The Needs Assessment section helps you understand your users needs, motivations, and behaviors — what they do, how they do it, and why. Rather than a linear process where you move predictably from one conversation or tool to another, it is more of an iterative one defined by loops. For example, what you learn from observing your users will inform what you ask them about in an interview, which may then lead you to see things differently in future observations and lead to activities within a focus group to validate your findings. So, it is a process of connecting the dots across tools and one that requires cultivating a sense of empathy for your users so you can put yourself in their shoes.
Though needs assessment is an iterative process, we can think of in terms of two kinds of activities: gathering data and working with data. The toolkit highlights a variety of tools and methods you can use to gather data, including: compiling and analyzing data on trends, usage, and satisfaction; interviews, observational studies, surveys, and focus groups. The toolkit also provides information and tools to work with and synthesize these data into user personas as well as create stories of where, when, why, and how those people will use spaces, services, and technology — use cases. Guiding principles, resources, and tips for success serve as helpful resources along the way.