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CIRCLES method

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What Is The CIRCLES method

The CIRCLES method is a framework for solving problems that helps product managers respond thoughtfully and thoroughly to design-related questions.

The CIRCLES method’s sequential structure makes it easy for product managers to work through essential questions. It acts as a checklist for the right questions to ask when creating an organized and exhaustive response to a design inquiry. 

The 7 steps of the CIRCLES method

Each letter of the CIRCLES acronym stands for a step in the process. Those steps are: 

  1. Comprehend the situation: In the first step you need to ask questions to better understand the situation. Questions can include, “Who is the product’s audience?” or “What problem is it solving?”

  2. Identify the customer: Next, you need to learn more about the customer you need to reach. This includes identifying their income level, demographics, goals, and challenges.

  3. Report customer’s needs: Then, you need to identify what problems your customers want to solve with your product and what series of actions they need to do to reach this solution.

  4. Cut through prioritization: This step ranks your users’ needs from your product roadmap.

  5. List solutions: After writing all your user stories, find the features you can add to your product that will help solve user needs.

  6. Evaluate tradeoffs: Think about each solution’s benefits and possible disadvantages.

  7. Summarize recommendation: Summarize everything you discussed but focus on which features are best for the product from your point of view, how you would prioritize them over the others, and how they solve the user’s needs.

abstract/prioritize emoji

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Benefits of using the CIRCLES method

There are many benefits when using the CIRCLES method, including: 

  • The CIRCLES method helps product managers prioritize execution, user feedback etc.

  • It encourages product managers to remain open-minded while they work through the framework’s steps instead of directly jumping to a solution or conclusion.

  • It focuses on the users by clarifying whom the product managers are building the feature or product for and why.

  • It allows the product managers to gather enough information during the critical first step before rushing to a conclusion.

General FAQ

What is the CIRCLES method?
The CIRCLES method helps product managers answer design-related questions. CIRCLES is an acronym, and every letter represents the first word of each step.

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