Value Opportunity Analysis

A Value Opportunity Analysis (VOA) is an evaluative method that creates a measurable way to predict the success or failure of a product by focusing on the user’s point of view. The maps created by a VOA guide stakeholders to be able to produce a product which aligns to user’s idealized lifestyle. (Cagan) In this method it is important to research what is currently on the market, collect data, test, and modify a product to secure success.

The Value Opportunity Analysis (VOA) can happen at two stages throughout the design process. VOA is typically used in the concept generation stage when prototyping is still low fidelity or even on paper. It is also used at the launch stage, tested for quality assurance to determine market readiness.  An example could be testing a current design prior to investing on a redesign. Often, it may be necessary to focus energy on a new design if the current model is successfully meeting the needs of the user. (Bennett)

A VOA traditionally has seven values used to measure opportunities.(Hanington) Each category contains subcategories which help determine the level it connects to the audience. The list below is the value-based criteria of the traditionally used in VOA.

  1. Emotion: Adventure, Independence, Security, Sensuality, Confidence, Power

  2. Aesthetics: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, Olfactory, Taste

  3. Identity: Point in time, Sense of place, Personality

  4. Impact: Social, Environmental

  5. Ergonomics: Comfort, Safety, Ease of use

  6. Core Technology: Reliable, Enabling

  7. Quality: Craftsmanship, Durability

These seven attributes help the developer to consider multiple angles using other evaluative methodologies. A Competitive Review is used to measure how valuable a competitor's product is next to the one being developed. A Market Analysis assesses similar successful and failing productions within the market to learn from them, gather recommendations, and mindfully guide future steps for a product. Multiple Personas identify users needs from a range of viewpoints. VOA processes often create valuable opportunity to discuss the product, which makes it crucial that stakeholders and designers are open-minded and truly empathize with the user’s values and desires for the product.

There are two steps for conducting a VOA. First, list each value opportunity and its attributes in a column. Next, rate each on a subjective level of low, medium, and high. If values do not apply, indicate low. No indication represents failure.

Based on the results, designers would have feedback and questions they may use to determine market readiness. Examples of these questions could be:

  • Does the product meet the need of the user visually?
  • Does the product meet the need of the user socially?
  • Does the product meet the need of the user’s environmental values?
  • Where are opportunities to increase the environmental aspects of the product to better align with the values of the users?
  • Does the product meet the need of the users tacitly?
  • Does the profit impact match stakeholders requirements?
  • How does the brand impact better align with the goals of the stakeholder?

Depending on your perspective, there are a couple foreseeable issues with VOA that could happen while conducting this method.  Stakeholders could disagree with the results and dismiss them. Designers could also ignore the opportunities. If the graph leaves out certain categories, the results won’t be accurate. Also, a lot of research needs to happen in the market before anything else happens. If the research is not thorough, there is a risk of competitors having similar products with better designs, or failed products that could share insight to future impediments that may occur. This methodology doesn’t have a lot of limitations since it is often paired with further research and other methodologies as explained earlier.

In summary, the Value Opportunity Analysis (VOA) can be a quick and insightful methodology to use to determine the user’s perspective. Seven fundamental aspects are used to complete a VAO. They are emotion, ergonomics, aesthetics, identity, impact, core technology, and quality. This method is most valuable when stakeholders and designers empathize with a user’s values and needs in a product. It is most insightful when the market is thoroughly researched, the competitor’s products or current product are considered and evaluated to test if the investment is worthwhile.  

“Supposing is good. Finding out is better.”
        — Mark Twain

Works Cited

Bennett, Travis. "Market Opportunity Analysis: Find What Customers Really Want." Web logpost. UDemyBlog. N.p., 13 May 2014. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.<>.

Cagan, J., C.M. Vogel, B. Nussbaum (2001) Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval, FT Press. 2002.

Hanington, Bruce; Martin, Bella (2012-02-01). Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions (Kindle Locations 5216-5218). Creative Publishing International. Kindle Edition.

Edited: 2/23/16

A formal narrated pecha kucha is now posted to YouTube. Check it out!


Week 03: Establishing Requirements

Our course assigned textbook Interaction Design discusses in depth the details of requirements, date gathering techniques, task analysis, and how to get a simple description from our research.

At my current job, user tested feedback is reported after modifications to our system. Primarily, research processes have come in a handful of the formats discussed in chapter 10: questionnaires, and interviews. We have three predominant persona's that represent our primary target audience, as well as two secondary, less active users.

I found this chapter very interesting as it presented the value of creating detail persona's for the overall design process and generating terms for the requirements. Building a "relationship" with these persona's, down to associating a photograph with a hypothetical name, the benefits create an authentic perspective in problem solving — or establishing requirements— for both the stakeholders and the designers.

Week 02: Design Practice

At work, we have quarterly Design: Labs for all the designers across the company to contribute idea, meet cool people, and learn something, and ultimately gain inspiration as a take-away. This week we were able to watch this video on the benefit of healthy perspective on failure.

In the early stages of my grad certification, I think this is going to be extremely vital to my studies. I really enjoyed the first lesson Kowitz presents, that we don't call "piano practice" "piano fail". It is practice for a reason. If a product is released before thorough testing, expect backlash.

Coffee in the Cockpit

While watching the video of Donald Norman's history lesson, I decided to read through the chapter to which he continually refers. Coffee Cups in the Cockpit, as mentioned in the video, argues how man conforms to technology if treated properly. This reminded me of a podcast and article produced by 99% Invisible, which addresses Automation Paradox. I belief in the efficiency of good design, but it is vital to ensure the necessity of education. Design should not simply create a shortcut, but enhance the authenticity of knowledge and implement direction to desired end product.

The concluding chapter, Norman wrote:

Complex systems involve a mixture of automatic and human control. Alas, there is too much tendency to let the automatic controls do whatever activities they are capable of performing, giving the leftovers to people. This is poor system design. It does not take into account the proper mix of activities, and it completely ignores the needs and talents of people. The price we pay for such disregard for the total system performance comes when things go wrong, when unexpected conditions arise or the machinery breaks down. The total reliability and safety of our systems could be improved if only we understood and treated people with the same respect and dignity that we give to electronic signals and to machines.

"This is poor system design."

In 1988, Norman had a full supportive article explaining these concerns and yet 11 years later, 216 people lost their lives aboard Air France 447 to the fact that a system failed due to poor design. We must calculate ideas extensively and take precaution that it is truly good.

Week 01: Hello There

  • Quick Weekly Status Update:
    • I would love to share my journey as I explore the challenges of grad school and living my life as normally as possible. Here, I plan to make weekly entries with brief details on assignments and group projects in relation to articles, research, and elements of design.
    • Background: My parents always preached "No one can ever take your education away from you." As a child, I never embraced the depth the words carried. Now, as I'm nearing the end of my 20's, I've experienced enough to know they were right. Statistics say that due to the pressure of family and the struggle of a healthy work-life balance, us ladies cap our salaries at about 35 years old. To me that means that statisticians think once my toddler is in junior high, I'm holding a job at the same level until I retire = not really learning a whole lot. So I decided to do something about it. And IUPUI agreed to let me work on my graduate certificate in HCI, a passion of mine since I learned of parallax coding in HTML/CSS a handful of years ago.
    • Looking forward to getting into a routine, with lots of coffee, and having smoother sailing as I navigate online education.