User research checklist

One of my favourite episodes of Desert Island Discs features the surgeon Atul Gawande. Atul pioneered the idea of introducing very simple surgery safety checklists to reduce human error when conducting surgical procedures. 

Research has shown that using a simple checklist can reduce surgery related deaths by up to a staggering 40% and complications by up to a third”.

So this all got me thinking about what sorts of checklists could be useful for my own work.

A while ago I considered what often goes wrong when conducting user research. Conducting user research involves lots of individual tasks so felt like an ideal topic to create a checklist for to help avoid some common pitfalls.

I’ve created it from the perspective of someone working in a consultancy so ignore the stuff about ‘clients’ & ‘briefs’ if that’s not your world. In addition I’ve added examples of things like kick off meeting agendas, tips for things to include in discussion guides and a typical report structure.

As this is my first draft, I’m bound to have missed something. My colleagues have kindly added their suggestions but please do add your suggestions as a comment below and I’ll iterate!

A handy checklist to help your user research run smoothly.

Download: User Research checklist (PDF)

James is responsible for leading user-centred design projects across all industry sectors, and also runs cxlabs. He has written two UX books, speaks regularly at international conferences, and co-founded UXBristol.