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What are pain points in design?



Pain points are user discomforts experienced by the user while using a particular product. They exist in diverse forms and could be severe or slightly insignificant. To identify pain points is to gain a step toward solving users’ problems.

There are levels to user pain points. We can divide them into three categories: the interaction level, the customer journey level, and the relationship level. All these levels are observed in the user’s interaction with the product.

The categorization of user pain points

The difference between pain points and usability issues

User pain points are captured during usability testing and when users interact with a product. In contrast, usability could be focused on the product’s functionality. The user pain point is holistic since it doesn't consist solely of usability problems. It deals with more user problems identified during use. It is also concerned with the relationship between the user and the product’s organization.

Categories of pain points

  1. Interaction level pain point: This has to do with user pain points identified during usability tests. This pain point should be addressed based on its effects on the user and its nature or time of occurrence on the user. There are various kinds of interaction level pain points:

    • Financial: This is when a user gets interrupted by payment links and unwanted subscription alerts obstructing the use of a product.

    • Product: This is a pain point concerned with the quality of the product when a product is of low quality or gives less than what is expected.

    • Process: This is when a user encounters navigation problems in the use of a product and can move from point A to point B. An example of this could be frustration encountered in placing an order on an e-commerce platform.

    • Support: This is when a product does not support feedback. The user cannot ask questions and get responses when they run into confusion.

  2. Journey level pain point: This level of pain point is discovered when a user has used the product for a while. We can analyze it through user interviews, field studies, and user-journey mapping. This pain point can be checked through organizational restructuring or adjusting the organization’s internal process.

  3. Relationship level pain point: Relationship-level pain points can be discovered after a long period. This pain point examines users’ satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the product. We can use this paint point to determine how many users have discontinued using the product. It acts as a brand loyalty check. Additionally, we can use it to answer questions like how many users refer their friends to use this product or how many users subscribe to monthly usage?


Pain point discoveries lead to design changes, upgrades, and renovations. They can be cost-intensive but are necessary for user satisfaction and to maintain a satisfactory relationship between the user and the product organizations.



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