User Research Plan
User Research

Published on December 21, 2021

User Research Plan

When launching a product or a new feature, UX research is critical, and just like any other significant activity, it requires a plan to follow in order to be successful. In this article we'll tell you all you need to know about putting together a user research plan and to getting started with your tests.

User research by itself, involves gathering information about target users and their needs in order to provide realistic contexts and insights into design processes. UX researchers apply a range of methods to uncover important facts that can be included into the design process in order to identify challenges and design opportunities. 

UX Research, according to the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF), is about discovering insights that will guide effective designs. And, in order to carry out this method efficiently and provide appropriate results, you’ll need a plan.

What is a user research plan?

A user research plan is a document that acts as a roadmap for the research that will be carried out. It specifies how the study will be conducted and what the project’s objectives will be.

Why do you need a user research plan?

Because human nature demands that whatever we have not documented is at risk of being forgotten, it is recommended to document all important components of your study strategy to avoid this risk. Aside from just saving your memory, there are a number of other advantages to creating a study strategy.

Clear process when engaging your participants

A user research project is a discovery process and it’s easy to get off track. In order to properly understand our users and what they want, we may find ourselves in a cycle of testing multiple concepts at once and exposing the users to a large number of various versions of our product. Testing all of these prototypes becomes distracting for them, and we may end up with confusing results. Even if we do wish to test all of these prototypes, we need to have a well-thought-out strategy for doing so.

Demonstrate the research’s objective to stakeholders 

A research strategy is a wonderful approach to show stakeholders what the user research’s purpose is and how you’ll carry it out. Because such documentation exists, anyone can consult it at any time and participate in the process.

Stay on track to achieve results

Research strategies keep everyone on track and ensure that the goals are well defined and that the research will provide clear insights. They keep all stakeholders focused on the end goal, the big picture, rather than getting sidetracked in the details or switching the research goal in the middle. Most importantly, they allow researchers (or whoever else is conducting the research) to concentrate and ensure that they meet the research plan’s objectives in the most effective manner possible.  

user research plan

User research plan template

To save you some time, we created a simple User Research Plan Template  which you can copy and adapt to your own research.

It contains everything a user research plan should include. Read the next paragraph, where we will explain in detail what your one-page plan should contain and why.

What should your user research plan include?

Title 

A title for the project you’re working on should be included in your plan. This is assigned to any document in order to identify it.

Author 

Include the name of the individual who is in charge of generating this research plan, as well as the person to whom people can submit input on the document.

Stakeholders

These are the people who are involved in this research and with whom you will share your user research strategy. It could be your team members who will be impacted by this research or people who came up with this research initiative. Include relevant information such as their roles and contact details.

Date

Provide the date on which the plan document was generated, as well as any subsequent revision dates to keep track of any changes.

Background

This is a one-paragraph summary that explains why user research is being conducted as well as all relevant background information. The purpose of the background is to make it clear what your research plan is about.

Objective

Represents the main goal of conducting your user research. It’s a brief statement about what you hope to learn by conducting the study. Whatever your focus is, you should come to a clear conclusion on that matter by the end of the research.

Questions to ask

They will help to give you direction on what to ask users when conducting the research. Planning your research questions helps to make sure you haven’t left anything out and that your questions are well formulated according to the objectives. Learn How to ask good questions in usability testing.

Methodology

You can perform your user research using a variety of  methodologies. Take the time to understand your problem, your users, the context and what you want to achieve in order to choose the best method for the project. For more on different research methodologies you can use, here is a guide on that.

Target audience

To know your research participants, agree as a team on who your target users are. Include the participants’ specific traits and demographic information so that you can track exactly who you’re researching. Obtaining research participants can be difficult at times, so we’ve put together some helpful tips on How to motivate people to attend your research.

Schedule

Make a schedule for when you’ll conduct your survey’s activities. You can include milestones to indicate when each deliverable is due.

Script

This is the procedure you’ll actually follow each time when conducting your research. It includes items such as the amount of time you’ve allotted for the session, your recording procedure and how you’ll handle participant data.

Research tools

Include any tools or resources you’ll need to perform your research in your list. To perform your research, you may need UX Research tools, documentation tools, or a research lab, depending on the approach. Here is a list of 7 UX survey tools you can use to conduct your user research. 

Tips for your user research plan

A user research plan that you and your stakeholders prepare together is key to a successful start of a UX research project. Here are a few things to consider to make you and your stakeholders come to an agreement.

  • Gather all your common knowledge, agreements, and understanding of what will occur, why, with whom, and when in a couple of sentences that will represent your main objective.
  • Set the right expectations for all stakeholders, and make sure your research plan is focused on the main goal.
  • Keep the plan short and simple so that all of your stakeholders can understand it. You can work from a more detailed plan, but for your stakeholders, the Interaction Design Foundation recommends a One Page User Research Plan.
  • Make the UX research plan a team effort by incorporating all team members so that everyone understands it.
  • The list of questions you’re aiming to answer is at the heart of the user research, choose the appropriate ones and avoid bias.

A user research plan’s deliverables

The deliverable for a user research plan is a document that outlines all of the details of the study you’re about to undertake. The purpose of the document should be to answer these questions concerning your research:

user research plan

Examples of a good user research plan

To give you a better picture of what your plan should look like, we found a great user research plan examples on the web. It’s a research study conducted by user researcher Shivang Patwa for the company called “InstaCar”.

This document perfectly discribes every step of the research process and provides all the needed information for everybody involved in the study.

What’s next after your user research plan?

Once you’re done with the user research plan consider how you’ll deliver the results of your study to your stakeholders and team. During the session, tell an engaging story and include quotations and videos from your participants to help stakeholders understand the effect of your research. After all is said and done, store your insights in a way that anybody can access and understand at any time. This will guarantee that your research leaves a lasting effect on your team and project.

Ready to get started ?

Now that you’ve finished your user research plan, you can rest comfortable with a strategy for getting information from your users that will help you design your projects. 

To get started with your user research, UXtweak is a user research tool that can help you with everything from recruiting participants to running your study. We even have resources to help you get started, such as how to motivate people to attend your research. Create an account today and get ahead of your competitors with quality user research!

Salome Katunzi
December 21, 2021
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Salome is a driven UI/UX designer who enjoys empathizing with users in order to identify problems and come up with innovative solutions. She also likes writing educational content about UX and visual design.

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