Insights are great, actionable ones are better

As a UX researcher, I spend a lot of time interviewing users. Luckily, that is one of the favorite parts of my job. After these conversations and several Post-Its later, insights start to appear.

As a UX researcher, I spend a lot of time interviewing users. Luckily, that is one of the favorite parts of my job. The end goal of said interviews has always been to understand their needs, what keeps them up at night, and how my client’s product or service could help them. After these conversations and several Post-Its later, insights often start to appear.

What is an insight? According to Miriam Webster, “it’s the power or act of seeing into a situation.” I believe an insight is much more than that. An insight is a pattern, or series of patterns, that emerge from a collection of observations, and should push towards a call to action.

A good insight is inspiring and encourages one to want to design something to solve the problem that they’ve identified.

It is relevant and has a compelling user story behind it. For me, it isn’t often the identifying of insights that is challenging, but rather, the implementation of them. 

Here are a few steps to follow to ensure that your insights gathered from user research don’t collect dust, and instead, influence product-related decisions:

1. Walk, before you run

Before you jump into building the solution, make sure you have all the material that you need. Review the challenge for which you are trying to solve and your user personas. If you did user interviews, go back and watch or listen to them again to see if there is anything that you may have missed. Document any relevant information that comes from your research onto individual Post-Its. 

Next, analyze everything and see if you can identify patterns. Group similar things together and give these groups titles that summarize the main points. 

2. Prioritize what’s crucial

After ensuring that everything has been documented, and key themes identified, it is time to prioritize.

First, you must test the desirability, feasibility, and viability for each insight. Think about the answers to the following questions:

  • Desirability – Does the insight help meet the needs of the user? Does it address the key pain points that they are facing? Do they need it or is it a nice to have?

  • Feasibility – Does your company have the resources to make it happen? What kind of technology, skillsets, processes do you need to deliver an exceptional experience?

  • Viability – Does this make money for the business? Will it cut costs? Do we need to make any investments in order to deliver on this insight.

After this initial first pass of prioritization, I like to take the top 3-5 insights and map them on an effort and impact matrix.

Effort/Impact Matrix

The insights that fall in the top left quadrant are the ones that you should definitely pursue without any hesitation. The insights in the top right quadrant are worth pursuing but require more planning. The insights in the bottom left should be considered and the insights on the right should be tossed out.

As you are analyzing your research, you may find some great insights that aren’t necessarily relevant to the particular challenge you are trying to solve. This is perfectly normal. Don’t toss them out, just simply put them in a “parking lot” that you can revisit later. 

3. Create the team

Once you have identified the insights that you want to act upon, you need to make sure you have the right team in place. Implementation cannot be done alone. Think about all of the people needed in order to turn the insight that you discovered and make it into a reality. Do you need a developer, a project manager, designers, marketers? Make a list, identify the best people to fulfil those roles, and then, gather everyone together. 

4. Make a plan

Once you have your team, it is important to first, clearly define everyone's role. What are their tasks? Document this in some way. Next, come up with deadlines and assign tasks to people. In order to turn insights into action, everyone must be held accountable.  

5. Be prepared to iterate

Implementation rarely goes 100% accordingly to plan. Be prepared to adjust deadlines as necessary. After successfully acting on the insights that you found, it is time to rinse and repeat.

How do you make sure your insights lead to action? Share your comments below! 

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