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  1. Service manual
  2. User research
  3. Plan user research for your service

Before you start designing or building your service, you need to work with your team to decide:

  • what you want to learn about your users
  • how you want to learn it

Agreeing your objectives and the approach you want to take for each development phase will help you build a service that meets the needs of your users.

Meeting the Digital Service Standard

To pass point 2 (do ongoing research) in your service assessments you must show that you have an ongoing plan to research and test your service with all your users, including those with access and support needs.

Plan for each phase

At the beginning of each phase, you must work as a team to:

  • write your research questions (or ‘unknowns’) and group them by theme
  • decide what user research activities will help you answer your questions
  • agree the types of users you want to do research with
  • decide how to recruit participants for each activity
  • review and share the findings of any existing research
  • identify any challenges or deadlines that may influence your research plan

Make sure you have space for a research wall, along with post-its, pens and access to a printer. Use the wall to highlight questions the team is exploring and share information about your research goals and findings.

Plan ahead

Once you’ve worked out what your high-level questions are and the activities you’ll use to research them, you need to work out:

  • when activities need to happen (including any lead times for booking facilities or recruiting participants)
  • how much funding is available and what you need to do to access it
  • any processes you need to follow when choosing or appointing suppliers or agencies (ie departmental procurement requirements)

Start booking resources and sending briefs out to suppliers as soon as you can. Procurement can take longer than you think, so don’t wait until you know exactly what you’ll need or it may be too late to make arrangements.

Involve your team

To help your team understand the role and influence of user research in each phase, involve them in:

  • observing research activities
  • helping with user research activities (eg note taking, pairing on site visits)
  • building prototypes and other materials
  • analysing results

Share your findings

Your research plan needs to fit into your team’s overall development approach.

This means you have to agree how to feed user research findings into story backlogs, prioritisation meetings, sprint planning and any other ways the team makes decisions about how to build your service.

If you don’t work this out, you may do huge amounts of research that the team can’t respond to. It’s also difficult to react to a team that’s moving ahead of you.

You may also find the following guides useful:

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User research community
Last update:

Guidance first published