Study design: the key to effective user research

Study design: the key to effective user research

Study design: the key to effective user research

User research – research that gives you a deep and accurate understanding of the needs and wants of your users and potential users – is vital for consistently developing effective, attractive and successful products.

Designing a user research study that gets to the heart of what users really want and need can be complex. It’s not simply a matter of asking users what they want and like; all aspects of how a study is designed can influence its outcome.

Like many areas of design, the devil is in the detail. A badly designed study can blindly re-enforce what the development team were doing anyway or worse, push the project in the wrong direction, wasting time and money.

There are a huge range of effective user research methods to choose from, such as surveys, focus groups and co-design sessions. But designing a study isn’t just a matter of picking the right method and implementing it. While the selection of the correct methods is important, you also need to consider:

  • How many participants will take part?
  • How will you recruit these participants?
  • Do these participants represent users?
  • What questions will I ask?
  • What order will I ask questions in?

The list goes on…

Why is it important to consider all these details?  Basically, because humans are complex, socially motivated and imperfect. There are a wide range of psychological phenomena that influence what responses you’ll get from participants.  For example, ‘the Hawthorne Effect’ describes how the behaviour of people changes simply because they are aware that they are being observed. Even something as simple as the order in which you present questions can have an enormous effect on how participants respond.

So, when designing user studies it is important that you get advice from expert researchers who understand the influence psychology has on users to ensure you get the insights you need as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Get in contact if you’d like to talk about how Fowlam can help you get the most from user research. Our researchers, who have over twenty years of combined experience, have the expertise needed to design efficient, effective studies that give you accurate and actionable insights into the needs and wants of your users.


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