March 15, 2023

Prioritise features with T.R.A.P

During an ongoing economic crisis, start-ups and large companies are under immense pressure to make strategic decisions about product design and development. With limited resources, it is crucial to prioritize effectively, determining what should be done first, what should be done later, and what should be avoided altogether.

Outdated frameworks like RICE or development team costing no longer cut it in today’s economic climate, where capital is scarce and choosing the right goals is essential. That’s where our four-step TRAP framework comes in, providing a customer-centric approach to help companies make the right changes to their products, creating experiences that users will love, use constantly, and recommend to others.

Test. Step 1 involves assessing user jobs (JTBD) based on frequency, importance, and frustration. Through qualitative and quantitative analysis, companies can gain a deep understanding of their users’ needs and prioritize accordingly.

Rank. Step 2 entails segmenting the identified jobs into under-served, over-served, and served-right categories. This process helps to determine which areas need the most attention and which ones are already adequately addressed.

Aggregation. In Step 3, the selected jobs are matched with the product backlog, and all the associated features are categorized into critical, hygiene, and hero features. This categorization ensures that the product contains features from all categories, providing a comprehensive solution that meets users’ needs.

Prioritize. Finally, in Step 4, resources are allocated to develop all the features in the product backlog. By selecting the lowest-cost features and ensuring that there are features in each category, companies can achieve the best possible outcome for their product within their resource constraints.

Before implementing the TRAP framework, it is important to gather the necessary data about the product and its target audience. At a minimum, eight in-depth interviews (Jobs to be Done) are required for each audience segment, focusing on user needs and reasons for switching from one product to another. For those unfamiliar with these concepts, we recommend reading the books by Alan Klement and Anthony W. Ulwick to gain a better understanding of the methodology. It is also important to understand the competitive landscape, including knowledge about competitors’ value propositions, target audiences and segments, market share, and feature sets.


To implement the first step of the TRAP framework it is essential to collect target audience’s jobs to be done. This involves identifying the situations, motivations, and expected outcomes of each job.

Now let’s evaluate each job according to the following parameters:

  1. Frequency. Determine how frequently each job occurs. Answer the question: does the job occur relatively frequently? (1 = infrequently, 5 = always).
  2. Importance. Next understand the importance of the problem – how much the problem annoys user, whether users are ready to pay for its solution: is the job important to the customer? (1 = not important, 5 = of utmost importance).
  3. Emotionality. Lastly, assess how emotional the customer is with the inability to solve the problem with existing solutions: is the user gets emotional by inability to get the job done with today’s solutions (1 = not emotional, 5 = extremely emotional).
infrequentlyoccasionallyusuallyvery frequentlyalways
not importanta little importantimportantvery importantof utmost importance
not emotionala little emotionalemotionalvery emotionalextremely emotional
Use the Likert scale to do the evaluation.

This data can be collected through qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews and surveys, as well as through quantitative methods such as desk study.

Jobs (JTBD)FrequencyImportanceEmotionality
Job 1
Job 2
Job 3
Write down all the jobs in the table, and then calculate the median value of each parameter.


Now let’s introduce the concept of customer serviceability by categorizing jobs as under-served, over-served, or served right.

Under-served. The jobs that fall under the under-served category are the ones that hold the highest priority. These are the jobs that customers consider important but are not satisfied with the current tools available in the market. These jobs represent an opportunity for businesses to create innovative solutions that meet the unmet needs of their customers. By focusing on these jobs, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and create a loyal customer base.

Over-served jobs are those where customers are satisfied with the availability of tools in the market. These customers have a lot of options to choose from, and companies can only differentiate themselves by offering lower prices or by providing a unique value proposition.

Served right. Finally, the jobs that fall under the served right category are those where the customer’s satisfaction is proportional to the level of importance they give to the job. These jobs do not require any significant investment, but companies need to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their customers and providing a satisfactory experience.

To plot the graph, we need to consider the importance of the job on the X-axis and the data obtained by multiplying the frequency of the job by the frustration level of the customers on the Y-axis. By doing so, we can identify the jobs that require immediate attention and prioritize them accordingly.

Jobs (JTBD)ImportanceFrequency x Emotionality
Job 1
Job 2
Job 3
Place jobs on the chart.


Once the under-served jobs have been identified, it is important to focus on developing the right features to address those needs. This involves going through the product backlog and selecting the most relevant features. If the backlog doesn’t provide enough solutions, previous audience research can be used as inspiration to brainstorm innovative ideas with the team.

Once the backlog is finalized, the next step is to prioritize the features based on their importance. This can be done by sorting all the features into three groups: critical, hygiene, and hero.

Critical features are the ones that are essential for the product to function properly. These are must-haves and cannot be compromised on. If the critical features are missing, the product won’t work as intended.

Hygiene features, on the other hand, are industry standards that the audience expects to see in the product. They are not essential for the product to operate, but their absence may negatively affect the audience’s perception of the product.

Finally, Hero features are the ones that wow the audience. These features are not essential, but they add value to the product and help it stand out from the competition.

If the goal is to attract an over-served audience, hero features are necessary. These features will create a wow factor and make the product stand out. By incorporating hero features, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and create a loyal customer base.

If all jobs fall into over-served, it means that the market is glutted with good solutions. If business is making a new product, our recommendation would be to find another niche. If it’s an existing product that is already over-served, that’s fine, then business should pay more attention to Hero feature development. However, keep in mind that Hero features are only like that after the initial launch, then competitors in the industry start copying them and Hero moves into the Hygiene features space.


The last step is to evaluate the time and effort required to develop new features. The team can begin by assessing each feature on the list and categorizing them based on the effort required – high (3), mid (2), or low (1). Once this is done, the team can proceed with a voting procedure to finalize the priority of features.

The goal is to choose features that require less effort, and this can be achieved by selecting features from all areas. This approach ensures that the development team can focus on completing the simpler tasks first, thereby freeing up resources to work on more challenging features. This prioritization method is crucial in maximizing the team’s time and effort, leading to the successful completion of the project within the allotted period.

It’s also important to note that while choosing low-effort features is a priority, this should not come at the cost of ignoring one of the areas: critical, hygiene, hero. Thus, the development team must strike a balance between all the areas and prioritizing low-effort features.

In the template above, four features identified as addressed the pain points of an under-served segment. These features are further categorized into critical, hygiene, and hero areas and require minimal development effort. It is imperative to prioritize these features and initiate their development in the first place to deliver a robust product that meets the needs of its users.

However, to keep the momentum going, it is also necessary to add features that require a mid-effort to development. This approach is particularly relevant for start-ups and new product development where the focus is right priorities. It helps in creating a product that is not only functional but also meets the expectations of the target audience.

For existing products, the focus should be on hero features that can differentiate the product from its competitors. However, it is essential to prioritize the development of low-effort features alongside the hero features. This approach ensures that the product remains relevant and up to date while addressing the pain points of its users.


In the past, when money was cheap, start-ups could afford to experiment with marketing and development, creating products that were not entirely aligned with their target audience’s needs. However, the current economic climate demands that start-ups prioritize their development resources carefully. Prioritizing features based on their development effort and potential impact on the target audience is a critical step in creating a successful product and TRAP framework helps to do it.

Our inspirations:
Alan Klement
Anthony W. Ulwick
Des Traynor

Methodology authors:
Tatiana Pridchenko & UXSSR Team

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