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The first step is for your team to establish a solid research plan for your feedback program. Below is a checklist to get you started:

  • Identify the research objectives and business goals of the program. What are you trying to learn or evaluate, and why?
  • Determine your participant user groups. Which personas, segments, industries, or requirements do people need to match? How many do you need per group? This will become a screener to direct you to the right participants.
  • Draft research questions and choose appropriate methods.
  • Identify a rough time frame of when the program will start and end. Determine time expectations for client participants.
  • Assign clear roles within the project team. Discuss and answer questions like, “Who will secure clients for the program? Confirm agreements are in place? Run the kick-off meetings? Run the actual design sessions? Conduct the analysis? Report findings?” … and so on.
  • Decide where and how you will track program activities before you start. A central, online storage location helps the team find, reference, and share research artifacts.

Pro tips:

  • Download a research template.
  • When assigning roles, keep in mind the client contact should be skilled in communication, organization, and interpersonal relationships.
  • IBM’s Design Program Office recommends 5-8 users, total, from a variety of companies. However, this number will vary and should be tailored to the needs of your project and team.


  • You should create the research plan as early as possible once a project has kicked off and the team has started drafting Hills. As your Hills are being formed, the plan will help you determine the personas and types of research you want to conduct with end users. Research plans should be revisited and updated as projects progress.