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.
Emotion: Adventure, Independence, Security, Sensuality, Confidence, Power
Aesthetics: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, Olfactory, Taste
Identity: Point in time, Sense of place, Personality
Impact: Social, Environmental
Ergonomics: Comfort, Safety, Ease of use
Core Technology: Reliable, Enabling
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
Bennett, Travis. "Market Opportunity Analysis: Find What Customers Really Want." Web logpost. UDemyBlog. N.p., 13 May 2014. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.<https://blog.udemy.com/market-opportunity-analysis/>.
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.