User Research — more than you expect

Research Loop
7 min readSep 21, 2021

Stakeholders granted you time and budget to do User Research. That is very good news! I can feel that you are eager to actually get in contact with your users, regardless of the research method you choose — user interviews, usability testing, card sorting, surveys, etc. And this is understandable, the sooner you get insights, the better. Especially in a very time-constrained corporate context, with a lot of pressure from your managers, and other parties that are involved.

But I didn’t choose the iceberg image randomly. Actually facilitating the sessions with your users, or sending the surveys, or whatever other method you choose, is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, there are A LOT of other things to be done, both before and after the facilitated research sessions. I know it sounds a bit daunting, icebergs are massive and scary, but beautiful at the same time.

Let’s explore a bit the image above. As you can see there are a couple of things others see we do, and a lot more than they actually don’t see. Exactly those hidden activities have a great impact on how the research study will go and what insights it will yield, therefore great attention is needed. No pressure! 🙂

Preparing a user research study

As I mentioned above, I know you can’t wait to jump directly in getting the insights you need. But a strategy is needed. First things first — design a Test Plan, a place where the whole team will have all the details needed to understand what is happening in this user research study at any given point in time.

It’s a living document, and collaboration is needed. I’ve written an article about how to design a Test Plan in case you are not familiar with how to do it, but feel free to make your own version of Test Plan based on your context:

As the skeleton of the Test Plan is in place, there are two things you and your team need to agree on: the objectives of the study and the research questions you want to answer after the study is over. I…

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