What people say they do does not always match up with what they actually do. Observing users’ behaviors firsthand can provide
insights they can’t (or won’t) express through conversations alone.

Serving suggestion

  • Minimum 5 participants, right-sized for the project
  • 1-4 hours per participant
  • In-person, contextual


Pairs well with

  • Ethnographic Research


Understand user behaviors, attitudes & needs

View recipes

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How to do it:

  • Decide on research questions, goals, and methodology.
  • Recruit, schedule, and incentivize participants.
  • Determine observation method (shadow/fly on the wall).
  • Design a method for capturing behaviors and environments.
  • Conduct observations.
  • Document with notes, photos, and audio/video.
  • Summarize findings to your team.

Additional resources

How To Conduct User Observations – Interaction Design Foundation

Observing users interacting with a product can be a great way to understand the usability of a product and to some extent the overall user experience. 

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The Role of Observation in UX Research – UX Matters

Observation provides the most accurate information about people, their tasks, and their needs.

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Shadowing in User Research – Do You See What They See? – Interaction Design Foundation

Shadowing is one technique that can reveal deep insights into user’s existing behaviors within their natural environment.

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