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Plan the Research

1. Start with Research Goals and Questions

Before planning the research, make sure to define your research goal and questions with your team.

2. Choose Research Activities

Based on your research goal and questions, choose the most relevant research activities. Common qualitative research activities are

You can conduct research activities remotely if meeting participants in person is not an option.

3. Identify the Right Participants

Design research with real participants of your service is the best way to get meaningful information. Asking people in your office for feedback will not give insight into how effective your service is at meeting user needs.

For government services, users can come from many places, and every service will have different types of users. There is no such thing as an “average user” or “average British Columbian”.

4. Specify the Audience Groups

The audience groups are the specific groups of people you want to do research with. A great way to identify your audience would be to ask, “who will most likely use this service?”

Criteria might be

  • A particular demographic (for example, women under 30 years of age)
  • A specific group (for example, small business owners or internal staff)
  • Specific life events (for example, users who have recently moved or are looking for a job)
  • Specific access needs (for example, people who use assistive technology)
  • A specific level of digital skill (for example, users who have basic online skills)

You will probably need to identify multiple audience groups.

Gender Based Analysis+ (GBA+) in Research

GBA+ is an analytical process used to assess how women, men and non-binary people, along with other intersecting factors may experience policies, programs and services differently. Across all audiences, you should use a GBA+ process to inform your recruitment so you can understand the research question from the viewpoints of a diversity of people.

Always try to recruit a representative spread of

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Social and economic status
  • Cultural and linguistic background
  • Geographic location
  • Education level

When you’ve defined your audiences, decide which groups you will include in each round of research. You might not be able to do research with every group identified in your first round of research.

You should keep of record of these missing groups to show gaps in your research to make a case for more research.

5. Decide on Number of Participants

There is no exact number of participants you need when completing design research. For each round of interviews or usability tests with each audience group, you should have between 4 and 8 participants. After 5 sessions you should see patterns in answers and themes emerging.

You don’t need a huge sample size in qualitative research to get value insights.

6. Create a Budget

Design research doesn’t have to be expensive, but there are some costs to consider like