Research Project Planning - Time estimates for various research methods and phases



Are there any suggested rough estimates for how long user research methods and phases of research planing, execution, and analysis take? I’m trying to get better at project management and planning more methodically and accurately, which I’ve identified as a major opportunity for me increase my efficacy and impact. There are a few methods I know well enough through experience to estimate and I know how to break tasks down into subtasks for new methods I’m unfamiliar with, but I always get stuck on educated guesses on duration. This is a fundamental issue that has proved elusive to me, so I’m reaching out. I have looked online, in the archives of this list, and in several books about user research. Many practitioners talk about this issues and bring up bits and pieces, but nothing seems substantive enough in my opinion. In my research about conducting research, I’m running into the following hurdles:

  • It seems like there is no consensus on this, as it can vary wildly due to project parameters and the unique needs and constraints at the time of execution.
  • I know that with qualitative research, timing is very difficult to estimate since “information saturation” (inflection point where no new insights are discovered) is an unknown

Perhaps there are guidelines that I’ve somehow missed. If not, there are only two ways to get to estimates (generally speaking) that I can think of:

  • Compile and average times for tasks and phases from a survey of practitioners - at the very least we can get ranges and relative timing differences.
  • Start tracking my own projects and build historical averages - I assume others have done this internally but haven’t shared it publicly

If this info doesn’t exist, ideally we as a community and cohort of researchers could combine those two methods in a publicly available and updatable format similar to that of salary ranges. I’m imagining a table of research methods and corresponding attributes that could be filtered and sorted with time estimates. I know that resources like this exist but the timing component is what seems to be missing. Perhaps for good reason, but I’d like to have some baseline to draw from.



Calling all @Researchers


I answered a question similar to this on this forum last month. :slight_smile:

I would suggest tracking project estimates and actuals at your current work and build a history.
The time estimates for research have so many variables that I think any sort of reference documentation from outside sources would be tough to put together.

For example, a more senior person would do things faster than a junior person, a dedicated research team would do things on a different schedule. A UX team of one would have a third timeline, and so on.

Depending upon where in the project lifecycle the researches being done can matter. If there is a research coordinator, that can make a difference. None of this includes the actual research method.

A rule of thumb I like to follow is to have 40% of the project be allocated to research throughout the project. Now you know that’s going to be cut and compromised, but it’s a good starting point.


Can you put a link into your previous response? I looked for similar questions but missed it. Thanks!


Here you go, How long does it take to conduct a user research?