Wikimedia Foundation Design Research Methods

Build, test, and iterate on concept.

A/B Testing

Show different versions of a feature to two different groups of users, and collect data on how each version affects user behavior or satisfaction with the feature. For new products, use A/B tests to compare design alternatives. For existing products, compare a proposed redesign against the current version.


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.  


Deploy in-context question prompts that can be triggered to reveal to a certain number of users performing specific behaviors with your product. Focus on users’ immediate activities or (anticipated) needs: what they are trying to accomplish right now, whether a particular feature meets their needs.

Unmoderated Usability Test

Provide users with a set of instructions for using your product, and ask them to try performing these tasks on their own, as well as answer questions about their experience and about themselves. You can ask them to perform multiple unrelated tasks, or to perform a series of sequential steps in a single workflow.

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.

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.