User Research Plans

What should a user research plan look like?

Unsurprisingly the answer is “It depends”, but if you want a great reference, check out this example from a local government project in the UK.

They cover:
1. Project Background

2. Research Objectives

3. Research Approach

  • Hypothesis
  • Methods
  • Participants
  • Location
  • Recordings
  • Accessibility

4. Research Roadmap

  • Round 1: In-depth interviews with internal teams
  • Round 2: In-depth interviews with residents
  • Round 3: Survey
  • Round 4: Usability Testing

5. Interview Guide

6. Project Assumptions

Pretty neat huh? It’s actually part of a broader collection of open research that anyone can access.

What do you like? What will you borrow? What’s missing?

@Rich_Brophy I love this example! and I must say this follows a very similar approach to how I plan my research

What I would love to see is more of the underlying thinking and actions that led the team to determine their hypothesis, and what were the rejects.

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Thanks Rich :slight_smile:
Valuable to see alternatives, I will use it to further morph my analytical approaches

That’s what I like to hear @GregH !

Let us know how you get on.

Hi @Rich_Brophy - interested in your thoughts on how best to deal with response bias.

It seems so difficult to get reliable answers when you interview people about your website and ask what they do, what they would do in a particular situation, and why – and then watch them use your website. People can be so reluctant to offend and instead do their best to tell you want you want to hear.

This is why I find out thumbs up/down and our Google Analytics and other insights tools so useful because it’s pretty much unfiltered.

Are there other ways that you account for or manage response bias?

This is a perennial hazard @jennifer.weiley - unfortunately I don’t think there is any way to remove 100% of response bias. It’s a bit like quantum theory - by observing, we influence.

When I do face-to-face testing, I explain that there is a team behind the product / solution, but my role is a tester - implying that I am not the designer of the product being tested. It’s opaque (which may raise ethical questions), but I find it makes participants more relaxed and more forthcoming with criticism.

When creating questionnaires, I look at questions and ask myself “Would I ask this differently if I had a different solution in mind?”.

I definitely think having questions and response choices reviewed by others is effective - but language ALWAYS shapes thinking, so as above, I think good has to be good enough because there is no perfect.

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Left field idea: When I was working as a writer, I’d sometimes put on a voice in my head to match the brand I was working for.

It meant the writing could flow without me thinking too much about what each word should be.

Maybe having the voice of a hyper-rational robot in your head as you write comms and questionnaires would help?:writing_hand: :robot:


In case you missed it, there’s now a user research plan template in the NSW Activities & Templates hub.

Feedback, builds, blockers or gratitude gratefully accepted.


I just wanted to say thank you for these templates! I recently used one as a guide for a short stint of user research and it was really helpful to look at your layout - and in particular your Research Plan example.

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Shoutouts to @KimberlyRichards for this!

It’s also given my research approach some valuable structure.

Anyone else used the research plan template yet?

Hi Kate,

I’m in the process of gathering some user stories about our resources, and was wondering if I could hear about your experience with the research plan?

Let me know, I’d love to book in a 30 min chat some time in the coming weeks.


Hi Rich,

Sure - it would be great to say hello and chat about the Research Plan. Could you send me an email and we’ll take it from there? ( )