Help! I Don’t Know What Type of User Research To Do (Part 1)

Get guidance on which user research method will best meet your needs with this online tool

Cheryl Paulsen
SEEK blog


This article is part one of a two part series. Read part two here.

In UX research, the method you choose can be just as important as the questions you ask. How, when, and where you ask your questions can have a big impact on the insights you learn. Imagine running a survey when what you really need is contextual enquiry, or conducting user interviews when what you really need is a card sort. Not only can you waste time and effort, you can miss out on important learnings from your users.

The challenge

At SEEK, we really value our time with users. We see clear benefits from regular touch points with customers, and the hunger for ever more research is spreading across our organisation. Many of our product teams are embracing continuous discovery and dual-track principles. Many of our designers are keen to ramp up and increase their research capability. And it’s not just designers running research – Product Managers, Business Analysts, and Developers are all getting their hands into research.

But choosing the right research method isn’t always easy, for multiple reasons. For starters, it’s easy to forget about all the methods out there when you’re caught in the hustle and bustle of design life. Likewise, it’s just as easy to slip into the safe habit of relying on one or two “tried and tested” methods that you feel comfortable with. And let’s not forget our cross-functional partners; for many of them, our user research methods are new territory.

In the picture below are 20 of the most common user research methods visualised by Christian Rohrer. You can see the complexity of the landscape. Different methods yield different learnings and are therefore better suited for specific circumstances. Should I choose an attitudinal study or behavioural? Qualitative or quantitative? Remote? Contextual? Moderated? Unmoderated?… the list goes on.

The solution

These challenges have been on the minds of myself and some of my fellow SEEKers for some time. We agreed that we would benefit from having a resource available to aid us in this space.

So I got to thinking about how I could help UX’ers and non-UX’ers alike select an appropriate user research method, and what that might look like. After many discussions and hours spent, I’m ready to share the beta tool with you. Allow me to present… Recommend-a-Method! (now called Rubik)

The idea is simple enough, you answer a few yes / no questions and receive a research method recommendation based on your responses. Give it a try, I’d love your feedback!

How to use the tool

Start by selecting one of the three buckets, based on what you’d like to learn in your research. These are loosely correlated to the design stages 1) Discover & Define, 2) Design & Deliver, and 3) Measure & Learn. Next you’ll be presented with a series of yes / no questions. The purpose here is to uncover what you already know about your users, and what you’d like to learn. A few clicks later and you’ll have a recommendation!

Keep in mind that this tool shouldn’t override your own thinking and expertise. There are always going to be weird and wonderful circumstances that call for special research considerations, and it won’t necessarily cater to those scenarios. What Recommend-a-Method can do is guide you towards a good research option based on what you want to learn from your users.

What’s next

The concept is still in its early days and I’m keen to evolve it further. With the help of some awesome UX folks at SEEK, we’ve started adding onto the tool with the goal of making it a one-stop research shop. Stay tuned!

Further reading

If you’re new to user research or want a refresher on the basics, I highly recommend Just Enough Research by Erika Hall.


Big thanks to these folks for their help getting Recommend-a-Method this far!
Mimi Turner
Rob Scherer
Cam Rogers
Caylie Panuccio
Chris Riley

Feeling festive?

Check out the UXMas edition of Recommend-a-Method :)



Cheryl Paulsen
SEEK blog

Product Designer with a passion for human behaviour.