User Research Plan

The roadmap to your research. It creates alignment and buy-in among team members. Helps you to stay focused and keeps the project team “on track”. Helps to justify budgets and positions funding agencies​.
Planning Method
Suggested Time

1 day sketching / + 2 days to consult partners and your team / + 2 days if you need to read in on single methods​

Level of UX Expertise

Medium to High​


User Research Plan template​


Project lead, consultation with all other stakeholders preferable, subject matter experts​

Must have
This method can be applied to all types of innovations.


User Research plan is meant to give an overview on the goals, scope and timeline of your research project and helps aligning everybody on the team. In other words, it answers the who, what, when, why and how of any research project.

The basic elements of a User Research Plan are:​

  • Objectives & problem statement of the User Research
  • Methodology & tools used
  • Team definition: Roles & responsibilities
  • Recruitment plan for testing and research
  • Concept to share with partners and participants
  • Timeline
  • Reporting/ results sharing plan ​

The plan will help you stay focused on your goals, avoid common research pitfalls (and unnecessary resource waste) and create buy-in from partners and other stakeholders you share the plan with. ​


    It is important to at least agree on the User Research Plan with all key stakeholders, even better if you can create it together with them.​


    A good User Research plan is extremely important to start good user research and should be developed in the planning stage of your program, even if you might have to revise the plan based on further insights or changed priorities.​

    Why it’s useful

    Saves you time and resources during the project​
    Helps allocate budgets and adjust timelines in the project design​
    Aligns your team on the shared goals

    Potential challenges

    Needs some time to prepare if done with a larger group​


    Is this for you?

    Get step-by-step guidance, expert tips and best practice examples for building a helpful User Research Plan

    Emmanuel Zapata - Digital Agriculture and HCD, Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT

    “An effective way to define clear objectives, methods, and outcomes in the projects I coordinate is to develop user research plans. In my experience, this has helped Alliance researchers and partner institutions in Guatemala and Honduras to share a clear vision of what is being sought through user research.”
    Image by Emmanuel Zapata
    Stories from the field

    Mariette McCampbell - Independent Ux Researcher

    “Once you know why you want to conduct user research, on which users you want to focus, how you will go about the research, and who will collect and interpret the data, you can start with the logistical planning. Make sure that you include time and budget for iterations to be able to act on your learnings.”
    Image by Mariette McCampbell
    Why researchers found this useful

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