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UX Happiness Insights: The Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework

Humans are purposeful goal-directed creatures – and we are happy when we achieve our goals.  We get a flush of positive emotion when we get to the top of the mountain – metaphorical or real. It may be biology’s way of motivating achievement.

A recent study of 5,693 Americans has confirmed a positive link between goal completion and happiness (measured in terms of subjective well-being). Whilst there are wrinkles ( ‘goal setting’, ‘goal striving’ and ‘goal revision’ are all important too), the commonsense idea that we are happier when we achieve our goals, and unhappy, frustrated or disappointed when we don’t is borne out by the evidence.

if outcome = aim, then happiness

Which is why UX+ and CX+ (positive UX and positive CX) should be focused on helping people achieve their goals. It sounds obvious, but often we can be too focused on ‘journeys’, ‘touch points’ or just vanilla usability, rather than helping people do want they want to do.

One practical tool to help positive UX/CX designers focus on people’s goals is the influential jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework, developed by Clay Christensen, Stratygn and others.

The idea behind the jobs-to-be-done framework is simple – people ‘hire’ products, services and tools to do a job, that is, achieve a goal. Positive CX/UX is about designing around these jobs (outcomes or goals) rather than focusing on ‘processes’, or ‘journeys’ or even ‘needs’.  A job is tangible, and the value of what we sell is the degree to which we help people accomplish their goals, i.e. do the job to be done efficiently (minimising time, effort, risk and cost).

Now jobs come in many flavours (functional, emotional, social…), and a quick Google search will reveal a bunch of tools available to help you map JTBD in order to reframe design challenges around humans rather than processes. But one simple tool can be insightful – and that is job-laddering. Job-laddering simply involves asking people to prioritise what they want to achieve when the ‘hire’ you, and then ‘laddering up’ the achievement ladder by asking them what bigger job this will help them achieve.

I want to [immediate JTBD], so that [bigger JTBD]

This takes you beyond the usual suspects and creates a stepping stone from jobs to be done to happiness.

At the very least, the JTBD framework can help us humanise digital design, by allowing us to focus on helping people achieve their goals, rather than simply signpost them through a flowchart ‘journey’.


Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
Join the discussion

  • Great piece. Understanding the objective or desired outcome of interactions is what businesses need to be focused on when engaging with consumers and small businesses. THank you for sharing this insight.

  • Great piece. When companies connect with customers and other small businesses, they should center their attention on gaining an understanding of the goals or outcomes they hope to achieve from such relationships. I am grateful that you shared this valuable perspective.

  • Enterprises should concentrate on understanding the goal or desired result of interactions while working with consumers and small enterprises. I appreciate you giving this knowledge.

Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.