Hit the Ground Running


This was another very actionable insight that I gleaned from the book QE. Whether your research project is a few days, or involves tracking users over several years, it is imperative for researchers to get going. Spending too much time at the beginning limits the time you have to spend in the field. After your plan is developed, give yourself a goal to accomplish 3 key research tasks in your first 3 weeks in the field. One of the tools that may help to organize your research is a user research database. This can take on many formats but I personally have found spreadsheets to be both lightweight and effective in this regard. On a new research project, I would organize a user research workbook (one page per user) with sheets to include things like user characteristics, preferences, dislikes, tasks and any answers to specific questions. Documenting and organizing each user from the beginning is helpful, it’s very painful to do field work and then spend days on end trying to decode your notes well after the fact. As your research progresses, you can fine-tune the database to add more details or organize the details in a way that will help to uncover patterns or simplify the process of aggregating and analyzing your data.