This is the most basic question: What problem are you trying to solve?
Bob Lewis, InfoWorld, October 18, 1999
The question came about as users, clients, or patrons would propose highly technical solutions to problems that either had a simpler technical solution or no technical solution at all. "What problem are you trying to solve" moves the conversation to a place where all participants in the conversation can speak on an even level.
The (Big Four) Directional Questions
These are questions that can be asked when thinking about a general direction. The scope can be as wide or as narrow as needed. They're not intended to be deep or soul searching, but to make an inventory of what's available to apply to the problem identified in the Big Red Question.
- Who are you?
- What do you want?
- Why are you here?
- Where are you going?
Lifted from the many tropes on Babylon 5
The (Operational) Six Questions
Originally, the questions assumed audiences for particular websites. As the questions expanded to cover services, "customers" became interchangeable with "audiences".
- Who are your audiences? Assume at least two: intended and unintended.
- What does each audience need from you?
- What, if anything, do you need from each customer?
- Will there be restrictions on what each audience can contribute?
- Who will be the administrator(s)?
- How often will the site be reviewed for updating and organizing, and who will do it?
The Six Administrative Questions were renamed the Operational questions in October 2012.