How to Identify User Problems in UX Design [+ Best Tools and Methods]

How to Identify User Problems in UX Design [+ Best Tools and Methods] cover

Understanding and addressing user problems is a fundamental aspect of effective UX design.

By proactively seeking out and resolving these issues, designers can create more intuitive, enjoyable, and effective user experiences. That also helps with customer retention.

In this blog, we’ll discuss a few techniques and tools to identify user problems. Let’s get right to it.


  • A user problem is something a user struggles with when trying to achieve a goal or complete a task. Digging deeper into user problems helps UX designers identify user pain points and create experiences that fulfill their needs.
  • User research includes several techniques, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and usability testing. It helps you collect data on user needs, behavior, pain points, and preferences.
  • User personas are fictional characters that represent your ideal customers. They provide a clear picture of user goals, expectations, and needs.
  • User journey maps help visualize how users navigate your product and the steps they take to realize a goal.
  • Other methods to identify user problems include problem statements, affinity diagrams, and impact-effort matrices.
  • Userpilot’s features, such as in-app surveys, event tracking, and user behavior analytics, come in handy for user research. Book a demo to see how we can help!

Try Userpilot and Take Your User Experience to the Next Level

What is a user problem?

A user problem is a challenge or an obstacle a user faces when trying to achieve a goal or accomplish a task. Typically, the user is aware of the struggle, even if they can’t pinpoint its root causes.

A thorough knowledge of user problems facilitates the development of products that address real user needs. Plus, it allows UX designers to create frictionless experiences that meet user expectations.

Methods to identify user problems

Identifying and understanding user problems is an indispensable part of building user-centric products. Here are a few techniques to help you get started:

User research

User research covers various techniques that help collect and analyze data about user behavior, preferences, and pain points. It can help you dig deeper into target users’ minds and understand who they are, what motivates them, and what struggles they face.

You can use the following methods to perform user research:

  • Surveys – These are excellent tools for gathering data about your audience’s needs and pain points. While in-app surveys are ideal for active users, email surveys work best for inactive and potential users.
Surveys in Userpilot.
  • User interviews – These are short one-on-one conversations where you can dig deeper into a user’s desires, dislikes, opinions, and preferences.
  • Usability testing – It involves testing a product or certain parts of it on real-life users and collecting their feedback. In-app notifications and surveys can help boost participation in usability tests by as much as 4X. See our case study to understand how we made this possible!
  • Focus groups – You invite a group of existing or potential users to discuss specific topics and record their responses. These help gain insights into user beliefs, motivations, and struggles.
  • Social listening – It’s a clever way to find out how your audience feels about a particular subject. You can dig deeper into their emotions, ideas, and belief systems.

Example of user research tools for studying target audience

  • Userpilot – You can create in-app surveys using a vast library of pre-built templates. You can even trigger specific surveys for a user segment. Plus, you get robust analytics tools to monitor in-app activity and analyze user behavior.
Dashboard in Userpilot.
  • Qualtrics – You can use Qualtrics to create and share online surveys. The platform also lets you analyze survey responses.
  • Brand24 – This tool allows you to monitor social media conversations. You can use it to track brand mentions and trending topics that are relevant to your audience.

User persona template

A user persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It helps you take a deep dive into user goals, needs, and pain points. That, in turn, ensures user-centric UX design.

You can create user personas using insights gathered from user research. You can even segment your audience based on shared characteristics or goals and design personas for each group.

User personas help UX designers and other stakeholders keep the end user at the heart of all their decisions. Below is a customizable template for creating user personas from Miro.

User persona template from Miro.

User persona example

A user persona should offer clear details, such as what a user wants to accomplish and the challenges they have to overcome. It should also outline where they work, what they do, and how your solution can benefit them. Depending on your target audience, you can also include their age, preferred languages, interests, and more.

Example of user persona.

User journey maps

A user journey map is a good starting point for visualizing how users move through your product. It can help you drill down into specific user interactions and touchpoints and identify the steps they take to complete a task.

You also get insight into their emotions and pain points throughout the journey, from the discovery phase to conversion, and understand the “why” behind their behavior. That, in turn, helps you identify areas of friction, find new opportunities, and devise ways to improve the UX.

You can choose from the following types of user journey maps:

  • Current-state map – It visualizes a user’s current experience as they navigate your product.
  • Future-state map – It’s a visual representation of the ideal interaction between a user and your product after implementing specific improvements.
  • Day-in-the-life map – It takes into account everything a user does, feels, and thinks on a typical day, even outside of your product.
  • Service-blueprint map – It outlines a comprehensive roadmap of service delivery, including key activities and stakeholders involved at each stage.
User journey map creation.

Current state user journey map example to understand how users interact

You can use Userpilot’s path analysis tool to visualize the steps users take to realize a particular goal. It helps you identify and replicate happy paths to improve feature adoption and user activation.

Here’s a glimpse of what a current-state user journey map looks like:

Path analysis in Userpilot.

Problem statements

A problem statement is a brief yet specific description in a few sentences of an issue users face. Writing problem statements can help you articulate the problem you want to solve and define the scope of UX design.

A problem statement usually includes the following:

  • Who is facing the problem?
  • What is the problem?
  • Where does this problem arise?
  • When (in what situation) does this problem come up?
  • Why does the problem occur?
  • Why is it important to address the problem?

You can use problem statements to summarize key points from user research and identify the main problem. They are equally crucial for guiding product development and management decisions for solving problems.

How to write a problem statement.

Problem statement examples

It’s worth noting that problem statements aren’t an exhaustive list of all issues users face. Instead, they focus on a specific problem and the ones related to it.

Here are a few problem statement examples:

  • For a CRM platform – Sales reps have a hard time accessing customer details while they’re out of the office. That makes it difficult for them to prepare for client meetings and update customer profiles after a meeting. It is because our platform isn’t mobile-responsive.
  • For a food delivery app – Customers need to get in touch with support executives or call the restaurant to get an update on their order. The process is cumbersome, and many users don’t place repeat orders due to this. It is because our app doesn’t have a real-time tracking feature.
  • For an online thrift store – Sellers don’t have access to buyers’ locations, and buyers can’t filter sellers by location. It results in unfulfilled or canceled orders due to high shipping costs. It’s creating friction for both sellers and buyers and impacting revenue.

Affinity diagrams

Affinity diagrams are a visual tool for organizing user research data and design ideas into groups based on their natural relationships. They can help you analyze large amounts of data from user research and problem statements and identify meaningful patterns and themes.

You can use affinity diagrams to identify the most common or urgent user problems and prioritize them when brainstorming possible solutions.

An affinity diagram example for analyzing data

Here’s an example of what an affinity diagram looks like:

Example of affinity diagram.

Impact-effort matrix

An impact-effort matrix is an effective decision-making tool that helps prioritize user problems based on their potential impact and required effort. You can use it to compare and rank problems based on how much value its solution will offer to users and how much resources you need to invest.

For instance, you can decide to tackle high-impact and low-effort tasks first, as they can help improve your return on investment (ROI).

Let’s say users have trouble finding the right content in your product’s in-app resource center. A high-impact and low-effort solution for improving navigation is to add a search bar. On the other hand, re-organizing the content library based on features and use cases can be treated as a high-impact and high-effort solution.

Impact effort matrix.

Impact-effort matrix example

A common way of creating an impact-effort matrix is to divide a page into quadrants:

  • Thankless tasks – Low impact and high effort.
  • Major projects – High impact and high effort.
  • Fill-ins – Low impact and low effort.
  • Quick wins – High impact and low effort.
Example of impact effort matrix.


An in-depth understanding of user problems lays a strong foundation for a user-centric UX design process. From conducting user surveys and interviews to creating user personas and problem statements, there are several methods to identify users’ problems. Techniques like affinity diagrams and impact-effort matrices even let you compare different problems and set the right priorities.

Userpilot offers several tools, such as in-app surveys and user behavior analytics, to help you get started with user research. Book a demo to see the platform in action.

Try Userpilot and Take Your Product Growth to the Next Level

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