September 19, 2021
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How to prioritize features based on user needs?

There are two factors that we should pay attention to when developing the product. How important the need for the features is to the user and how satisfied they are with the existing solutions out there. According to Dan Olsen in his book “The lean product playbook”, the hierarchy of web user needs from the most important to the least important are as follows:

  1. Uptime
  2. Page load time
  3. Absence of bugs
  4. Feature set
  5. UX design

The first three must be satisfied when the user interacts with the product. Number four and five increase satisfaction for the users. This clearly states that we should prioritize uptime over page load time and page load time over the absence of bugs.

In short:

Uptime > Page load time > Absence of bugs > Feature set > UX design

How do we prioritize features for your next release?

We should be spending time on building the features that are important to the users and either there are no existing solutions for them or users are not happy with the existing solutions. We should not even bother with features that are not important to the users. As simple as it sounds most companies fail in doing this. That’s where user interviews are important. They tell us what the users care the most about.

Dan Olsen’s importance versus satisfaction quadrants

How to measure Importance and Satisfaction?

We far, we’ve talked about the two qualities of Importance and Satisfaction. In short, when you interview your customers, ask them when you are using our service, how important it is that it does *YOUR FEATURE HERE* for you?


How important it is that when you use our product, it does YOUR SERVICE HERE for you?

  1. Not important at all
  2. Somewhat important
  3. Moderatly important
  4. Very important
  5. Extremely important


How satisfied are you with existing solutions that deliver YOUR SERVICE HERE?

  1. Extremely dissatisfied
  2. very dissatisfied
  3. Somewhat dissatisfied
  4. Indifferent
  5. Somewhat satisfied
  6. Very satisfied
  7. Extremely satisfied

Next, we plot the results for each user

All we need is a simple table with the list of users interviewed and a scatter chart in excel.

Importance vs Satisfaction table – Feature X

User’s name User ID Satisfaction [1-7] Importance [1-5]
John Doe ID6473856 5 4
Tom Johnson ID6473857 4 3
Name here UID Satisfaction Importance

The idea here is simple. All we need to do is identify the features that occupy the top-left of the Satisfaction-importance quadrant of your chart. Those features are the ones that will deliver the most value to the customer without much competition.

The whole picture is more complicated than what we discussed here. We need to look into what competitors have to offer as well. If competitors are offering features that are important, you’ll have no choice but to offer them.

Feature listCompetitor ACompetitor BYour product
Feature AYYY
Feature BYYY
Feature CYYY
Performance Feature DHighLowMedium
Performance Feature EMediumHighLow
Delight Feature FYNN
Delight Feature GYNY
Competitor analysis of the features – According to Dan Olsen’s Lean Product Playbook

Features A, B, and C are Must-Haves because both of your competitors have them and according to your user research it’s something that your users need. You discover that fact from your user interviews.

In this post, we talk more about feature prioritization considering the resources needed for the development work.