A Strategic User Research Process That Works

22.09.2023 / Christoph Erle In today's fast-paced and complex business environment, strategic user research is not just beneficial, it's essential. But how do you tackle a user research process and seamlessly integrate it with your project? Our goal here is to make it workable within the typical constraints of project structures. We'll dive into four key areas: process structure, methods, interviews, and infrastructure.

In general, we'd say there are two distinct purposes for a user research process: confirming hypotheses about a product or prototype, which often focuses on the technology first, as seen in usability tests. This approach, while common, tends to reinforce the status quo, making it challenging to think beyond our current framework.

The second approach, which we greatly prefer, shifts the focus from technology to people. We examine their behaviors, contexts, goals, and challenges to generate new ideas and identify opportunities for innovation. This style of user research is more explorative and strategic, allowing us to detach from our existing business models and products to truly understand what people need from us. In this blog post, we will demonstrate how to integrate a strategic user research process into your projects that achieves precisely this.

You should apply user research in the beginning of your project

In our most recent post, we discussed the fuzzy front end of innovation, highlighting how user research effectively untangles complexity and provides direction. This is precisely why, in our opinion, a user research process is essential at the beginning of a project, whether dealing with a mature product or an intriguing idea. There are two main reasons for this...

User research helps reduce cost and risk by giving scope and direction

User research helps discover purpose, vision and amazing ideas

A Recipe for Strategic User Research: Process, Methods, Interviews, Infrastructure

1. Mapping Out the Process and Defining Goals

Effective research starts with thorough preparation, aligning closely with your project's overall planning. In a kickoff meeting with all key players, outline the purpose and goals of your research. Determine the deliverables, the participants, and stakeholder management (a topic so vast it deserves its own post).

2. Defining Methods and Deliverables

Choose methods based on your project's purpose and requirements, ensuring you deliver meaningful results. Create a toolchain that aligns with your goals and fits your time and budget constraints.

3. Conducting Integrated Interviews

High-quality interviews require a solid interviewer guide and well-crafted questions. The trick is to connect questions to your chosen methods and elicit useful answers without asking direct, expert-level questions.

4. Building an Effective Infrastructure

Ensure your process includes informed consent detailing the research's purpose, data usage, participant rights, and privacy measures. Use a database or spreadsheet to categorize and analyze interview statements, making them ready for collaboration workshops.


Implementing a strategic user research process is a nuanced but rewarding endeavor. It requires careful planning, method selection, skilled interviewing, and robust infrastructure. By following these guidelines, you can harness the power of user research to drive innovation and success in your projects.