Actionable Research Question is generated from stakeholder and project needs, Product Roadmap, or Product & Design Strategy, and must be addressed carefully: answering the key question in the right manner, on a suitable timeline and budget.
A clear research question sets the foundation of a study, and the team’s needs, budget, and ways of working constrain how it unfolds.
Planning requires an understanding of methods available, their expected output, and how that information feeds into planned synthesis or modeling activities. It speaks to the full range of work that needs to occur—and the constraints and dependencies on that work—to move from question, to data, to useful insight. Plans should also reflect the reality of the context of work—how many people will be involved, where-and-how they are expected to contribute, and timing of the key milestones that will reflect real progress.
A well-laid plan also requires buy-in and participation ahead of time from the team members who will be a part of it, or impacted by it. It is much healthier to find mismatched expectations and incorporate them into the planning phase, rather than the live study.
Consider where or how you can observe real behavior, and real context. Behavior is the strongest and most viable signal for design research, and the type of raw data that allows us to draw well-formed inferences and insights from our work. Plan backwards from there, layering in the constraints, timing, and expectations generated from the circumstances you’re working in.
Therefore, carefully plan your study's methods and approach to cover the topics you need to learn about in a rigorous and viable way. Ensure in advance you will have the type of evidence you need to create the outcomes you’re aiming for. Scope your approach with a realistic sense of the time it takes to conduct research and sensemaking, and the budget you can operate with. Share and review the plan with relevant stakeholders ahead of time to generate alignment and buy-in.
Know that a plan is the beginning. As you gain deeper understanding of context, expect the need to adapt your plan to best serve the project’s needs.
As part of your study planning you set the conditions for defining Participant Segment & Screener. Together a plan and screener enable Participant Recruiting & Coordination. Having the right participants enables a full range of research efforts: User Interview, Usability Test, Field Interview, Concept Test, Experience Sample / Diary Study, Information Architecture Study.