Identify Patterns and Themes From Usability Study Observations

After you cluster all the information in the affinity map or spread sheet, you will see some patterns and themes emerge from your observation. This article will focus on how you can go about identy patterns and themes step by step.

Step 1: Getting your document with a template ready

You can use any word document program of your choice. Then you might want to label the header – Pattern Identification. Then move on with the list of patterns in the following manner:

  1. It was observed that # out of # participants (insert observation from research). This means that (insert theme based on that observation).

Once you have the document ready, let’s get into identify patterns in your research.

Step 2: Identify patterns in your research

Revisit the spreadsheet you created for your usability test observations. Your goal is to find patterns in this data. For example, if you discover that four out of five participants reacted in the same way to a specific part of the product, that would be a pattern.

Example of speadsheet from the usability study by Lylyna Heng

Empty cells in the spreadsheet might be a pattern worth noting.

When you identify a pattern move it over to the pattern identification template.

Step 3: Determine themes based on patterns

After you have identified at least five patterns form your data, you can start detmining the themes these patterns represent. For example, suppose you notice that four out of five participants find it takes a few clicks just to go back to the main menu. You might conclude that users don’t spend much time in getting to much detail of the item. They should be able to navigate and to back the main menu to see what else on there.

The themes you distill from your research don’t need to be jargon-heavy or acdemic. These three suggestions will keep your theme grounded in the data and accessible to those reading them:

  • Keep you theme simple, direct, and easy to understand.
  • Limit themes to just one idea
  • Remove opinions from the process and ensure that your themes are based on objective observations you made.
Theme from uability study by Lylyna Heng

To conclude, by identifying these patterns to put into themes from your usability study help you in determine your idea and design. These information is important for the next iteration.

Good Luck!

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