6 min read

User Needs: An Easy, Effective Exercise To Get You Started

Sometimes it is the little things that make the difference. Here is an excercise I've had great results with as long as I've worked with user needs.
User Needs: An Easy, Effective Exercise To Get You Started

My name is Lars K Jensen, and I work with journalism, data and editorial insights as head of the Audience team at Berlingske Media in Denmark. 

Feel free to connect on LinkedIn and say hi.


Recently, I've been talking and writing about our work with user needs in Berlingske Media – in particular my work with Berlingske, the 275 year old newspaper we are named after.

If you are an INMA member, there's a webinar you can watch, where I speak about user needs – together with Roy Wassink from DPG Media, who own Berlingske Media (yeah, small world 😉).

Some of the points from my presentation in the webinar even made it into the INMA report on newsroom transformation.

I have also written more in-depth about our work with implementing user needs earlier in this newsletter.

In this post, I don't want to talk about strategy or newsroom implementation – although, in a sense I do want to. Because I would like to share with you a really simple exercise I have been doing since I started working with user needs more than three years ago.

I have done it with small publishers, larger newspapers, local publishers and other kinds of organisations as well. And I believe it has helped with both communicating user needs as an approach and with the actual implementation.

When I'm doing a presentation I talk about the exercise when I get to this slide:

Now, if you don't understand Danish, obviously a little translation is needed here. Basically, this is our translation of the user needs from the Wall Street Journal model:

  • Opdatér mig: Update me
  • Hjælp mig med at forstå: Help me understand
  • Giv mig en fordel: Give me an edge (literally translates into "Give me an advantage")
  • Forbind mig: Connect me (for us this is about people and connecting our audiences with them)
  • Inspirér mig: Inspire me
  • Underhold mig: Entertain me

And yes, I print out little cards or notes and hand out to the workshop participants – even though a lot of things are digital these days, tactileness still has a lot going for it in situations like this.

For the first iterations, I just told people a URL they had to go to with their phones (or showed them a QR code) and had built a simple web page where they could swipe through the different user needs. But I find the paper version works better.

Let's dive into it.

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