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Conducting user experience (UX) research can seem like a daunting task. It involves a lot of factors, not all of which are under your control. The process is even more challenging if you don’t create a plan before you start your study.

However, with a step-by-step UX research plan, you can streamline your efforts effectively.

In this comprehensive guide, we will show you how to create a robust UX research plan that ensures your product provides an optimal user experience.

Table of contents

What is a UX research plan?

A user experience research plan is a strategic document that outlines the approach and details of your UX research project. 

It serves as a roadmap for the research process, detailing the why, what, when, where, who, and how of the research project.

By providing a clear framework, the plan will keep everyone, including researchers and relevant stakeholders, on the same page.

For your research plan to work, you’ll really need to get down to the nitty-gritty of the process, including the specific tools and methodologies you will use, and how you will recruit participants

If you plan to use surveys as part of your data collection, we have a large library of templates, including the universal NPS survey:

What are the benefits of a UX research plan?

A UX research plan offers several benefits, both to the research process and to the overall product development cycle. Here are some of the key perks.

Clear objectives

Creating a UX research plan will help you establish clear objectives for what the research aims to achieve. This gives direction to the research process and ensures that all team members understand the purpose of the research.

Better resource management

By listing the resources you will need to carry out UX research, including people, time, and budget, your UX research plan will help you achieve more effective resource management. It will also help you make sure the research is feasible and can be carried out within the available resources.

Enhanced collaboration

A UX research plan serves as a shared reference point for all team members, ensuring everyone involved understands their role and responsibilities, the research objectives, and the methods to be used.

Focused data collection

A research plan will help you focus your data collection efforts by defining the research questions and the most appropriate methods to answer them. This leads to more targeted, relevant, and useful data.

Risk reduction

By identifying potential challenges and obstacles early in the process, a UX research plan can help you mitigate risks and allows for contingency planning.

Actionable insights

A well-structured research plan leads to more reliable and valid findings, which in turn provide more actionable insights. These insights can directly inform design decisions and strategy, ultimately leading to a more user-friendly product.

Accountability and transparency

A UX research plan creates accountability for the research process and outcomes. It also promotes transparency by documenting the research approach, which you can share with stakeholders, review, and refine over time.

Documentation for future reference

Your UX research plan also serves as a valuable record of the research process. You can refer back to it in the future when you conduct similar research or when you need to understand the reasoning behind certain design decisions.

How to write a UX research plan

Now that you know why you should create a UX research plan, let’s discuss how you can go about it step by step.

Step 1: Define your UX research goals

The first step is to define your research goals. What do you want to achieve with your research? Your goals might range from understanding user behavior and identifying user needs to evaluating the usability of a product, depending on your development and business objectives. 

Step 2: Formulate your UX research questions

Your UX research questions should derive from your goals defined in the previous step and guide your investigation. They must be specific and focused to direct your research. For example, if your goal is to understand user behavior, your research questions might include "What tasks are users trying to complete using our product?" or "How do users interact with our product?"

Step 3: Choose your UX research methods

The next step is to decide on the research methods you'll use to answer your research questions. The choice of method will depend on the type of data you need (quantitative or qualitative), your research questions, and your resources. Alongside the tools, it’s also a good idea to define the UX metrics and KPIs you will use.

Some of the common methods include:

  • user interviews
  • surveys
  • usability testing
  • A/B testing
  • field studies
  • focus groups

Step 4: Identify your participants

When identifying your UX research participants, analyze your target user base. 

Consider factors such as demographic characteristics, their level of experience with your product, and familiarity with the type of product or service you offer.

Step 5: Develop your research tools

This step involves creating the tools and resources you'll use for data collection, such as survey questions, interview scripts, or tasks for usability tests. 

If you plan to run surveys, it’s a good idea to use a tool that will automate the entire process for you. With Survicate, you have access to 125+ templates you can use right away, and get a detailed analysis of the results:

NPS survey results in Survicate

Step 6: Plan your logistics

At this point, you'll need to plan the logistical aspects of your research, such as how and when you'll conduct your research sessions, how you'll recruit participants, and how you'll manage and store your data. Planning ahead at this stage might save you plenty of valuable time when you start your research project.

Step 7: Review and refine

Once you’ve run your UX research project and analyzed the results, it’s time to go back to your research plan. 

Take some time to review the process and identify any areas that could be improved in future research. This will help you refine your research skills and make your next UX research plan even more effective. 

At this point, you might learn that some of the steps in your plan were not necessary, while others were missing. Remember that the goal of a UX research plan is to provide a clear roadmap for your research, but it will invariably change with each and every project you run. So, be ready to make adjustments or redesign it completely next time you get ready to run a UX research study.

Collect feedback at every point of the user journey with surveys

A well-crafted UX research plan allows you to clarify your research goals, align your team, decide on the most suitable methodologies, manage resources effectively, and ultimately guide your product toward success.

An important part of the plan is selecting the best and most relevant tools. Surveys are a crucial element of any UX research, and the right survey tool will integrate seamlessly with any other tools you might be using. 

With Survicate, you can integrate your survey software natively with a wide range of third-party tools, including Slack, HubSpot, and Intercom. What’s more, the tool automates response collection and analysis, so you can focus on other aspects of your projects. Sign up for our 10-day free trial and see how Survicate can complement your UX research tool stack today.