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Finding Opportunity in the App Market: Identifying User Pain Points


A mobile touchpoint has the power to enhance the user experience (UX), providing many benefits such as strengthening company reputation with positive brand interactions, improving customer satisfaction, as well as increasing sales and conversion rates.


With the number of smartphone users currently exceeding 2.5 billion worldwide, mobile UX is an essential part of product development. One major weakness companies currently face is the inability to identify and solve user pain points. This article will specifically outline how to define user pain points during product discovery, so you can build a mobile app which resonates with your users.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Every decision made during product development should revolve around your users’ needs and motivations. Once you have identified the audience segment (who you want to target), you need to identify their pain points. It’s important to remember when developing a product or service to tailor it to meet the needs of a particular set of users, rather than a generic group.

The Value of Audience Segmentation

Mobile app user segmentation is the process of grouping users together based on mutual motivators and allows you to target users more effectively. Each user has a unique set of needs and motivators, but can be grouped by common identifiers. By uncovering and analyzing geographic, demographic, behavioral, and psychographic data, you will gain a well-rounded understanding of what your target users are trying to accomplish by using your product.


Over time, user segmentation will help you expand your app to address additional pain points. Once your users trust your product as a practical solution to one of their problems, they will return to your brand for future pain points.


User segmentation also serves an essential marketing function. Understanding your users’ pain points gives marketers the right information they need to prepare messaging based on that need. The segmentation process sets your product up for great acquisition and retention rates by providing marketers the appropriate data to target and retarget the right users.

Exploratory Research

Once you’ve determined your audience segment, you need to examine those users in greater detail. Do you understand why your customers will buy your product or service?


Users are often searching for a solution that will solve a pain they’re experiencing in their life, whether that’s a flawed mobile checkout or an inconvenient personal banking experience. Pain points motivate users to find a solution that will solve this pain. Identifying your customers’ pain points is the most important step during product discovery. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money building a product that no one wants or needs.


Establishing a seamless UX begins with a solid foundation of research and strategy. First, source information that will help you better understand your users’ needs and their overall goals for using your product before asking them directly. In many cases, users’ can’t articulate their needs or may be unaware of them altogether. Your research will help identify pain points and frustrations the user is currently experiencing or will experience in the future.


The following techniques provide many added benefits that will establish user-centric app development.

1. Ask the Experts

It’s important to begin your research by asking business experts and analysts for their insight. To understand your users’ true needs, you need to learn what has been done and what hasn’t worked in the past. 

2. Examine Products That Already Exist

Many products, if not all, have areas for improvement. Look up reviews, feedback, forums and any information that can help you address key issues for your set of users. Analyze where your competition is going with their products and find solutions they don’t offer. For example, as mobile devices get larger, the user-centered mobile design must adjust to being physio-friendly. Look at other products for fundamental issues like lack of customer service options, navigation or quality problems.


Recommended – Finding Opportunity in the App Market: Competitor Research

3. Go Directly to the Source

Some common research methods include surveys, interviews, and focus groups. In a report by Google, 52% of users said a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with the company. Research your users’ attitudes before development to ensure that you build a product that is different from what your competition offers, addressing real pain points that exist in the market.  

Tips for User Interviews

User interviews are time-consuming and call for a lot of preparation and planning. To get the most out of user interviews and identify valid pain points follow these best practices.


a. Don’t ask questions that influence answers.


When you start your interview, chances are you already have an idea about the types of responses you’ll receive; however, don’t try to get the answers you expect. Make sure you don’t let your intuition skew your research. You’re after impartial and unbiased answers.


b. Prompt real-world examples.


You will receive more in-depth and accurate responses when you prompt your users to recall specific moments from the past. For example:


Don’t ask: What goes through your mind when you can’t register for an app?


Ask: Tell me what happened in your mind the last time you tried to register for an app, but the registration field failed.


c. Ask open-ended questions.


Give your interview participants the chance to elaborate on their answers. Avoid binary, close-ended questions.

Defining Your User

Revealing user behaviors and attitudes will prove to be of great benefit because you’ll be able to understand where they’re bouncing off during the customer journey. Here are a few techniques we use to get into the minds of our users:

1. User Personas

Creating user personas well help reveal truths and validate assumptions to identify underlying pain points. Personas are user profiles that outline the demographic, user behaviors, as well as user needs and goals. Essentially, personas help your product team get a 360 degree understanding of the who and why of what they’re building.


A good starting point when creating your user persona is asking a series of key questions:


  • What does a day in the life of your user look like?
  • What core problem does your product or service address?
  • What does your user need, expect, and desire?
  • Where are the user’s pain points during the user experience?

2. Customer Journey Mapping

Many companies don’t adequately track the customer journey which is essential to adapt to changing customer behaviors. During product discovery, implement a user-centric strategy to ensure your user experience is as smooth as possible. In turn, you will transform customers into loyal brand followers.


A customer journey map helps to illustrate the customer experience from the user’s perspective, helping you to understand exactly how customers are interacting with your brand and highlight areas for improvement. Despite the type of experience you want to map, every association throughout a customer’s journey contributes to how they perceive the brand, which ultimately drives customer loyalty. Focus on what angers users or turns them away from the brand. These are the areas of the customer journey map that need to be improved.


Both user personas and customer journey maps are useful techniques to use to understand who you are building your product for, from realizing their demographic to desires, pain points, expectations, and much more.

User Validation

It’s now time to validate all the assumptions you’ve made by researching how your target audience behaves when using your product. Only the end-user can genuinely identify what their pain points are. After you have successfully created a user persona and mapped out the customer journey, you need to validate these assumptions. User expectations and demands are constantly shifting, which is why a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is an excellent strategy to improve your product iteratively.


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User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

Most validation tests involve either an MVP, prototype, or mock-up by putting it through an alpha or beta user test. The user will then provide feedback during this iterative process in which problems or kinks can be ironed out early on during the development phase. This will give you a good understanding of user pain points directly from the source itself.


The core objectives for UAT are the following

  1. Make sure all the preconcerted product requirements align with business objectives.
  2. Identify any last-minute bugs or mistakes that could have occurred in development.
  3. Verify the product for release.


Since every target audience has distinct needs, companies must consider key product factors such as usefulness, usability, desirability, and credibility to suit that particular set of users. What is useful to one group of users, may not be to another. These factors will be different for each set of users. Whether your users can articulate their pain points or not, they need to be solved if the product is going to hold a spot in the market.

It’s All About User Experience

Consumers today not only expect UX design but need it to be satisfied. Consumers don’t want to jump from product to product, but instead find a brand that is designed to please them, which is why brands with exceptional UX win repeat visits, and eventually, new customers. This has allowed Amazon, Google, and Apple to grow into the tech giants that they are today. Because of this, companies are recognizing the need to keep up with changing user expectations to solve pressing UX issues. Otherwise, they won’t survive in the mobile app environment where experiences are more optimal and personal than ever before.

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Annie Dossey

Digital Marketing Manager