My research process checklist
Sometimes we need to step away from our situation and to understand if we are offering accurate solutions for the right user and the right problems, in case you are working with ongoing products.
A little context
Project name: Client’s voice
Project duration: 2 months
My role: UX Researcher
Client: Product area
Background: As soon I arrived on my official team, I noticed that there wasn’t research about who are our current user, or the tasks he/ she was trying to solve, but the features were continuing to be produced
Challenges: The UX Researcher role was new for the team, and there was little maturity in design, so it was necessary to explain many times some details about processes like recruiting users, the number of users, and so on. Sometimes I needed to deal with their anxiety about common problems in our area, for example, the dropout scheduled interviews.
I would not expect another behavior due to, in most cases, the companies don’t care or simply don’t have the maturity in design that we would like to see, so our role is to bring them to us as well, not just to research. So, explaining our processes is one way to reach this aim.
I could try to execute all research waves, although we work with people’s anxiety too, so it’s important to make some checkpoints as possible with stakeholders
My process (and comments)
.::. Alignment with stakeholders .::.
Kickoff meeting: Being the first official research with this team, and considering the context above, I thought it would be necessary to guide them more, especially to differentiate what was a hypothesis, a certainty, and a doubt. It was clear how they were stuck in pre-concept ideas about the real users; they were aiming for a high.
Majorly, I try to fill up these requirements below (as much as we know, better):
- Main aims of this study: Where will we want to be at the research end?
- Deadline: How urgent is this study?
- Connected OKRs or specific goals: Is there a huge motivation behind this research?
- CSD (Certainties, Suppositions & Doubts) Matrix: What do we know, suspect, and want to discover about this subject?
- Research results: What will we do with the results?
- Limitations: Do we have anything that could prevent us from going ahead?
Normally I interrupt the research if I can’t meet these requirements because this first stage is important to guide our efforts, budget, and time. Research without directions can go anywhere, beyond this, it’s hard to define methods, for example.
.::. Planning research .::.
With goals, deadlines, and previous data about the subject, I could organize all elements. I would say that I began by methods, but if we didn’t have enough time or money enough, probably we will need to take another way — normally more cheaply and quickly.
In this case, I decided to segment the study into three waves, being the first one the most essential, because our kickoff meeting showed that we needed generative research.
- Methods: I) Interviews to explore the user’s journey II) Diary Studies, if it would be necessary III) Survey to understand the relevance of the findings
- Profiles: We decided to recruit clients that had some online purchase experience focusing on what they did, how, contexts, and motivations
I knew if I didn’t have enough time to execute three waves due to stakeholders’ anxiety, I probably had to choose one method. Interviews would be my first choice because understanding relevance is basically about numbers, and Diary Studies would take more time than the interview
.::. Recruiting stage .::.
I had problems recruiting, but nothing special (no answers and dropouts). This is my checklist:
- Extracting clients’ base
- Saving slots to interview
- Preparing texts to invite them
- Preparing Consent for Audio-Video Recording
- Bônus ordering
At a specific moment, PMs suggested that we do interviews for 30 minutes — likely because the time of interaction was so long, and due to it, we weren’t getting enough users -, so it was necessary to explain these things to happen everytime and we would get it.
.::. Preparing materials .::.
No surprises, just a check before we get started.
- Alignment between who will conduct and observe
- Writing script
- Review devices and platforms to record interviews
.::. Execution .::.
Well, this is one of my favorite parts of this process — when you learn something, and realize how things can be so different from the “office truths”. I like to invite some stakeholders to see a little about stages, and make them be part of this construction mainly because this is not MY research, it’s OUR research
- Sending the Consent for Audio-Video Recording
- Confirmation agenda with users: They can forget the appointment, so remind them, and reinforce some tips like using headphones, and staying in a calm place
- Interviews: I like to consider the script as just a support for researchers. Sometimes we need to forget it and focus on what our user is telling you
- Transcriptions: I try at maximum to transcript an interview in the sequence, or on the same day, because two good reasons: first because the subjects are fresher in my mind, and second because I can recognize and explore some points in the next interviews
.::. Analysis and cross information .::.
Do you know when all items of a cake receipt are on the table? That’s the moment for us. I save my agenda just to do this, especially to zoom out and understand if I need deep or if there’s theoretical saturation.
- Categorization: Grouping data, recognizing what is pain, insight or opportunity, and patterns
- Crossing the information: It seems a detective’s work (I love to think this way), so now I make correlations, understand the symptoms, causes, and suggestions
.::. Sharing results and opportunities .::.
I could try to execute all research waves, although we work with people’s anxiety too, so it’s important to make some checkpoints as possible with stakeholders, and this was what I did.
- Presentation: Showing findings in an exciting way it’s important to get attention. Think always of them — how do they communicate?
- Spreadsheet of opportunities and findings: In routine, we have more difficulty to absorb findings in the presentation way, so I recommend “slicing” the findings in lines complementing why, context, and relevance for the user
.::. How results have been used nowadays .::.
In this case, I had luck because I could include findings in Discovery Roadmap (I wrote how it has been working here)
- Discovery Roadmap: It’s supposed stakeholders use findings as a base to build a roadmap/ backlog, but I didn’t see this much in my career — normally findings stayed “on the shelf”
.::. Technologies .::.