Needs, Wants, Desires

Needs, Wants, Desires is a Card Sorting exercise to help figure out priorities and to identify the most crucial features to include in your solution. It’s best to use when there are a lot of feature ideas being thrown around when there isn’t a good sense of which is the most important.


  • Estimated time needed: up to 30 minutes
  • Team: Facilitator, Note-taker, Stakeholders

Why should we do this exercise?

It is often easy to get caught up in fun or cool add-ons to product ideas. But when developing a product on a budget it is important to really focus in on the exact problem you are trying to solve and the essential features required to solve it. This helps teams preserve resources and prevents the team wasting time, energy and money developing frills rather than a great core product.


  1. The Facilitator starts by very roughly drawing the product flow in a digital art board or Miro board.
  2. Next the team reads back over the problem statement to have the specific problem clear in their mind.
  3. The team then lists out all feature ideas on sticky notes and adds them to the board.
  4. Analyse the first feature suggestion as a group. Add it to Needs (at the top of the board) if it is critical to the job to be done, Wants (in the middle of the board) if it is supplemental to the main job to be done, Desires (at the bottom of the board) if it outside of the main job to be done. It is best to reflect on the Problem Statement continuously while doing this.
  5. Repeat for each of the remaining ideas.

Once all of the features are sorted, look at each section and the features in them and verify that each feature in is the appropriate section.


Continuously look back over the problem statement and read it aloud throughout the exercise. This helps the group to focus on the core problem and to ruthlessly segment features.


Different groups of sticky-notes organized around priority