Involve users in product and scope definition

Definition: Addressing the needs of the user should be a core element in any kind of product development. Though many agree on the importance of user orientation, many products are still launched with severe challenges: poor design and usability, illogical flows, poor performance, lack of functionality, unnecessary features, and unhelpful help functions.

However, creating a user-oriented product and involving users throughout its development is not the same as creating exactly what the users ask for. A product should normally target a broad spectrum of users with slightly different needs. Additionally, not all users know exactly what is possible

  • Several studies have found a consistent positive relationship between market orientation and user orientation . Projects that go this way may improve economic performance by over 50%. ref (Maydeu-Olivares & Leno, 2003).
  • Studies show that lack of user involvement is a main factor (15% of the cases) in projects that fail. ref (Chaos manifesto, 2013)


Involvement of users is relevant throughout development of a product. From early validation of an idea, to definition of requirements, testing, implementation, marketing support, and continuous improvement. 

Involvement of users requires more questions to be answered:

  • What is the need for user involvement
  • Who are the user classes
  • How shall each class be represented
  • When is the involvement required
  • Who is responsible for ensuring user involvement


Set expectations right. Inviting users into product development is not the same as letting users dictate the content of the product. It is important to communicate the purpose from the beginning.

Allocate time to use the input from users. If you invest the time to involve users you also need to incorporate time to use the input otherwise time is being wasted.

Keep in mind that the primary purpose of user involvement is to create a great product it is not an objective in itself. Carefully examine the costs and benefits and improvement potentials. User involvement activities can be time consuming.

Since users are not always fully allocated to a project it can important to plan user involvement well ahead to ensure space in the calendar. The right users you want to involve are often busy people.