I'm business analyst on a project that creates new UI for existing system for public non commercial organization. System has about 9 screens, 3-4 main screens and other secondary screens (less usable and mostly have the same elements as main ones). Mostly it's search for archived documents and display of different types of data, including map view.

Two of those screens were designed with HTML demo and I wrote requirements for development.

Now I need to create home page which is now just bunch of links to other pages. I don't have a budget for any kind of user research. but I still want to create more valuable design. I thought about two options:

  1. Perform an interview with someone how knows the system to learn about possible usage, based on this interview create questionnaire and ask my colleagues for their opinion.
  2. We have workshop for all business analysts in the company, I thought to put all links that I have now at the home page and ask them to sort it (kind of card sorting).

I'm looking for other creative ideas, what can be done in this case? Any help is highly appreciated!

  • 1
    Do you have access to that system's users? How many colleagues or coworkers do you have? How much time do you have? User research can be done for free, but it will depend on your resources
    – Devin
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 4:26
  • Unfortunately I don't have access to actual users, I know that they can be divided into two groups: public users - any citizen that wants information, second group is professional users. They know more about what they are looking for and they are familiar with the terminology. I have about 30 co workers form them 6-8 business analysts. There is no due date in this project, so 1-2 months, but co-workers' time is limited.
    – InnaS
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 10:55
  • Can you clarify the issue here? The question is about user research, but you state that you "need to create [a] home page" and "want to create [a] more valuable design". Do you have something to test?
    – dennislees
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 13:57
  • The goal is to have useful home page and I wanted to achieve it by doing user research in order to learn what mean useful in this case.
    – InnaS
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 17:50

2 Answers 2


OK, here are some hints.

  1. First, you can start with protopersonas. It won't replace working with real personas, but it's a quick and dirty approach that will be way better than nothing
  2. After this, you may continue with a mind map. This will help get everybody on board reducing friction
  3. Once you have this, try a few surveys. You said that this is going to be used by public, so you're one of the users, but you're too biased. So try asking friends, family, maybe even the people in shops. You can also try some guerrilla research. Again, not the best, but always better than nothing.
  4. Time of some Information Architecture.
  5. With this, you'll (hopefully) have enough to start with sketching, wireframes and mockups
  6. Time to start some tests with your coworkers. Are the proto-personas represented? Does your design reflect the data from your surveys? Are there any accessibility issues? Is all the data quickly available? Are there any issues you didn't perceive at first?
  7. After all of the above is answered and eventually solved, you can build your prototype. Now it's time to get your machete and go guerrilla again. Don't worry, people LOVES to give their opinions (but it's advisable to at least pay them a coffee)
  8. Is everything OK? Did you find any interesting outcome? Are items mentioned in point 5 working the same for final users? Yes? There you go! You have created a great app following a decent UX process for free

Final hint

There are A LOT of tools that provide insights for free (limited, of course). I won't mention them here since there are hundreds and for different purposes, but you can just do a Google search for free UX tools and you'll find them.


Free UX research won't give you all the insights a good research with all the resources may give you, but it's way better than 99% of sites out there. Also, you'll make a difference in your organization and their approach to user experience


I think you're on the right track with your card sorting idea. That will help you identify the hierarchy of information you display on your homepage and any persistent navigation. You could also consider doing a tree test (aka Tree Jack). Use this if you need to understand where people would go to find information on your site.

And if you have your colleagues perform these exercises or attempt a task, once they are finished, ask them if they think a user outside of your organization would have had the same success. Ground your internal feedback with a consideration of your targeted users.

Lastly, I would avoid interviewing your colleagues until you are able to verify their ideas and feelings with real users.


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