From Observations to Insights

Once you have conducted the usability study with at least five participants. You are ready to move on to the next stage – ANALYZE and SYNTHESIZE the result. This article will introduce you to the third process of the User Research.

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

Synthesizing is when you combine ideas to draw conclusions. What does those observations mean for us? UX designers synthesize research to group data into themes. We want to find insights that evolve our understanding of users and their needs. There will be at least one theme in your observation, which can evolve our understanding. By grouping the shared frustrations, we can understand how crucial this problem is and figure out ways solve it – this is our insight.

After we discover insights, we’re ready to iterate on our design. Iterate means we revise the original design to create a new and improved version. UX design is all about coming up with an idea, getting feedback from participants or users, and iterating to make the idea better.

Before diving in deeper, let’s go over the Case Study: Improving design at Google, which is part of the Google UX Design Certificate on Coursera. What stands out about the this study is the hand-on experience to observe users in real person in Delhi, India and Jakarta, Indonesia. The usaibility study was focusing on the two-wheels vechicles in the crowded cities in the Asia.

Research Insights – Google Map in India and Indonesia

  • It is hard to use the map on the two-wheeled vehicles and so drivers would memorize the routes beforehand.
  • Pointing out landmarks during the trip is especially important for drivers of two-wheeled vehicles.
  • More language options are needed to reflect the local market. India alone has 22 offical languages and thousands of local dialects. Indonesians speak hundreds of languages as well.
  • Customizing the directions for drivers of two-wheeled vehicles.

The Google Map case study bring us to the two different types of research studies: Traditional Research and Field Research. Traditional research is to ask riders to test out the new app feature to collect feedback and compiling data is always useful to UX world. But, field research or firsthand observation of people in their natural environment is incredibly valuable too. It allows researchers to collect audio, video, and in-person experiences. These personal experiences helped the UX team truly empathize with its users and understand exactly what each person needs.

Now, let’s get back to what an insight is in the field of UX design. You might remember that an insight is an observation about people that helps you understand the user or their needs from a new perspective. Insights can help us figure out how different pieces of data relate to each other. Insights also help explain what data means and what to do with it. How can we come up with a list of insights? In just four steps, we can turn the obseravtions from our research into actionale insights.

Step 1: Data gathering from our usability study in one place. We might have collected data in various formats such as stacks of sticky notes, a spreadsheet, audio notes, or even a notebook without scribbles. You also need to collect notes from other teammembers, who observed the usability study.

Step 2: Organize the data. If you use the sticky notes for note-taking, then you might use a method called affinity diagramming to organize your data. If you used spreadsheet notetaking to record your observations, you’ve already started organizing the data without even realizing it.

Step 3: Find themes in the data. One of the key goals of user research is to identify themes that are common across participants. These themes help us to turn our data into insights about the users.

Step 4: Come up with insights for each theme. We want to write an insight that tells the design team how to improve the product based on a theme. Depending on the amount of data you’ve collected, you should be able to come up with a handful of themes and insights.

That’s it and you are on your way to synthesize your findings to draw conclusions.

Good luck!

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