User Research

Use of immersive techniques like interviews, observation and co-creation as well as gathering data, legal and process information to better understand unmet needs of community members or have actionable case information at hand.

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Immersive and research techniques can help identify needs are a complement or alternative to community engagement, offering at times deeper insights than residents or constituents might be able to articulate.

Further, rigorous practice can deliver accurate case files to help better tailor and solve needs of people, families or groups.


Swindon Council created LIFE as a new approach to stop the cycle of crisis for a small number of families that fall through the social services net. In the development phase, the team spent 8 weeks experiencing the families’ lived realities and made a study of the frontline workers involved with these families. They found, for example, that 74% of worker’s time was spent on admin and just 14% on working with families. Neither the frontline workers nor the families felt content or empowered in this system. LIFE took these findings to provide a new service co-located in their estate and offered by a team selected by families now empowered to participate in coordinating services they receive.

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User research plan

Establish the purpose of your user research activity, identifying target groups and desired outcomes. Be mindful of the difference between a one-off deep-dive and ongoing data gathering. For example, you may need weekly data on  homeless people and a quarterly observation of transport and care providers serving to improve system behaviors.


Identify the most suitable places, methods and tools you will use to achieve the desired outcomes. Be mindful that immersive techniques are also influenced by the observer who will have a presence but also a reporting bias.

Resource needs & partnerships

What financial and other resources and assets will you need to accomplish this task and are there smart ways to share efforts with partners?

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