Wikimedia Foundation Design Research Methods

Evaluate concepts against what was learned in “understand” against business needs, technical resources, and other constraints.

Semi-structured interview

Write out a list of questions, and ask them to one or more stakeholders. If something a participant says during the interview makes you think of a new question, ask it. If a question on your list turns out to be less relevant than you thought, skip it.

Cognitive walkthrough

Walk users through a mock-up, demo, or simple prototype that represents a new product or feature and ask for feedback. Describe the problem you are trying to solve and how your concept addresses that problem. Ask them to assess the validity of both the problem and the proposed solution. Use terms that the user can relate to.

Card Sorting

Ask users to group features, topics, concepts, etc. on index cards based on similarly. Analyze the groups and talk to the users to learn how they understand the relationships between items and groups. Use this information to inform the design of menus, navigation, and headings.


Create archetypes of users to inform product development. For each functionality or feature in your product, choose a primary persona to design and build for and secondary persona to represent important users who may be affected (positively or negatively) by the feature.  

Standard Survey

Ask a sample of current or potential users of your product to answer a series of questions to understanding their characteristics, behaviors, experiences, and opinions. Use a mix of fixed response and free response questions to gather both quantitative and qualitative data.

Prioritization Exercise

Work with a group of users to better understand which in a set of features is most important for them and why. You can provide them with a prepared list of features, or ask them to brainstorm and prioritize their own feature lists.

Moderated Usability Test

Design a set of tasks that reflect the way people use your product, or how you expect/want them to use it. Lead participants through tasks, observe whether they accomplish these tasks without assistance. Ask participants to think aloud so that you can learn their ‘mental model’ of product and tasks. Take notes; ask questions.

Participatory Design

Engage all stakeholders, especially end-users, as co-designers in every stage of the product design process, from problem definition to impact assessment, to identify needs, explore solutions, and evaluate outcomes.

Focus Group

Discuss, brainstorm, and prioritize needs and options with a group of participants (stakeholders or those you are building for). Explore people’s experience with precursor and competitor products, ask about existing workflows, and assess their receptivity to new features/concepts.

Heuristic Review

Quickly identify potential usability issues and make UX recommendations by evaluating a design against a set of heuristics or “best practices” gleaned from previous research on similar products. Assess and apply each heuristic recommendation according to its relevance to the goals, needs, and contexts of your target users.