Set Up Research Lab for User Research

Always a hassle to set up research lab for your usability testing, focus group or interview? Follow this complete checklist and fret not!

Any forms of qualitative research involving users such as usability testing, focus group discussion or in-depth interview will require you to set up research lab. A well-prepared research lab will ensure a smooth process during the research. Moreover, it will save you the trouble of having to run another lab session. Run through the checklist below to see whether you have everything ready.


Choosing The Correct Venue

If you are tight on budget, you can just use turn your company’s facility into a research lab. It is perfectly okay as long as your research is not brand-blind or sponsor-blind.

For an individual usability testing or in-depth interview, just a small room with a table big enough to accommodate a laptop and card sorting activities is more than enough. However, for a focus group discussion or group-based card sorting activities, always make sure that the room is big enough! The room needs to have a big table to allow multiple activity configurations. On top of this, it should be spacious enough to allow the researchers to move around during the research.

Convert a conference room into an ideal set up of research lab for user research
Convert a conference room into an ideal set up of research lab for user research


If you have more budget or you would like to stay brand-blind, rent a marketing facility with a one-way mirror. A one-way mirror viewing facility is usually equipped with audio visual recording facility and an observation room. Therefore, you will save a lot of time to set up research lab.

Sometimes, a good one-way mirror viewing facility with good location and affordable price is not easy to find. Under such circumstances, consider renting a service office with conference room! Service office is usually centrally located with professional receptionist leaving the participants a good impression. Regus is a reliable service office provider you may consider. They have service office in most of the major cities around the world.

Using Co-working Space as Research Lab

Another alternative to service office is meeting room at co-working space. Some companies have strong preference to conduct user research at co-working space due to its cosy environment. During a qualitative research, the goal is to elicit as much information as possible from the participants. In order to do so, the researchers will need to put the participants at ease and gain trust and confidence from the participants. A co-working space’s relaxing and non-corporate like environment is what it takes to do so!

Next, after you have decided on the venue, proceed to recruit participants. Read here for participant recruitment strategies and tips!



Set Up Research Lab

During the day of research itself, run through the checklist below to make sure that you have everything in place:

Research Lab

  • Suitable table and chairs
  • Video camera
  • Microphone
  • Laptop
  • Screen-capture software
  • Notebook/ laptop for note taking
  • Flash card (for card sorting activities)
  • Post-it notes

Observation Room

  • Suitable table and chairs
  • Monitor
  • Magnetic whiteboard
  • Post-it notes


In conclusion, do not fret if you mess up your first qualitative research session. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect”, you should be able to create your personal checklist and habits to follow after a few research labs.



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