Defining a Problem – Root Cause Analysis


Customer Focus and UX: Introduction and Project (Online)
Introduction to UX
User Psychology

Successful UX design is often about deploying new solutions to solve problems.  You need to know what the problem is to design a solution to solve it.

The key to problem analysis:

  • Define the problem
  • Gather evidence
  • Predict impacts
  • Identify causes
  • Make recommendations

When the causes of problems are properly stated, your recommended solutions are simply the reverse of the causes.

One major challenge is to find the root cause of the problem and not focus on the symptoms of a problem. 

For example, if pictures on a website are loading very slowly, a solution could be removing the pictures, but it doesn’t solve the problem. The root cause could be the file size loaded on the website or the type of server. Your task will be to identify the root cause and then suggest a solution that will prevent any image to load slowly in future.

Defining a problem as a data analyst

There are different methods to identify a root cause of a problem and we will have a closer look at 3 popular ones. Read the articles on the links below:

  1. How to Conduct Root Cause Analysis Using Pareto Charts | Start Now |
  2. Root Cause Analysis: How to Use the 5 Whys Method | Start Now |
  3. Root Cause Analysis: How to Use a Fishbone Diagram | Start Now |


Create your own Pareto Chart using Microsoft Excel:

  1. Create a list of complaints and their count in Excel and select the data (Figure 1).
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Charts group, click the Histogram symbol. (Figure 2).
  3. Your Pareto chart will be shown. (Figure 3).
  4. Be sure to save your work for your portfolio of evidence.

 Decorative image: An example list of complaints in Excel

Figure 1: Restaurant Complaints Raw Data

Decorative image: A screenshot of the Excel toolbar, showing the Insert tab, with mouse hovering over the Charts group

Decorative image: A screenshot of Excel Charts group, with mouse hovering over the Pareto option in the histogram group

Figure 2: Create a Pareto Chart in Excel

Decorative image: An example Pareto chart

Figure 3: Pareto Chart Output

The outcome is that the orange Pareto line shows that (789 + 621) / 1722 ≈ 80% of the complaints come from 2 out of 10 = 20% of the complaint types (Overpriced and Small portions). In other words: the Pareto principle applies.  The Pareto chart has given us an insight into the root cause of the complaints.


Welcome to your learning path on Customer Focus and UX (user experience).  Here you’ll discover why UX (user experience) is so important to the success of your projects, products and services and how focusing on the customer can help you achieve great user experiences.

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