Planning, Conducting, and Analyzing User Research

We began with tips for planning your research, including setting research objectives, choosing the right research methods, and recruiting participants. Then we got into conducting research: the set-up, facilitating the sessions, and guiding participants appropriately to ensure you’re getting the insights you need. Finally, we showed you how to capture and analyze your findings so that your research can be easily understood and used by the rest of the project team. There were many questions from the attendees, some of which we didn’t get to. Further down in this post we have tried to answer some of them.

Download this 2 page checklist we’ve created to help guide you through your user research.

Research Checklist Download Full Checklist (PDF)

Here is a selection of some great questions that attendees asked that we didn’t get to during the broadcast.

How many days is recommended for the research step?

Different research methods typically require different amounts of time to conduct – could be one afternoon, a day or a couple of days for world café, focus groups and usability testing, or a week or several weeks for surveys and online discussions.

Remember that conducting the research is just one part of the process. Planning and organizing takes time, recruiting takes time, analysis takes time and so too does reporting your findings. Sifting through video to select highlight clips can take a surprising amount of time.

Your research objectives will also impact the duration. Tactical objectives like “identify usability barriers in the check-out process” may take less time to address than more strategic objectives like ”identify opportunities to improve the accounts payables process”.

And since we don’t have unlimited time and money, budget is also a constraint on your research duration.

What are some good ways to get other stakeholders involved (e.g. Project Managers)?

Ideally, all the project stakeholders (PM, designers, developers, managers, directors) would be involved in determining the objectives, approving the method and logistics, observing (or sometimes facilitating or note taking), high-level analysis, and decision-making regarding the recommendations. Involving stakeholders throughout the process leads them to be personally invested in the outcomes and helps ensure that your findings and recommendations are embraced. Here’s a couple of quick tips:

 – Workshop the objectives together with the whole team.

 – Get objectives and participant profiles approved before proceeding.

 – Use a shared workspace like Basecamp so the whole team can see the research plan as it evolves.

 – Debrief with the team immediately after the research to establish a shared understanding

Sometimes, despite your best efforts (see question 2 above), your research findings can hit an impasse. A key decision maker may overrule your recommendations based on nothing more than their own personal opinion. It happens. We typically take a 3-strikes approach in these situations. We will try 3 times to show why we feel a recommendation is important, and if we are still unable to convince the decision maker, we note our position and then move on to those issues that we can affect.

You can view the entire webinar below, including the Q&A session, or head over to SlideShare to view the slides.

Even though this series is over, for now, we’ve got some more workshops and webinars lined up in the coming months on topics such as UX design, web accessibility, and service design.

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