Research user experience (UX)


Before you begin

We’ve written this How-to guide for best practice UX research for the novice. This guide is one of a set of How-to guides as part of the WoVG Digital Standards Framework.

We think the quickest way for you to learn how to research UX is simply to do it. Therefore, while this How-to guide is short, it has lots of templates to complete.

Carefully work through these and analyse your findings. Then apply your findings to your Beta version, and then test it to see if you got it right. In the long run, this approach will save you time, because substantial reworking becomes unnecessary.

What user experience (UX) is

The term ‘user experience’ (also known as UX) describes the set of thoughts and feelings a person has while using a website, product or service online. To get a deeper understanding of what a person’s experience is (their thoughts and feelings about using a product online) we do UX research.

UX research simply looks for, and documents what users need, but preferably in the planning of a project so we can avoid waste and rework and build features that people need. This might apply to an entire website or just a single online transaction.

The following statement is central to capturing both the compelling and not so compelling statements about what your users need to do:

’As a...I need to…so that I can...’

Example 1: As a newcomer to UX, I need to find out what problems our users have so that I can prioritise useful, beneficial and satisfying features and functions we can implement.

Example 2: As a customer, I need to be able to select a payment method, so that I can pay using my preferred method.


Once you have some idea of your users’ needs, you can decide which needs are more important (also referred in UX as ‘compelling), and which are less important. Best practice for WoVG is to balance your users’ needs with what's achievable and what will deliver the most benefit.

When you test your Beta work (the version before public release), ask these five simple questions to record your user’s experiences. They will help you make sure your reporting is insightful, practical and clear.

  • What happened? For example: I couldn’t complete the transaction.
  • Why did it happen? For example: The transaction only allowed me to pay with a credit card.
  • How important was it? For example: ’High, I had to cancel my transaction because I don’t have a credit card yet. I will have to ask my parents to complete the transaction for me.’ (Hermione, UX actual research participant)
  • What should we do instead? For example: Allow me to select from a range of payment methods.
  • How will this benefit the user? For example: Completing the transaction online would be quicker, smoother, less frustrating experience, less anxiety about an abandoned transaction.

Why do user experience research?

Many websites and online services (and not just those run by government) don’t know what their users actually need or want. This happens because they’re driven to deliver a service from their point of view, and use untested assumptions about what their users really want from their online experience. This gap is usually discovered after release, and someone takes a good look at the analytics, or speaks to users and finds they’re less than satisfied.

Create products and services that matter to people

UX research can engage Victorian citizens in the ideation, design and development of digital products and services. For example, get feedback on a new website by releasing a Beta version.

Gather important insights

UX research produces important insights unavailable any other way. For example, if the information provided is useful to them and how they feel when reading it.

Prioritise your effort

UX can help you sensibly prioritise what to build, that is, the features you can be confident users will value the most, something you can realistically achieve and is of lasting utility.

Cut development costs

Consulting with users early helps to avoid waste and rework. If a concept isn’t working effectively, you can find out early before investing time and energy in design and development.

Learn and continually improve

Gathering and sharing lessons learnt (based on the behaviours you’ve observed)is an effective way for government to find ways to improve.

What does the Victorian Government recommend?

All Victorian Government online services should aim to provide a high-quality of user experience. To achieve this, all new online products and services should undergo user experience research before and after release.

WoVG now recommends you apply the 12 Design Principles to all new and refreshed digital services -refer to Information Technology Strategy Victorian Government 2016–2020 (page 20).

The outcomes of your UX research should produce an online experience that supports all 12 principles.

What standards must be met?


Comply with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, and only collect information you’re legally entitled to collect. You’ll need to craft and publish a privacy ‘collection notice’ (refer to the How-to guide, How to manage privacy or the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner website).

If your digital presence collects personal information, then the physical location of the servers where it’s stored must have the same level of legal protection for private data as we offer citizens in Victoria.


To comply with the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Disability Discrimination Act, and the WoVG standard ‘Conform to Level AA of version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)’, your digital presence must comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 2.0 (WCAG) AA standard.

If your audience is primarily people with a disability (for example, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) clients), your site must pass the test for the AAA standard. Refer to the How-to guide, How to make websites and content accessible.

Understanding UX research

The professional UX practitioner community follows the four stages we outline here and accepts them as best practice. Each stage involves considerable preparation.

You can also increase your understanding of UX with these excellent primers:

Stage 1: Planning your UX research

Before you start your research, reach an agreement with your key internal stakeholders on:

Research objectives

Setting research objectives helps you define what your research needs to achieve.

UX Research Objectives Procedure UX Research Objectives ProcedureDOC (174.67 KB)

Research method

You need to choose the most appropriate method for your research.

UX Research Methods Procedure UX Research Methods ProcedureDOC (232.36 KB)

Recruitment specification

A recruitment specification will help you establish who you need to get involved in the research.

UX Research Recuitment Checklist UX Research Recuitment ChecklistDOC (159.19 KB)

Research plan

Plan how your research will run to help predict challenges and keep your research on track.

UX Research Planning Checklist UX Research Planning ChecklistDOC (156.25 KB)

Stage 2: Conducting your research


Impartial facilitation is essential to ensure that your participants can contribute comfortably.

UX Research Facilitation Procedure UX Research Facilitation ProcedureDOC (163.64 KB)


Incentives can help you find research participants. You should keep a record of the payments you make to your participants.

UX Research Incentive Form UX Research Incentive FormDOC (159.63 KB)


Before you can record your research you need to get your participants’ consent.

UX Research Consent Form UX Research Consent FormDOC (163.62 KB)


You must respect your participants’ privacy and de-personalise their data. For more information see the How-to guide: How to manage online records and the How-to guide: How to manage privacy .

Stage 3: Analysing your research findings

Calculate results

Analyse the extent to which users are likely to be able to complete tasks. This calculator will help you estimate where your service sits on the system usability scale (SUS), that is, how usable it is.

WoVG Digital Standards Framework - UX Research Results Calculator WoVG Digital Standards Framework - UX Research Results CalculatorEXCEL (263.62 KB)

Compare your findings against your research plan

Analyse the extent to which your observations answer the key research questions in your research planning checklist.

Stage 4: Communicating your findings

Write a report

After you analyse what happened, record and communicate your findings. Writing a report on what you learnt preserves new knowledge in a sharable way.

UX Research Reporting Procedure UX Research Reporting ProcedureDOC (168.86 KB) UX Research Reporting Checklist UX Research Reporting ChecklistDOC (161.34 KB)

Share your research

If it’s not commercially sensitive, share with your community of practice and interested parties about your research. We can all learn from what you found out. A great way to do this is to share your report in the WoVG Digital Group on Yammer (VPS access only). Sharing enables WoVG to benefit from your findings, reduces repetition and duplication of the same research.

Reading shared examples is also a great way to find a reporting style that suits your research activity



User Experience


Whole of Victorian Government


System Usability Scale: a 10 item questionnaire to reliably measure the usability of your product. A score of above 68 is considered above average. SUS.


Department of Premier and Cabinet


Department of Justice and Regulation

Related How-to guides

How to manage privacy

How to manage online records

Join the conversation on digital

Get advice and share your insights about this topic with other digital practitioners on the WoVG Digital Group on Yammer (VPS access only).

Can’t access Yammer? Contact us by email: (We may post your comment on Yammer for general discussion. Please tell us if that’s not OK.)

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Document control information. This How-to guide is also part of a set of internal documents for Department of Justice and Regulation: User Research How-to guide CD/16/412448, User Experience and Information Architecture Specialist.