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How to create your own User Research Plan

We all know the value of User Research. It helps a UX team plan the project, could be a product or service, better to make it valuable and usable for the users. And a detailed user research plan would keep the research goals in hindsight whilst working through its orchestration.At times, the very process of user research can be so enthralling that one might lose sight of the reason they were working on in the first place, or something out of the blue happens that can force them to shift their focus.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail – Benjamin Franklin.

It is at this moment that a user research plan comes to the rescue. User research Plan is an excellent tool for fostering alignment – it can make sure the team working on the project is in tandem with the research goals, objectives, budgets and timeframes. Throughout the project, the team can refer back to the user research plan – their blueprint of the project.

UX-research-plans

Why do we create a user research plan?

A user research plan keeps the entire team on track and makes sure the goals, however overreaching, are well-defined and will the team gather the right answers during research. It will keep the entire UX team aligned on the bigger picture and an outcome instead of getting or switching objectives midway by mistake, or getting lost in the translation. Most importantly, It allows the team (apart from the UX researchers) to concentrate and make sure to answer the questions that the objectives of the user research plan posed effectively and efficiently. In layman terms, the UX team has to be definitive about answering the questions set out by the objectives to uncover.

There is one research method I would like you, my readers, to give a brief introduction to, as I do not remember the others mentioning it in their previous blogs about User Research on the website, i.e. a generative research plan! Let us begin, yeah?

What is a generative research plan?

I would define a generative research plan as UX research method that creates an in-depth understanding of who the customers are. It helps UX researchers to dig into a person’s identity beyond their interaction with the product. Also known as exploratory research, the goals of this research method is always the same – look at the world surrounding one to find opportunities for innovative solutions. These innovative solutions could be in terms of new products, experiences or just an update to an existing issue.

To discover innovative solutions, the UX team must specify the issue they are trying to solve: what the consumer usually experience in their daily lives, including their habitat, thoughts, opinions, and behaviours. While creating a generative research plan, it is pivotal for the UX team to keep an open mind as they are yet to define the problem they are trying to solve.

Generative-research-plan

What makes a generative research plan valuable?

If the UX team does not have a generative research plan, then they would end up creating something that is not useful or needed. Many failed products in the market reflect that the creators were addressing an issue they fully did not understand.

One must not develop the best solution as a result of extensive research whilst refining the design – one should come up with an innovative solution by identifying the problem first with a generative research plan.

UX research plan script – one page research plan

As usual, I scorched the internet looking for a UX research plan script. I found many detailed case studies, but this is not me trying to complete my thesis on the user research plan, so I would keep it simple to a one page research plan. Here goes –

Title:-

giving the plan a title allows the reader to know what it’s about.

Contact details of the authors:-

in case there are feedbacks, the readers should know how to contact the authors.

Details of stakeholder(s) :

this is for the stakeholders to identify other relevant parties, in case they get curious about who else has had a look at this user research plan.

Date:-

People would want to know if they are working with an updated version of the plan. So, mentioning dates in terms of revision is crucial.

Document control:-

if the stakeholder’s organisation has a system for document control, it is a good idea to follow it in the user research plan.

Introduction:-

setting up the stage in terms of background and context. A simple paragraph on any relevant history and why this plan is required.

Objectives:-

one short statement on what is it that the plan is trying to achieve. Please keep it simple by mentioning a single objective, so as not create confusion.

List of questions:-

Keep this list short as well because the plan will not answer hundreds of questions; the list should not exceed more than ten questions.

The methods to be utilised:-

explain the what, the where and the how.

The people required:-

define the users who will help you with your research for insights. Please remember to keep the details to a minimum.

The time required:-

give these people a timeline so they remain informed as to when the plan will reflect results. Make sure to include some preliminary milestones, in case of a long project, so that people can remain updated with the progress as well.

List of references:-

signpost any relevant reference to the plan, including previous studies and results, etc. along with previously suggested scripts that can be used in the user research plan.

Research plan example of user research template

Allow me to use a research plan example of a user research template for context to simplify it for you. Imagine you are a part of Swiggy’s UX team from their initial days before they became a giant. Your team recently got interested in learning more about how your consumers use the Swiggy app to order their meals, and what makes them use the Swiggy app over apps like Zomato, FoodPanda and Domino’s.

Introduction

For this research project, we remain focused on two main areas:

1. Understanding the motivation behind why our consumers ordering meals on the Swiggy API to gather an in-depth understanding of the journey they go through when they order their meal(s).

2. We are also interested in learning how our consumers currently use Swiggy API.

3. We would also like to inquire about any pain points or issues the consumers are experiencing on Swiggy API.

Stakeholder(s) involved

Retention team: researcher(s), product manager(s), designer(s), writer(s), developer(s), and the senior management.

Acquisition team: researcher(s), product manager(s), designer(s), writer(s), developer(s), and the senior management.

Research method(s)

Twenty 60-minute discussions split amongst:

  • Discovering usability (browsing before ordering) sessions
  • Sessions about tasks to be completed.
  • Post-qualitative reviews on importance of Swiggy API’s features and concepts.

User research objectives

  • Discovering the consumers’ end-to-end journey when considering and ordering meals.
  • Revealing the current manner consumers undergo when reviewing and ordering their meals on Swiggy API.
  • Recognising the competitive landscape to understand the additional commodities consumers are currently utilising, and why.
  • Assessing Swiggy API for any immediate pain points, bugs, or glitches the consumer is currently facing.

Business objectives

  • Retention rate of the consumer.
  • Satisfaction rate of the consumer (measured by System Usability Scale)
  • Number of new users logging onto Swiggy API.
  • Understanding various competitor’s APIs.

Participants

Number of participants = 50

  • 20 current users
  • 30 non-users
  • A mix of both genders

Interview guide

This section mostly talks about the potential queries you should ask during the discussions. Questions may include:

  • Tell me more about how you felt after ordering food from Swiggy?
  • Explain the journey you embarked as you ordered food?
  • Describe what you mean by a more direct payment gateway?
  • Walk me through your choices before you finally ordered your meal?

UX Metrics

  • Assessment and drop in the number of bugs found on Swiggy API.
  • Improvements in UX to tackle pain points, including user testing potential prototypes.
  • Task completion statements and desired outcomes.
  • Customer journey and persona mapping.

Timeline

Approximately 6–8 weeks which would include recruitment, qualitative research, quantitative analysis, surveying and review.

Conclusion

Remember that your user research plan is a miniature version of your project. Make sure to use the simplest way to align expectations, gather feedback, and garner support for it. User research plan templates, at times, are very crucial to execute big projects. You can either look for one online or make your own(with enough experience to back you). It will become a constant reminder of what the process entails, so you and your team can deliver correct information to the correct people. A template allows you to stay on track throughout the user research plan. A user research plan can actively guide your discussions with the users or provides an active structure for the design. If you follow the right user research plan, then it can guarantee you a well-versed research project.

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