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How to write a research plan

Research plans bring focus and clarity to your work. Here's a quick guide to writing your first one.

Define your research goal

(2 to 3 sentences, max) What outcomes are you aiming to achieve? e.g. to discover general user behavior about your City service? To test or observe reactions to a specific tool?

 

Outline your research questions

(3 to 5 specific questions, max. If you have more, you likely need another research plan.) What problems are you aiming to solve for? What outcomes are you aiming to achieve?


Sample research questions:

  1. What, if anything, do users find confusing?
  2. What, if anything, do users find clear and easy to use?
  3. What usability improvements, if any, can we apply to the new [website, tool, app etc.]?

 

Detail your methodology

How will you conduct your research? Will it all be in English or other languages? How many people will you interview? What devices will they use?

Example: We’ll conduct in-person interviews with English and Spanish speakers who live in San Jose: 4 on mobile device; 4 on desktop device.

 

Write out your script

How will you talk the users through each task? What questions do you want to ask them? How will you measure feedback to their reactions?

Example: “Please remember we’re testing our ideas not you. There are no right or wrong answers. Please speak your thoughts out loud and be as honest as possible.

Follow-up questions:

  • On a scale from 1(very difficult) to 5(very easy) how difficult was it to perform the tasks described?
  • What, if anything, wasn’t clear?
  • What, if anything, was clear?"