User Research Introduction Session

User Research Introduction Session

Level-set on user research best practices



Suggested Time

45-60 min


Core team

Why do it?

Continuous research helps ensure that we’re building something of value at each step. Needs and problems live with people, so in order to create value we need a deep understanding of how well we’re solving those problems. This session offers an overview of research best practices in order to align the team prior to the first stakeholder or user interviews they conduct.

When to do it?

Given the importance of research early in the project, this session is typically done as soon as possible after Kickoff in advance of any stakeholder interviews or exploratory user research.

What supplies are needed?

  • Whiteboard or digital version like Miro
  • Dry erase markers

How to Use this Method

Feel free to use this slide deck to help introduce your group to User Research.

Sample Agenda & Prompts

  1. Write the agenda on the whiteboard or shared digital workspace:

    • Types (10 min)
    • Roles (10 min)
    • Flow (10 min)
    • Dos & Don’ts (10 min)
    • Role Play (25 min)
  2. First, describe the three main types of research by drawing/showing a three part Venn diagram, complete with a squiggly line representing time beneath it, and explaining how they relate to one another.

    • Exploratory — what are the problems?
    • Validation — is this solution valuable?
    • Usability — is this solution easy to use?

    Research Workshop Types

  3. Next, describe the main roles involved in research, writing each on the board:


    • Lead Interviewer — facilitates interview
    • Note-taker(s) — ideally 1 primary & 1 secondary to help ensure good coverage


    • Co-Pilot — supports Lead Interviewer
    • Media Wrangler — handles recording
    • Transcriber — types up interview as it unfolds
  4. With roles covered, describe the general flow of research by breaking it into discrete steps:

    Recruit & Schedule

    • Pick days for research
    • Reach out to users
    • Schedule slots


    • Goals
    • Assumptions
    • Questions
    • Design artifacts (if necessary)

    Conduct Interviews

    • Facilitate!
    • Take notes in an appropriate manner (e.g. sticky notes, transcription, etc.) in voice of user, capturing sentiment using smiley faces
    • Record aspects of the session that matter (e.g. audio, video, etc.)

    Synthesize Findings

    • All types: group like comments across users to find trends
    • Usability only: create pass/fail table to quickly see which aspects of the design worked and which did not
    • See Research Synthesis for more information

    Tip: Drawing these four steps on the board showing a progression can be really helpful to visualize how they flow together

  5. Share biases to be aware of and key “dos” and “don’ts” when conducting research by printing out or projecting this User Research Dos & Don’ts Guide.

  6. Finally, spend the remaining time role playing to get a feel for what actual research will be like:

    Option 1: Pair Role Play

    • Break into pairs, giving each person a “Pause” card
    • Identify who will be playing each role (Interviewee, Interviewer)
    • Interviewer uses one of the team’s discussion guides to ask questions of Interviewee
    • Conduct the interview for 10 minutes, pausing whenever one of the pairs shows the “Pause” card to discuss specific feedback
    • Reflect on the experience using a plus/delta format

    Option 2: Group Role Play

    • Identify who will be playing each role (Interviewee, Note-takers, Interviewer)
    • Interviewer uses one of the team’s discussion guides to ask questions of Interviewee while Note-takers take notes that, to the extent possible, mimic “real” notes
    • Conduct the interview for 10 minutes
    • Reflect on the experience using a plus/delta format

Success/Expected Outcomes

You’ve succeeded when the team feels like they’re confident they can conduct research in a way that the team can garner usable information.

Facilitator Notes & Tips

You can make as many or as few visual aids ahead of time as you like to support this session, depending on your preference. It can be equally successful printing/hanging things you want to focus on as it is drawing them as you talk.

You can also use this slide deck (embedded above) for your sessions: User Research at Pivotal/Tanzu Labs .

If the team feels like they want more practice conducting research before they do it with actual users, don’t hesitate to schedule a follow-up session or two. Role playing can do wonders to prep people who haven’t done a lot of research before but are excited to learn how.

Read through and use the User Research Dos & Don’ts Guide.

Real World Examples

Research Workshop Example 1

Research Workshop Example 2

Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden

UX For Lean Startup by Eric Ries