Skip main navigation

Mini-Project Assignment Handout

Mini-Project Assignment Handout

Throughout this course, you will be practicing skills within the context of a small user needs assessment project of your choice. For this assignment you will provide a description of the project and include the names of at least two interview candidates who are willing to be interviewed and observed.

Product or Service

For the purposes of this course, a good project will be about an existing product or service to which you and your interview participants have ready access. The product or service should be one that…

  • You and your interview participants have ready access to;

  • Likely involves some problems or challenges during usage;

  • You are not yourself especially familiar with.

Products or services that might be appropriate include websites, apps, toys, tools, online services, in-person services, and so on. Examples include Amazon’s website, WhatsApp, a Rubik’s cube, a lawn mower, your local Department of Motor Vehicles website, the line at the local post office, etc.


You will need to choose an appropriate scope for your project. Scoping is not easy to get right, but think of it in terms of something that you would be able to investigate to some depth in hour-long interviews with two different people. As noted in the videos, you are not likely to be able to do a meaningful user needs assessment of Amazon’s entire website with just two interviews. At the other end, Amazon’s one-click check-out would probably not be meaningful to spend an hour on. However, a couple of interviews would be enough to understand some things about the basic check-out process when purchasing items from Amazon.

If you have doubts about your scope, you may want to post your idea below in the comments to receive feedback from your peers.

Description and Question

Your project description should about one or two paragraphs in length. It should provide basic background into the overall product or service, as well as the specific aspect that you will focus on for your user needs assessment. For this assignment, you should think of something that may cause its users some degree of difficulty. You should also phrase the focus of your study in terms of a question such as, “What causes trouble for users of Amazon’s basic check-out process?” The project description does not need to be long, but it should provide a basic description of the product or service (for people who may not be familiar with it) along with a good sense for the scope of the issue you are investigating. You will also be asked in a separate prompt to indicate what type of difficulty you suspect users may have with the product or service.

Interview Participants

Part of this assignment requires you to line up at least two interview participants. They should each be…

  • Current (or recent) users of the product or service that your user needs assessment will be about.

  • Willing to be individually available for an interview and observation session that lasts between 60-120 minutes sometime over the next couple of weeks (while you are taking the course).

  • Someone you are not too familiar with. In particular, avoid family members or good friends, as the experience of interviewing relative strangers is one that you should have.

  • In the prompts for this assignment, you will be asked to list these two people, their relationship to you, and to attest that they have agreed to an interview with you.

If you can line up more than two interview participants, that’s terrific! It will give you more opportunity to practice.

The goal of this peer- reviewed assignment is to get feedback from your peers. You will also be providing feedback to your peers

As you provide the Feedback please provide that in percentage marks

This article is from the free online

Understanding User Needs

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now