Day#350: The importance of a Research Plan

Day#350: The importance of a Research Plan

Hey Researchers for today I wanted to discuss the importance of a Research Plan for Researchers. This is like your Usability Test Plan and I have discussed briefly the importance of it in my post on Usability testing here. You can also refer to this as your Research Plan, and it is the same document that encapsulates all the planning for the research sessions you will be conducting. Why is it so important, and can a “One pager” suffice? I understand we all may have tight deadlines, and the role you may be in may be requiring you to do a lot more than you have time for. However a Usability test plan/Research plan is so crucial for ensuring you have a plan for moving forward. This is not to be confused with your script, because your script is generally a separate document which allows for you or your colleague viewing the session to take notes on. So what is the Research Plan?

Well your research plan allows for you to state your hypothesis, this you will pick up from the dialogue you have with the team you are working with. Here is an example, you may ask the team what their goals and problem statement for seeking research is. The product owner could say, “We know that users love using this product for vacations, but we want to know if users can use this on a daily basis”. From this you will ascertain in a polite way how the product owner knows this. It is your job as the researcher to understand if statements have been validated by sound research from past projects and if the research done is relevant and helpful to the product currently. I say that because users evolve and grow, and what was fine ten years ago may not be fine today. Once you understand the hypotheses listing them in the research plan will help to keep the team and yourself in check, because let’s face it as researchers we are people too. We come with our own biases and mental models around topics and including them in the document will help for you to understand that they too need to be assessed for validity. 

Once you understand the problem statement and goals of the team, as well as the hypotheses you will work on conceptualizing ways to research and deliver findings. How will you provide ways to get to those findings? If you are a seasoned researcher you will have an arsenal of tools for different situations that you can use for the situation. If you are new to research you can search online for existing methodologies and then take some time to think about the way in which each method would work and if it would suit your situation. For example, if a team does not understand their user behaviour, Ethnographic research is more needed and watching and understanding what drives their users in a profound way is essential to creating artifacts like archetypes and personas. Including the ways in which you will deliver the findings is a nice way to let the team know how you will get to those results. This is necessary for two reasons, to let any questions be resolved at this point before you go out and conduct the research and then have to deal with questions on the process and methodologies conducted. As well as to check in with the team and ensure that your goals are still aligned. Sometimes things can be misinterpreted, lost in translation with mails, and things can change. I am an eternal planner to avoid the worst outcomes, and doing the above will really help prevent situations where you running through your final playback and have a lot of pushback because the findings are all just too much for teams to handle. That is also something I will be discussing in my next post, we will be discussing final reports and playbacks. Happy researching until next time. 

Bye for now

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