User research principles

We identify user needs and motivations, enabling teams to validate product decisions and design better products and services.

By designing services which meet the needs and motivations of users, we deliver better value to the Co-op business, its colleagues, members, and customers.

Focus on what users do, not what they say they’d do

Observing users’ behaviour is the best indicator of what they will do in the future, and the gateway to understanding needs and motivations.

We do:

  • Create realistic situations and scenarios for users to interact with
  • Observe behaviour
  • Get out of the building, to where our users are
  • Document how users behave in response to something, or in a particular situation
  • Analyse how users do things (their tasks, jobs, and processes) to understand why users do what they do

We don’t:

  • Ask users if they like something - that’s not a way to understand if it is useful or valuable to them
  • Take what users say at face value

Do a little, often

Frequent research with users enables the team to iterate on a product and validate product decisions regularly, which can help promote a user centred culture.

We do:

  • research with users (such as interviews, observations, usability tests, surveys) once per sprint
  • research enough to give the team confidence in their decisions
  • look ahead to the next sprint and research questions that will help them make product decisions

We don’t: accept ‘it tested ok’ to be the end of iteration and improvement prioritise fieldwork over time to synthesise and analyse

Give teams the evidence to make better decisions

We research and test the team’s assumptions so that decisions so that decisions are based on evidence rather than guesses.

We do:

  • draw meaningful insight from research findings (drawing on other contexts and concepts)
  • use hypothesis-driven approaches to testing
  • critique our findings
  • focus on the critical questions for the team, in their sprint goals
  • accept sometimes we might get it wrong

We don’t:

  • present our assumptions as insights from user behaviour
  • keep research findings to ourselves
  • use research to validate our own opinions or those of our senior stakeholders
  • do research without clear, actionable goal(s)

Involve everyone in research

Giving teams and stakeholders opportunities to meet users in real situations, and see research is the best way to promote empathy and understanding of users needs.

We do:

  • discuss research plans as a team
  • invite everybody to observe or take part in research
  • encourage all team members to take part in observing research, and synthesising findings
  • answer research related questions from the team
  • facilitate shared understanding of the key learnings from user research
  • comment and challenge

We don’t:

  • work independently of the team’s needs
  • dictate the research plan or questions
  • use research to prove our own methods or assumptions are right

Promote accessibility for all through good usability

We champion making products and services that are usable across the spectrum of accessibility needs, because that means people can use what we’re building, and because it makes business sense.

We do:

  • actively recruit people who face access challenges
  • advocate for consideration in service design for people who face barriers
  • provide a secure and comfortable environment for them

We don’t:

  • take the path of least resistance to recruitment
  • assume ‘it’ll work for everyone’
  • assume what support a participant may require (for example, we don’t assume a deaf person signs)

Represent users faithfully

We speak truth to power and if users’ needs are not being met, we say so. This keeps the product teams and the business honest.

We do:

  • speak openly and honestly (and politely), no matter who we’re talking to
  • work to minimise bias
  • use quotes, audio and video (anonymously) so the voice of the user is as direct as possible
  • communicate the user voice as effectively as possible for stakeholders
  • fact check

We don’t:

  • skew or filter quotes or findings
  • only hear what we want to
  • name users specifically

Undertake the best research we can in any given situation

Sometimes we can’t do user research as we would like. In this instance doing some is better than not doing any.

We do:

  • provide support and advice to help teams designing products and services
  • compromise, in order to achieve an outcome that is better than what exists
  • look to evidence the benefits of user research through action, not just words
  • adapt to the limitations of the situation or method
  • caveat the limitations of our research

We don’t:

  • refuse to do research because the conditions aren’t as we would like
  • downplay the findings or insights if we have confidence in them
  • put the safety of user researchers or participants at risk
  • continue to undertake research if the insights are not valued by the team

Respect the privacy and integrity of the user

Our ability to perform our role depends on the trust we have with participants.

We do:

  • only work with users when we have their informed consent
  • make sure people understand the purpose of the research
  • reward people for their time with an appropriate incentive
  • work to make the participant feel comfortable, safe and secure
  • bear in mind the power dynamic between the researcher and the participant
  • remove all non-anonymised raw data after the end of a project life (or, no later than 12 months after collection)

We don’t:

  • share participants’ personal data with anyone
  • share any information that could identify people in the public realm
  • judge participants, their answers or views
  • report back on their performance to their teams or bosses