Shadowing Template & Protocol

Documentation Type
Last updated
Mar 13, 2023 6:01 AM
Research Type
Shadowing is a research technique which involves a researcher closely following a member of an organization over an extended period of time. When the person being shadowed goes to another department, the researcher follows them. When they have a project meeting or meet with a customer, the researcher sits in. This is a template and protocol for the shadowing method.

📔 Project Overview

[explain briefly the goal/objective of this project on a high level]

Hypotheses, goals & research questions

Research questions
[enter the hypotheses that corresponds to this method]
[enter the goals that corresponds to this method]
[enter the research questions that corresponds to this method]

🛠️ The setup


  • Camera (for recording)
  • Dovetail (for transcribing & Analysis)
  • etc.


Which users and clinics will you observe?

Clinic name
User name

👻 The Shadowing Plan

During the shadowing session it is important to make notes while the camera is rolling. Make notes of the important moments mentioned below so you can use those to ask questions about later.

Below are 4 areas to look at while doing a shadowing session. Activities, Interactions, Details, and locations are what you need to look out for. Adapt these to fit your research. Don't forget to focus your shadowing research on the user's tasks.

Activities to observe

  • observe a user in their daily tasks
    • observe how they approach their [enter specific user tasks] and how the product is used in these daily tasks
    • ensure you can see the screen in the video and can record the interactions with the physical screen as well as between the user and (if applicable) a client to ensure being able to see the full workflow
  • Observe a user making a mistake in their daily task(s)
    • observe the screen to identify when and where mistakes are made
    • observe the users’ physical reactions to the mistake
    • observe how they solve their problem (involve others, find workarounds).
  • Observe a moment that causes frustration/anger (intense visible emotion)
    • observe why this emotion occurs
    • observe when and where this happens
  • Observe a moment where the user is confused / in doubt / hesitates with regards to their daily task(s)
  • Observe how the user uses the physical space around them
    • Observe if they use any other software, tools, or devices to make their daily task(s) easier.

Interactions to observe

  • observe moments where a user involves a colleague/works together with someone
  • observe a moment where the user asks someone else for help
    • observe what happens here, why help is being asked, and what the help offers
  • observe a user when they are rushed/disturbed
    • observe what happens at this moment
    • how do they get back to the task at hand?

Details to observe

  • what device(s) is the user using to fulfill their daily tasks
    • observe the details, for example type of computer, tablet, phone, or a range of devices
    • Are there any TVs, blackboards, or whiteboards in the clinic? Record if and how they are being used.
  • what are the specifications of this device?
    • Is it quick/slow? Does this cause frustration?
    • How big is the screen they work on
    • Are they using a mouse/keyboard?
  • are there any analog solutions the user is using to complete their daily task(s)?
    • observe if they print papers (what kind), where do they bring them? Or a notebook? Observe why they use these analog solutions

Location to observe

  • observe the user in their natural environment (whether that is at a front desk or somewhere else)
    • What does the environment look like, how many people are around, and is it open/closed?
    • When does it get busy? What happens then?
  • Observe a user walking around during their day
    • Why do they do this? Is their work in different environments?

🎥 Starting the shadowing session

When the shadowing day starts, make sure you have brought the materials (camera, mic + iPad) to properly collect data.

Introduce yourselves

When the day starts, introduce yourself to the user you will be following this session. Explain to them the following:

  • Who you are
  • You will be following them around for a specific amount of time
  • You will be recording their actions & reactions but only to understand them better. You are not there to evaluate them or tell them how to use the product.
  • Please let them pretend you are not there, you are just there to observe and not to answer questions or help them out with the product

Let them introduce themselves

  • Ask them to introduce themselves on camera, name, their role, and what day it is.
  • Ask them what they expect out of this day/morning/afternoon/hour when it comes to their tasks

Go about their day

  • Let the user know you will be starting the shadowing session and will remain silent from now on as they go about their day while you shadow.
  • Make sure you have a place to sit down as standing for an hour is not advised. Don’t feel like you have to sit right behind the participant either, just make sure you can still see things to make notes off.
  • Do not answer any of their questions during this and don’t help them out with anything that happens. Just observe and record.

After the shadowing session

  • collect your video material and notes together in one Notion file (a template has been designed for this).
  • the materials will be collected and then analysed.

🔎 Findings & Analysis

[in this section demonstrate your findings and what they mean. Most of this will be done in Dovetail. So post your concluded analysis here and link back to dovetail for the full details]

💡 Recommendations

[what recommendations do you make based on the analysis of the findings?]

Recommendations for design

Design need

Recommendations for development

Development need

Recommendations for research

Research need

ℹ️ Resources

Add links to any resources or information you use.

  • x