You will need

pen and paper


1 day per 1 shadowing


1 user


3 – necessary to focus throughout the whole day

Use when...

  • you need exhausting information about user’s motivations and behavior patterns
  • you need to see the changes in user’s behavior for different contexts

Do not use when...

  • researching a product or a service (try Mystery Shopping instead)


  1. Define what you need to find out when shadowing.
  2. Before you start, meet the user and make sure the basic information about the procedure of shadowing is clear to him or her. Arrange a particular day for the shadowing. This day should be as close to user’s regular day as possible.
  3. If possible, actively, yet unobtrusively, engage in all user’s activities. Try to avoid disrupting his routine.
  4. Make notes, recordings and photos when shadowing. They will help you with the evaluation of the day.
  5. In the final interview, ask the user about anything that was unclear when shadowing.

Keep in mind that...

  • shadowing can be both long-term with a large number of users or a one-shot shadowing for a faster understanding of the problems
  • if unsure, ask the user what he or she does and why does he or she do it

In the exploring phase, you can use the following methods…

Desk Research

When you need to quickly obtain valuable information

When you need to collect a lot of opinions in a short time

When you need a quick feedback

Download the book Service Design in Libraries

It includes detailed descriptions of case studies from both the Czech Republic and Norway.

Download the book  

Get the design methods card set

You will always have a ready help, which will tell you how to proceed, and which tools to prepare.

Get the card set