Navigating the First Steps of UX Research: Crafting Your Research Plan

Embarking on a UX research journey is akin to setting sail on a quest for undiscovered treasures. And, as with any voyage, you need a well-thought-out plan to chart your course. In the world of user experience (UX) research, this plan is your guiding star, helping you uncover valuable insights that will shape your design decisions. In this article, we will delve into the crucial first step of UX research: planning your study.

Setting the Foundations: Project Background and Research Goals

Every journey begins with a purpose. In your research plan, the first two elements are the project background and research goals. The project background serves as your compass, answering the fundamental question of why this research is essential. It need not be an elaborate history but a concise explanation of what prompted the research. For instance, “We’re developing a new app to facilitate dog walker bookings. Our aim is to assess the user experience in finding and scheduling dog walkers.”

Research goals act as your destination points. They help you define what design problems you aim to solve and how the research results will influence your design choices. An example of a research goal could be, “Determine if the dog walker app is user-friendly, as it impacts user retention.”

Unveiling the Path: Detailed Research Questions and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Now that you’ve set your destination, it’s time to plan your route. Detailed research questions form the roadmap for your study. They clarify what specific insights you’re seeking. For instance, “How long does it take for a user to find and book a dog walker in the app?” and “What can we learn from the user flow in booking a dog walker?”

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the mile markers along your journey, measuring your progress towards your research goals. They help you gauge the success of your research. For instance, you might track the percentage of users who successfully book a dog walker.

Selecting Your Methodology and Participants

The methodology is the vessel that carries you through your research. It outlines the steps you’ll take to collect and analyze data. In our example, conducting a survey of prospective users is the chosen methodology. You’ll also need to decide how you’ll analyze the data, such as using spreadsheets to identify trends.

Your participants are your fellow travelers on this research voyage. Select them carefully, ensuring they align with your research goals. However, beware of sample bias, as exemplified by the 1936 Literary Digest presidential election prediction. Choose participants who represent the diversity of your user base, ensuring your findings aren’t skewed.

Guiding the Journey: The Script or Discussion Guide

Just as a map guides explorers through uncharted territories, your script or discussion guide directs your research participants. These are the questions you’ll ask them as they interact with your product. Craft specific questions that address your KPIs. For instance, you could inquire, “Did you encounter any challenges when trying to book a dog walker in the app?”

With these seven elements – project background, research goals, detailed research questions, KPIs, methodology, participants, and script – your research plan is complete. It serves as your compass, charting a course towards insights that will inform your UX design decisions. In the world of UX research, planning is your anchor, ensuring you navigate smoothly toward your destination.


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