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Framework User Research Toolkit


3 - On the Day

Getting Consent

Whenever doing user research you must get the participant’s consent, which means getting a record from them to show they understand the research and agree to take part.

This will ensure you're complying with data protection, but also that your users understand what they're participating in, which will hopefully ensure you get the most out of your session.

Gov.uk recommend that you provide participants with an 'information sheet' a document that gives them the information they need to give their informed consent, and tells them about their rights. Here you can find a downloadable copy of our information sheet. This is the minimum information you should include, but you may add additional information appropriate to your session.

You should give users the information sheet prior to conducting the research.

Recording the session

If you are only taking notes during the session there will be various elements you should record. Depending on the number of participants during your session, the type of user research, and the number of staff you have you may want to allocate roles to each member of staff or create note taking template sheets. Some key areas it's important to record are:

  • Actions/tasks - exactly what does the users say or do. This should be recorded as verbatim as possible, with no sway on emotions or personal interpretation. Ways this could be noted is: When asked ... user 1 responded '...' or user 1 clicked here, then here.
  • Feelings - noting how a certain task or question made a user feel can help you to improve the user experience if you consider these emotions in your design. Things to note are their motivations, reactions, fears and frustrations.
  • Environment - taking note of the users surrounding environment is helpful when shadowing, observing or user testing in a public space or the users home. Is the area busy, are there lots of distractions, what time of day is it - these are all things that could impact how the user is feeling. You should reflect on whether the service you are designing could be used in all environments and how this affects your research.
  • How Might We - if you are facilitating something like a focus group it can be useful to have someone there to note down 'how might we' statements. This is where the user mentions some sort or barrier, issue or negative connotation they have faced or think they would face. Instead of noting it as a problem you see it as an opportunity and write as many how might we statements as possible.

Facilitating the session

If you are facilitating or have asked someone to be the facilitator of the user research session this role is crucial to:

  • Timekeeping - ensure tasks and the overall session do not overrun so there is the right level of focus on all the tasks.
  • Keeping focus - ensure all users stay on the right topic during conversations, so enough time is spent on the important things. Having something like a comments box or parked items board helps users to feel like they've voiced what they wanted to say, but still allowing the session to stay on task.
  • Everyone inputs - when facilitating a group session it's important the feedback is representative of everyone in the room. Gov.uk list some different tools you can use to help ensure everyone contributes.

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