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Build the Case for Design Research

Staffing and Time Requirements

Quality research requires time. But don’t let time constraints stop you from doing any design research. Some research is always better than none.

Your job title doesn’t need to say “Design Researcher” to do design research.

This guide gives you the basic information to understand

When doing research, there will need to be a shift of staff responsibilities to provide some time for research activities.

If your team is unable to shift staff responsibilities, you can be hire a contractor or full-time researcher.

Researcher Roles and Responsibilities

You should always work in pairs when doing research. At a minimum, you should assign team members to the first two roles:

  • Moderator: As a moderator your job is to lead the research session, asking questions and directing activities. You will be responsible for the safety and comfort of the participant for the entirety of the session.
  • Recorder: As a recorder your job is to transcribe session, taking notes and photos. Having transcripts completed means you will be able to use them as reference and analysis.
  • Observer (optional): Observes the session and takes personal notes. This role will rotate with different project team members.
    • You should not include more than one observer at an in person research session. Having too many people in the room can be intimating for participants.
  • Technical assistant (optional): As a technical assistant your job is to troubleshoot technical difficulties when running or recording a remote research session. This role is helpful when you are doing online research with a group of participants. You may not want to interrupt the whole group if one participant is having issues.

Involve the Whole Project Team

Involve your project team and executive as an observer to the research. The benefits of having them watch at least one design research session include:

  • Human-centred suggestions: Having other members participate in the research sessions will encourage them to prioritize user needs, rather than pursue design concepts that may not meet the user’s needs.
  • Credibility: Your team will see that your design is based on research and not personal preference.
  • Buy-in: Reviewing what happened in the research sessions as a group you can determine priorities together.
  • Memorability: Remembering things is easier when you experience them rather than reading a report after.
  • Empathy: They are able to relate to the user and understand why the service is not working.

Get Approval From Executives

You may need to get approval from your executive before starting research.

Key questions that your executives may ask:

A good way to capture the scope and requirements for research is to create a research plan. This plan is also a tool to communicate with your executive

Before doing complex research you need to get approval.

Write a Research Plan

A research plan outlines the goals, approach and logistics for research. The plan should include:

The research plan is a guide. Expect the unexpected. The team may have to make changes in schedules, participants or direction of the research.

Use the Research Plan Canvas (coming soon) to help plan your research project