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Yingzhao Zhou

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Identifying user outcomes

Andy Braren avatar

Author: Andy Braren | Last edit: May 01, 2024

What are user outcomes?

A user outcome statement is an expression of how users measure success when getting a part of their job done.

Each statement focuses on a “need” and intentionally doesn’t mention specific products or solutions. This helps ensure that they stay durable/relevant for a longer period of time, and can be used by multiple product teams who create solutions for the same target user.

User outcomes are based on what Tony Ulwick calls “desired outcomes'' in his outcome-driven innovation framework, and are similar to the concept of a “hill” in IBM’s Enterprise Design Thinking framework. Unlike hills, they don’t include a specific metric/target until after user interviews are conducted to determine what that should be.

Why identify user outcomes?

User outcomes:

  • Help teams align on the user needs their product intends to fill
  • Help teams identify other products in the portfolio that are targeting the same user needs
  • Can be measured over time as the product improves to see how new solutions/features affect user satisfaction in achieving their desired outcomes
  • Can promote creativity by encouraging teams to focus on the problem to solve, rather than specific solutions to build

User outcome statements become even more useful when measured via a user outcome survey.

When should you identify user outcomes?

Ideally, identifying the user outcomes that your product/solution supports should happen early on in the product’s lifecycle. If you don’t know how a significant new feature you’re working on is going to benefit users, that’s a great time to pause and work with the product team to identify its target user outcomes.

How to create user outcome statements

Identify the target user

Use the Problem Framing Method (coming soon, Miro activity here) to identify who the intended user of your team’s product or service is, and what problems the team assumes or knows that they face. Specific examples of pain points from specific users or customers are very helpful to create good user outcome statements.

Check for existing user outcomes

Every user outcome statement that the team has ever tested with any user type is collected in our user outcome repository spreadsheet. Check it to see if any user outcome statements have already been tested with the user type you’re interested in and seem related.

If you don’t find any user outcome statements that relate to what you’re working on, or it’s been long enough that you believe a user outcome would be worth re-surveying, continue.

Gather related user research

Check for existing user interviews

Search through the Research page of UXD Hub and in EnjoyHQ for any studies that may relate to your target user or the problems the team thinks they face. Jobs-to-be-done and Top Task studies are particularly helpful when creating user outcomes because they explore many different aspects of a user’s role and likely at least touch on the problem space you’re interested in.

Conduct new user interviews

The set of user outcomes you create will almost always be better if you conduct even a few general problem discovery interviews with users first. Seek to understand the tasks and jobs that they do day-to-day, and where they encounter the most friction. Identify themes of key tasks and unmet needs across participants (either using EnjoyHQ or a spreadsheet like this) and use those to inform new user outcome statements.

(Optional) Brainstorm with stakeholders

Run either a quick “speed boat” activity (Miro) or ideally a more thorough as-is journey map activity (Miro) with stakeholders to brainstorm unmet needs that the team believes users might have. Try to avoid creating user outcome statements based solely on internal brainstorming or assumptions.

Write the statements

(Source: Tony Ulwick’s jobs-to-be-done framework)

Based on the research and brainstorming you’ve gathered, identify themes of unmet needs and pain points that appear in more than one place. Have one person write a user outcome statement in the format above, and have 1-2 others review it to make sure it’s clear. This Miro activity can help.


Check out our user outcome repository for hundreds of examples that our teams have created, for a wide variety of user types.

Additional resources

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