Rolling research is an on-going, regularly scheduled research sessions directed to
establish answers to usability questions and concerns. This type of research is more
efficient compared to the conventional session-by-session research due to its
predetermined schedule, using the same basic methods in every session.

Another good thing about the rolling research program is it can be done weekly,
monthly, or anywhere in between to get a series of answers that will greatly help in
shedding light on our usability questions and study. And since this type of research is limited to evaluative questions only, you can set up the research session within a week or two.

Additionally, aside from having the chance to frequently gather feedback from
customers, rolling research can also provide new and important insights on subjects
that have not been prioritized yet or topics that have not given attention at all.

Here at Userpeek, we also gained a lot of study insights from our rolling research
sessions, which greatly helped in the product development across our teams. For
example, our advanced remote usability testing solution was tested several times by our developers and product users.

The repeated sessions enabled us to make usability improvements both to the admin and end-users, along with improvements in the testing process that catered to the better usability needs of our consumers. And because this is simply a lightweight process of submitting our product for testing, we have received feedback early in the design process that helped us save time and money.


The benefits of rolling research sessions


Saves time, money, and resources

As mentioned previously, since this requires an easier set-up, rolling research is an
efficient process that saves you time, cost, and resources in the long run.

To start the rolling research process, you just need to establish the cadence,
demographic, research availability, and schedule sessions. Once you have done all
these, you can just keep everything on the calendar and expect only minimal effort and cost on the side. If everything is scheduled, the team is given a deadline that they can work on to ensure that everyone is on track.


Constant feedback from users that helps support fast product development

The good thing about a regular schedule is it gives you consistent user feedback on an existing stimulus, which helps in speeding up the product development stage. As soon as the research team has something that they need for their usability questions and concerns, they can easily make adjustments and further tests and study the product.

Since this type of research does not need any further set-up and is pre-scheduled and organized, you should expect minimal delays. Furthermore, if the research team is working on smaller, design decisions, they can utilize the rolling research program
where they normally would not.


Helps in delivering the research findings to stakeholders in the long run

The rolling research method helps in the spread-out of the delivery of the research
findings to stakeholders, which creates a consistent research-centric atmosphere. It
prevents stakeholders from the information overload of large research findings and
reports, as you can update stakeholders every time about where you are at in your
research.


Scenarios where effective rolling research program best fits the UX researcher team

UX Team


It works well on an agile development cycle

If you have a fast-moving product research team, then rolling research can fit well with your schedule. The easy set-up can help your team build the research into their design process more efficiently.

In UX, it is a challenge to prioritize the research with an on-going schedule. Having pre-scheduled sessions can help teams get timely feedback as they move along. This saves the team some amount of time in planning, executing, and reflecting on research studies.


It helps clear backlogs

Quite often, UX researchers have more research requests than time. We have worked with many clients who had so many backlogs or research requests. Most of them had too many things to test but had no time to invest in research studies. This results in a lot of significant backlogs.

We have helped clients clear their research requests by creating rolling programs for
them. This method systematized and structured their schedules and workflows. Not only did they complete their research studies, the rolling programs that we’ve designed also increased their desire and value for research, with a significant increase in participation by their teams and leaders.


It helps make room for small and larger projects

Rolling research helps test small tactical pieces and for larger, more in-depth projects as well. Since it is quite quick and easy to invest and set-up a rolling research program for small scale project testing, this leaves you with more time in investing in a large-scale testing project as well.

Rolling programs can clear any backlogs and ensure that every team can handle less of the set-up process for small research, and give more capacity for the team to work on bigger research projects.


It can support multiple teams

Rolling programs can support various UX teams simultaneously. A specific example is the weekly schedule research that can allow different teams to test their designs weekly with no delay.

Additionally, rolling research allows multiple teams to run multiple tests in one session. For example, it is possible for a specific team to quickly gather user feedback on a small UX design, which does not warrant a full research session. It allows smaller questions to be answered quickly without the need to run an entire session. This ensures things that wouldn’t normally get tested but still gets user attention and feedback during the research process.


Tips to ensure an effective rolling research program

Assess and evaluate first before running the research

Remember, not all project types can be used in a rolling research session. The best
projects for this kind of research are typically the evaluative or formative work processes like usability testing and product walkthroughs.

Schedule in advance

As much as you can schedule in advance your participants, book a lab or testing room sessions, schedule the designs and researchers assigned to run the sessions, and update the calendar invites accordingly.

Get the right people involved

It always takes more than one person to run a research session. Even in the rolling
research set-up, it is important to get the entire team to work together. Gather the right people to handle the different tasks of research.

Plan, design, and create templates for all needed documents

Templatizing the key documents such as tracking sheets, schedule sessions, and
guidelines can help you get more organized and move faster.
Clear questions and demographics

This is important before running rolling research. Make sure that your questions are
clear, simple, and relevant. Also, make sure that your demographics are consistent in
each session. This will save you from any additional work in terms of recruiting
participants and altering your interview questions.

Plan a contingency strategy

The downside of rolling research is there will be changes in schedules and availability. This change can occur in advance or at the very last minute. On top of this, there may be some technical problems along the way that can cancel your whole research session.

You must have a contingency plan when these things occur or else you may lose time and money from canceled sessions and booked, unused lab rooms.

Some examples of contingencies are back-up plans for canceled projects, how to
rescheduled participants, or booking additional participants as a back-up.

Just keep it simple

To maximize your time in research, you can simplify things whenever you can. Like for example, you can cut the screening session of your participants by just recruiting
subjects based on the people who are familiar with your product. You do not have to
place so many factors to fit your ideal customer as long as you have participants who are familiar or have experience in using the product, then they are a good fit.

Ensure active participation from stakeholders, designer, and researchers

Bring these people on board and block their calendars in advance to ensure active
participation. Ensure that everyone is actively involved and that everyone is responsible for the outcome of the project.

Manage your expectations

You should already set your expectations on timelines for your deliverables before
running the research. You should already have an idea of how the process will go so
you can also schedule everything and everyone on the calendar. You can already set
and plan how you share your findings, how your team assesses these, and how they
share and prioritize information to stakeholders. By placing these things on schedule, you can expect to run a smoother rolling research session.


To conclude

Setting up a rolling research program is easier and faster as compared to other kinds of research programs. In addition to this, scaling this type of research is also easier.
However, just like any other research sessions, the rolling research also requires
thorough planning.

We have discussed the benefits of running rolling research, which includes the
following:

● saves time, money, and resources
● provides constant user feedback that results in faster UX design development
● provides efficient research findings delivery to stakeholders over time

We have also covered how UX experts can efficiently utilize the rolling research
method in the following scenarios:

● works well in an agile development cycle
● it helps clear backlogs
● It helps run small and larger projects at the same time
● it supports multiple teams

And lastly, we have covered several tips in running an effective rolling research session. It includes:

● assessing and evaluating everything before running the research
● advance scheduling
● getting the right people involved
● planning, designing, and creating templates for all needed documents
● clearing all questions and demographics needed for research
● planning a contingency plan
● keeping things simple
● ensuring active participation from stakeholders, designer, and researchers
● managing expectations

Rolling research is an efficient research method for UX experts. Aside from being
efficient and fast, the goal of setting up this type of research is to enable everyone on the team to actively participate, to build a product that they believe in, and to help
customers have a good and lasting user experience of the product.

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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