Just Enough Research

Updated on November 27th, 2018

Chapter 3:  The Process

Define the problem

  • Useful research study depends on a clear problem statement. Base your statement on a verb that indicates an outcome, such as “describe,” “evaluate,” or “identify.”

Select the approach

  • The topic and nature of your questions will guide your choice of research activities.

Plan and prepare for the research

  • Identify the point person who will keep track of everything.
  • Sketch out a plan in terms of time, money, people involved and their roles, necessary materials, etc.


Recruiting is simply locating, attracting, screening, and acquiring research participants.

A good research participant:

  • Shares the concerns and goals of your target users.
  • Embodies key characteristics of your target users, such as age or role.
  • Can articulate their thoughts clearly.
  • Is as familiar with the relevant technology as your target user

Recruiting isn’t fun but it gets easier with practice:

  • Use the web to cast a wide net.
  • Use a screener to make sure that you’re recruiting the right people.

Key elements for screening:

  • What are all of the specific behaviors you’re looking for?
  • What level of tool knowledge and access do participants need?
  • What level of knowledge about the topic (domain knowledge) do they need?

Collect the data

  • Find your research subjects.
  • Conduct your interviews.
  • Do your field observation.
  • Run your usability tests.

Materials and tools

  • Use what you already have frst, and go for familiar tools.


  • A simple interview remains the most effective way to get inside another person’s head and see the world as they do.

Usability testing

  • The goal is to determine to what extent the product or service as designed is usable.

Analyze the data 

  •  Gather data and look for meaningful patterns. Turn the patterns into observations, and from those, recommendations will emerge.
  • Get the team involved in analysis, include people who can contribute to a productive session or who will benefit from participating.
  • Follow an explicit strucutre to make sure you cover everything and work productively.
  • Acknowledge the goal is to better understand the context and the needs of the user. Focus soley on that goal.

Report the results

  • Create a summary report in a sharable format.
  • Keep it simple: a sketch of a persona, photos of post-its or a whiteboard is better than a lengthy report that goes ignored.
  • Write a brief, well organised summary that includes goals, methods, insights and recommendations.

(More soon).