Qualitative User Research

Learn how to conduct user interviews and on-site observations to guide your design process.

In this course, you'll equip yourself with the knowledge and confidence to take on research for human-centered design projects. In addition to practical tools and methods, we’ll explore thorny issues related to ethics and data privacy, helping you to build a robust research practice informed by respect and reciprocity.

course outcomes

  • Create a research scope for a human-centered design project.

  • Plan and carry out ethical in-depth user interviews and observations.

  • Navigate complexity related to equity, privacy, transparency, and user data in the research process.

  • Translate findings into user insights that can guide an HCD process.

  • Tell the story of your research.

Online self-paced
Start Date
Start anytime
6-8 hours

What you'll learn

  1. What to expect+

    • Course overview

    • Preparing to learn

    • Getting started checklist

  2. Intro to user research+

    • Why we research

    • Guiding principles

    • User research in HCD

    • A brief overview of methods

    • Ethics in user research

  3. Finding your focus+

    • Framing and scoping your research
  4. Interviewing+

    • Structuring an interview

    • Interview guides

    • Writing and asking questions

    • Team roles

    • Notetaking

    • Ethics spotlight

  5. Observation+

    • Where and how to pay attention

    • Ethics spotlight

    • Demonstration video

  6. Downloading data+

    • Preparing to download

    • Download activities

    • Demonstration video

  7. Synthesis+

    • Why data alone isn’t enough

    • Thematic grouping

    • Journey mapping

    • Crafting insight statements

    • Ethics spotlight

  8. Telling the story+

    • Why we need stories

    • What makes a compelling story

    • Framework for research storytelling

    • Choosing a format

  9. Building a research plan+

    • Research plan framework

    • Research plan examples

  10. Recruiting Participants+

    • Getting specific

    • Recruiting outreach methods

    • Recruiting with community partners

    • Ethics spotlight

  11. Managing user data+

    • Protecting PII

    • Getting informed consent

    • Keeping only the data you need

    • Restricting access to sensitive data

  12. Wrapping up+

    • Research prep checklist

    • Compile your research kit

    • Templates and tools

Enroll as a team

Learning is better as a team sport. Practica supports collaborative learning through paid cohorts: 6-month group learning experiences facilitated by Civilla staff. Together with your colleagues, you’ll participate in workshops, be guided through one or more Practica courses, get coaching from Civilla design experts, and make significant progress applying HCD to priority projects.

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