There are five questions you and/or your team should ask when setting up a new study. These questions will provide you with a foundation with which to think through the study and its many facets.
- What do we want to learn? (Objectives)
- How will we collect and analyze data? (Methods)
- What will we test? (Materials)
- With whom will we test? (Participants)
- What will we do with findings? (Application)
1. What do we want to learn?
This question is by far the most crucial question to ask when setting up a new study. The answer(s) to this question will help you and your team define the study’s objectives. Objectives are essentially a list of what the study aims to accomplish. Objectives are important as they set the scope and expectations of the study. By knowing what you want to learn upfront it will be a lot easier to answer the other four questions.
2. How will we collect and analyze data?
This question will help you outline your study’s methods. Methods are the means by which you will collect and analyze the data needed to answer what you want to learn. Methods can be thought of as tools in a toolbox. Here, what you’re trying to accomplish will determine the tool(s) you’ll need to accomplish the job.
3. What will we test?
This question will help you identify your study’s materials. Materials are the actual medium you will be testing such as a prototype, wireframe, low-fidelity comps, an existing website, etc. Materials can also be the instrument of your methods. For example, the digital or printed surveys/forms you would like filled out. In some case, you may not have materials. For example, ethnographic research (user research) focuses more on the behavior of a given demographic without respects to a given product or service. The purpose of this form of research is to identify the goals of the observed demographic and to understand the hurdles they face in achieving them. Note, this form of research is one of the best ways to fuel product innovation.
4. With whom will we test?
This question will help you identify your study’s participants.
5. What will we do with findings?
This question will help you with application – specifically, strategy and prioritization.