Loughborough University has launched a free toolkit to help entrepreneurs understand their customers’ needs – and boost their business success.

Developed in collaboration with the Forum for the Future and two large UK retail brands, the Sustainable User Experience (UX) Vision Toolkit aims to bridge the gap between the complicated nature of real customers and the limited stereotypes that some start-up businesses base their strategies on.

Inspiration for the toolkit grew out of research conducted by two academics – Dr Val Mitchell and Dr Garrath Wilson – based in the University’s Design School whilst they worked on two Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded projects.

They concluded that customers – or “users” – are “complicated and dynamic, full of invention and emotion”, but that ideas for innovative products and services are often technology-led rather than based on a clear understanding of user needs.

The Toolkit is designed to improve a new business’s understanding of their customers and the experience they want when buying and using products or services.

Commenting on the Toolkit, Dr Wilson said: “Now, more than ever, the quality of the user experience offered by businesses is increasingly a key differentiator in the marketplace, and a limited understanding of the experience that customer’s really desire can lead to market failure or poor growth.”

“We hope to achieve a radical change in how start-up businesses perceive, and sometimes treat their customers, with the end goals being a more profitable business – and a better user experience.”

The toolkit can be downloaded for free here.