User research means finding out what people are really trying to do, and the real problems they experience trying to get something done. This can involve some or all of the following activities:
- interviewing people about how they use a product or service
- watching how users work through a given task, ideally at their workplace
- inviting users to take part in a focus group
- using analytics to find out what users do on a website
- commissioning user research on a sample of citizens
Unless you have a clear idea of who your users are you should research with a diverse range of users with a mix of ages and backgrounds. You should also consider how to include people who need help using computers or other digital services.
Always ask for consent when doing user research and be clear on how you will use people’s data. Where possible hire a professional user researcher to ensure research is carried out responsibly.
Once you have some research you can look for patterns in user behaviour and, in particular, any frustrations users have. This will help you write appropriate outcomes for your procurement based on valid needs.