In-Person Site Visit

In-person site visits involve visiting and talking with people at the location where a service is delivered. Seeing how a service is delivered to citizensand how citizens experience the servicecan help research teams see new opportunities, understand the needs of citizens and staff, establish priorities, and understand context. A site visit may be as short as an afternoon or as long as three days, depending on the scope of the services offered at a location and the volume of service traffic.


  1. Develop a shortlist of possible locations and timing considerations (peak service times, weekdays vs weekends) for your site visit.

  2. Contact the responsible executive or manager for each location and inform them of the purpose, timing and typical activities of a site visit. Explain how much time and commitment is needed from staff, and collaborate with the executive or manager to help plan site activities.

  3. Develop a list of questions to ask staff and citizens that are coming to access services.

  4. Arrange an onsite contact that will host the team during the visit. Work with the host in advance of the visit to help understand the site layout, services provided, staff roles and typical clients and interactions.

  5. Set expectations among the staff at the site in advance via email, or during introductions at your site visit. Many front-line staff will be self-conscious of being judged or evaluated. Ensure that the value of obtaining a frontline perspective for service design is communicated well.


  • At a minimum, teams should identify two locations for site visits. Consider multiple site visits when there are services offered in significantly different locations (urban, rural, metro, regional hubs, remote).

  • In-person site visits are a good chance to run a workshop or schedule more in-depth behavioural interviews to maximize the effectiveness of your time at a service location.

  • Your research team or contacts may help connect you with potential locations for in-person site visits. These contacts can provide context and direction on suitable locations and introduce you to location managers.