User pain points

In UX, any issues that frustrate the users are called user pain points. They usually are related to something that blocks them from completing a task and reaching a goal.

Updated on April 9th, 2023

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There are two categories of pain points:

  • Direct pain point when the user can't complete a task.

  • Indirect pain point when there is a technical problem (no internet connection).

A designer aims to discover, solve, or even prevent both types of user pain points. Not being able to do so could cause more profound problems for the business. For example, users can leave for a competitor or leave bad reviews about your products.

Solving user pain points is one of the primary objectives of designers. It allows UX designers to contribute a better user experience for our users.

Pain points vs. usability issues

Pain points and usability issues can be easily misinterpreted. So let's make it more clear. In general, user pain points go beyond just one usability problem encountered by users.

User pain points could include usability problems. However, that's not always the case. On the other end, a usability issue does not contain pain points. It is the other way around. The main difference between the two is the scale on which they occur.

How to find user pain points

The best way to identify pain points is through user research. It provides insights into the user journey through your products.

For example, user interviews can result in the user mentioning the user pain points they run into. Other most common user research methods to find pain points include the following.

  • Analytics: analytics data, alongside heatmaps and other data-related deliverables, help designers identify friction points. These help designers discover where, when, and how particular pain points occur.

  • Field studies: gain first-hand experience on how people use the product. This research method allows designers to get more insights regarding context, behaviors, and the environment in which the product is used.

  • Customer support and reviews: these are great places to find pain points experienced by users.

  • Usability testing: test, test, and then test again. Designers should always test interfaces and flows to catch possible friction and pain points.

Next steps

Once you've identified several user pain points, the next step would be to solve them. However, trying to solve them all at once can feel overwhelming. In addition, it's very rare for projects to have the time and budget to tackle them all.

Instead, present your findings to your stakeholders and work together to prioritize your list of user pain points. Pick the first one and work on it. You can use the design thinking method to ideate and test your solutions.

Missing something? Contribute by making edit suggestions for this keyword.

Useful resources

Identifying user pain points - Genís Frigola

Three Levels of Pain Points in Customer Experience - NN Group

Identifying and Conquering User Pain Points in User Experience Design - Bootcamp

What Are User Pain Points? - UX Pin

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