Chapter 6. Planning User Research

Planning User Research

Once you understand the basics of the business, it's time to move on to understanding the people who will buy and use the product. These may include the customers who make the purchase decision (as well as those who influence the decision), current users of the product or service, and potential users. Once in a while, there are also people who are affected by the product but never encounter it directly, such as hospital patients who are indirectly served by hospital information systems.

The object of planning is to ensure that your sample is broad enough to cover likely variations in behavior, but not so large that your time will be wasted. Hopefully, you will have at least a little bit of market data to use as a starting point. The marketing team and subject matter experts are the most helpful in planning, but other stakeholders may also have useful information. The stakeholder questions about customers and users (see Chapter 5) should yield the answers you need to get started.

In the rare case that your stakeholders can't at least give you educated guesses—such as in a brand-new startup—start with a focus group. Cast a broad recruiting net and ask the participants about demographics, skills, roles, tasks, and issues. (See Chapter 9 for more on focus groups.) The following sections explain the planning steps in detail; there is also a summary chart ...

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