7 things to consider for an effective research plan

August 10, 2023

Creating a thorough research plan is just as important as running the study itself. A well-crafted user research plan serves as a roadmap, ensuring that the research process is systematic, focused, and yields valuable insights. In this post, we’ll explore some of the key considerations to keep in mind when drafting a user research plan.

1. Understand Project Objectives

Begin by gaining a comprehensive understanding of the project objectives. What specific questions do you need answers to? How do they translate to business objectives? Whether it’s identifying pain points, assessing usability, or testing new features, defining clear research objectives will provide a solid foundation for the entire research process as you validate your assumptions.

2. Define User Profile

Recruiting and speaking to the right user profile is critical for addressing the research questions. Have a clear idea of how your user profile looks like. Highlight their demographics, needs, challenges, behaviors, and jobs-to-be-done. Having a clear definition of your user profile will facilitate the recruiting process and accurately reflect the actual end users.

3. Choose the Appropriate Research Methods

Select the most suitable research methods based on your objectives and resources. Common user research methods include interviews, surveys, usability testing, and diary studies. Consider using a mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches to gather and triangulate data.

4. Design Research Protocols and Questions

Develop research protocols and interview guides that align with your research methods and objectives. Whether it is setting the tone of the conversation or validating an assumption, it is important to know why you are asking or what you want to get out of each question.

5. Plan Participant Recruitment

Determine the number of participants required for your research and establish participant criteria. If it is a qualitative study, consider aiming for a low number of participants (5–8 depending on the outcome), but focus on the qualitative whys. Also, consider factors such as demographics, experience level, or specific user behaviors. Utilize online tools, user testing platforms, or recruitment agencies to find suitable participants.

6. Collaborate with Stakeholders

User research is a continuous team effort. Involve relevant stakeholders, such as product managers, designers, developers or data scientists, as early as possible in the research planning process. Their input and collaboration will ensure that research findings align with the project’s goals and lead to actionable outcomes.

7. Iterate on the Research Plan

A research plan is never static. It’s not something that you draft in the beginning and leave it unattended. Iterate and improve the research plan based on inputs from stakeholders and feel free to adjust along the process as you find new learnings. Continuously adapt and refine your research approach to make the most of your research efforts.

A well-thought-out plan sets the foundation for successful research, leading to actionable insights for informed product development decisions. If you have any thoughts on how to build an effective research plan or have any questions on how to leverage Hubble for your user research, feel free to contact me at jin@hubble.team.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create a realistic timeline for my user research plan?

Break down the research process into phases, estimating the time needed for each activity. Factor in participant recruitment, testing sessions, data analysis, and reporting. Be realistic about potential challenges or delays.

What role does stakeholder involvement play in a user research plan?

Involving stakeholders helps align research goals with broader project objectives. Seek their input in defining research questions and share findings to ensure insights are integrated into decision-making.

How many participants should I include in my research plan?

The number of participants depends on the research goals and the complexity of the study. Generally, aim for a maximum of 8 participants for usability testing and a diverse sample for broader insights.

How can I ensure my user research plan aligns with business goals?

Collaborate with key stakeholders to align research goals with broader business objectives. Clearly articulate how research insights will inform decision-making and contribute to the success of the project or product.

Jin Jeon

UX Researcher
Read other articles
Jin is a UX researcher at Hubble that helps customers collect user research insights. Jin also helps the Hubble marketing team create content related to continuous discovery. Before Hubble, Jin worked at Microsoft as a UX researcher. He graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from U.C. Berkekley and an M.S in Human Computer Interaction from University of Washington.

Related posts

Top UX Research Firms in the US and the Best Alternative in 2024

Top UX Research Firms in the US and the Best Alternative in 2024

Analyzing qualitative data with thematic analysis and affinity mapping

Analyzing qualitative data with thematic analysis and affinity mapping

The best UX analytics tools in 2024

The best UX analytics tools in 2024