If you’re a UX researcher, you probably already know how important it is to carefully consider every step of a research plan: You need to make sure you understand the problem space, choose the most suitable research methods, identify and recruit the right target users, and figure out how to collect and analyze the data.
But do you put much thought into how you’re going to showcase your findings to your various stakeholders throughout the process? Communication is among the most critical skills in a researcher’s toolkit, as it drives stakeholder action, but many researchers just throw presentations together at the last minute.
Let’s examine how you can better approach communicating with stakeholders and enable them to make informed decisions.
Share Research Findings Continuously
Whether it’s due to individual or organizational reasons, many UX researchers view communicating their study findings as one big presentation at the end of their research plan. This not only makes the process cumbersome for everybody involved, but it also doesn’t provide feedback to the right stakeholders when they can make the most use of it.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should schedule more meetings with everybody to deliver lengthy presentations — Neither you nor your stakeholders have the time for that. What you can do is adopt different methods of continuous sharing of findings. Below are three methods you could use in tandem:
- Instant reports — Informal and unscheduled sharing with relevant stakeholders as soon as you uncover a finding. It’s best to choose a communication medium that offers permanence, such as a messaging application, so that stakeholders can review your comments when they have the bandwidth for them.
- Findings repository — A collection of all of your documented findings. Most researchers will already have some form of this, but don’t think to share it with stakeholders. You can turn your repository into a communication tool by making it easy to filter and search with consistent use of meta documentation.
- Presentation reports — The more formal approach to communicating findings, often in the form of a Powerpoint presentation. Sharing these reports, or parts of them, outside of meetings can help different stakeholders make the most use of them.
Now, to figure out how and when to use each method, you should learn more about each stakeholder and what their needs are.
Understand Your Audience
Each stakeholder group has different needs, subject matter expertise, authority over the project, abilities, and constraints. Furthermore, each of these attributes can change depending on the stage of the product’s life cycle. Knowing what these attributes are in context will help you develop an effective communication strategy.
Luckily, as a UX researcher, you already have the aptitude for learning about people’s needs and behaviors. You can apply your user research skills to understand your stakeholders, though perhaps through less formal methods.
Once you understand your stakeholders, you need to work out how to present your findings in a relevant manner. You should ask, “How can I transform this data into an insight they can take action from?”.
Transform Data Into Actionable Insights
A safe general rule in communicating with stakeholders is that they rarely have the expertise or time to interpret countless charts and tables. You can develop insights by drawing relevant information from the data and presenting why it matters to you, why it matters to the project goals, and ultimately, why it should matter to your stakeholders.
While you should offer guidance for the next steps and recommendations, making insights actionable does not mean providing exact solutions. Your stakeholders will figure out how to refine their solutions; they just need you to show how these insights should impact their work.
It’s important to note that these insights only make sense in a broader context than what is typically discussed during a stakeholder meeting. Therefore, it’s important to reiterate not only why the findings matter, but how your work is serving a common goal.
Use Annotations, Highlight Reels and Transcriptions to Share Key Findings
Userlytics’ suite of tools offers several simple and convenient ways to share your UX insights in a bite size format. Three of those tools are annotations, highlight reels, and automated transcriptions.
Annotations are comments made on specific timeline moments of your participants’ video sessions. Study annotations offer the following perks:
- Allow you to create a shareable URL that directs to a specific timeline moment, titled with the name of your annotation for context
- Allow you to create a shareable URL that directs to a compilation of video clips, grouped together by themes and tags
- Allow you to share a list of videos that can be easily browsed through, with each video hyperlinked to a specific timeline moment
Highlight Reels are a collection of annotations grouped by theme (tag) or by the study activities your participants complete. Highlight reels allow you to compile the best moments of a study, or multiple studies, and share them with your stakeholders via a downloadable video or sharable link.
Userlytics’ automated video transcription capability, provided by Amazon, offers a unique way to quickly and efficiently transcribe lengthy video sessions in a variety of languages. Browse through the transcribed text copy of the audio of each participant session and identify key moments and events, without having to watch the entire session video. The transcription text is all timestamped, so clicking anywhere on the transcription will take you to that timeline moment in the video, making sharing key test moments with stakeholders easier than ever.
Restate Goals and Tell a Story
Reminding stakeholders why your work matters may seem like an act of self-gratification, but doing so helps direct everyone’s focus towards common goals. In a stakeholder presentation, it’s good practice to reiterate your research goals and how sharing your findings with others will help them make well-informed decisions. You don’t need to take up too much time to have an effective and impactful presentation.
A great way to approach sharing your UX findings with stakeholders without needless self-gratification and repetitiveness is to tell a story about your users. Present a narrative arc of a user, or users, interacting with the system. Start with their goals, present your insights into user issues as moments of action or conflict, until they reach their resolution that you can draw recommendations from.
Just remember that the story of a UX project never really ends – there will always be new challenges to encounter along the way. By presenting your insights regularly to stakeholders in ways they’ll understand, you can make sure everybody remains on the same page.
Article written by Paul Khawaja
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