interested in. Once this was analysed we could find insights that would match the specific job with the best part of the product as well as the additional challenges they had with parts of the product that help with these requirements. This would aid them and give them a more tailored first user experience.

More testing and development needs to happen in this area, I will report back on results.