The Essential Guide to User Research Notes

User research notes are the building blocks of customer insights. Without useful and effective note-taking, we can’t hope to uncover true user needs and deliver an experience that solves their problem or meets those needs.

This post is a recap of our webinar with special guest Bethany Stolle, Design Research Lead at Blackboard. Read the post below to view the slides and full recording of our session!

The Essential Guide to User Research Notes – full webinar recording
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How to Create an Affinity Diagram for UX Research

People doing an affinity diagram with sticky notes

What is an Affinity Diagram?

An affinity diagram is a tool often used to organize data and ideas. Affinity diagrams help you organize information into groups of similar items to then analyze qualitative data or observations.

Business and design teams have used affinity diagrams for a long time to organize ideas, complex information and even customer feedback into themes or groups. For UX researchers, affinity diagrams are often used for analyzing and synthesizing user research findings by patterns and themes. In this case affinity diagrams are sometimes referred to as the KJ method or an affinity map. Also in other broad application like business brainstorming or idea generation it may be called a cluster map.

read more… “How to Create an Affinity Diagram for UX Research”

Aurelius Podcast: Episode 36 with Natalie Hanson on Sharing and Communicating User Research

Episode 36 highlights with Natalie Hanson on Sharing and Communicating User Research:

  • Differences between in house and external UX teams and the unique challenges of each
  • Tips for collaborating with others on your user research work
  • How to encourage non-designers and non-researchers to collaborate on user research and insights
  • Tips for working with stakeholders who believe they already know what needs to be designed
  • Effectively communicating user research insights to inspire action from executives, developers and more

read more… “Aurelius Podcast: Episode 36 with Natalie Hanson on Sharing and Communicating User Research”

Organize and Share Your User Research with a Central Repository

Create Company Wide Empathy with a User Research Repository

Creating insights to share and act on is the most important work you do as a UX or user research professional.

Your research must create a sense of empathy for the people you’re designing for with your team and company. This means your insights and findings must be clear, findable and actionable.

With rapidly changing expectations and methods for communication and sharing knowledge, it’s critical to start building a sustainable research practice right away that builds institutional knowledge of your customers.

Doing so generates better intuition and decision making, as well as wide spread empathy at your organization.

Investing in a user research repository to organize, search and share everything you learn from customer research early helps you accomplish these things and build true customer empathy in your organization.

read more… “Organize and Share Your User Research with a Central Repository”

Aurelius Podcast: Episode 32 with Gregg Bernstein on User Research and Strategic Impact

Gregg Bernstein On User Research – Aurelius Podcast Episode 32 Highlights:

  • How Gregg and his team are doing user research at Vox Media
  • Doing user research for broad audiences and industries
  • Using smaller research projects to lead to larger more strategic research
  • How to most effectively share your user research findings with stakeholders and your team
  • Thoughts on UX research repositories and libraries
  • Tools and tips for setting up your ResearchOps and process for taking in, conducting and sharing user research at your company
  • Making user research more strategic to influence company focus and direction
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of overthinking in the user research process

read more… “Aurelius Podcast: Episode 32 with Gregg Bernstein on User Research and Strategic Impact”

Aurelius Podcast: Episode 31 with Hana Nagel on Building Confidence Through User Research in Your Organization

Episode 31 highlights with Hana Nagel:

  • How the President of the United States did “user research” and what you can learn from that in your work as a UX designer, researcher and product maker
  • Doing user research…about user research, so that you can see much more success with your organization adopting a more user centered mindset
  • Focusing on the outcomes of research to create a greater impact with user research at your company
  • Learning the behavior of your teams and company in order to sell user research internally
  • How to empower other teams to do user research themselves in order to scale user research at your company
  • How to turn user research and findings into action and recommendations
  • Giving your team and company confidence in doing the right things

read more… “Aurelius Podcast: Episode 31 with Hana Nagel on Building Confidence Through User Research in Your Organization”

Aurelius Podcast: Episode 30 with Dave Malouf on DesignOps and ResearchOps

Episode 30 highlights with Dave Malouf:

  • What is ResearchOps and DesignOps?
  • Challenges of operationalizing research and design in growing organizations and how to overcome them
  • Dave’s tips and insights in how to grow design and research in your company more efficiently
  • Who owns “ResearchOps” and what does that person(s) do?
  • How to determine when you should be thinking about DesignOps and ResearchOps

read more… “Aurelius Podcast: Episode 30 with Dave Malouf on DesignOps and ResearchOps”

Aurelius Podcast: Episode 27 with Brianna Sylver on the Differences Between Market Research and User Research

Listen to Episode 27 for highlights with Brianna Sylver including:

  • The difference between user research and market research
  • Using both market research and user research to build a better design strategy
  • Why market research may not be what you think it is
  • How and when you should think about doing user research more like a market researcher
  • Project mindset vs. product mindset
  • Tactical vs. strategic UX design

read more… “Aurelius Podcast: Episode 27 with Brianna Sylver on the Differences Between Market Research and User Research”

Aurelius Podcast: Episode 25 with Michelle Fitzpatrick on Product Management and User Research at Intercom

Episode 25 highlights:

  • Product management at Intercom
  • Choosing the right problems to solve for your customers
  • What user research looks like at Intercom
  • How Michelle and the product team at Intercom chooses which projects to work on
  • Where does UX design start and Product Management end?

read more… “Aurelius Podcast: Episode 25 with Michelle Fitzpatrick on Product Management and User Research at Intercom”

Aurelius Podcast: Episode 23 with Lindsey Redinger on User Research and ResearchOps

Episode 23 Highlights:

  • What is ResearchOps and how do you operationalize user research?
  • Making research accessible to everyone in the organization
  • How InVision documents and stores user research insights
  • Lindsey’s trick for helping all of InVision build empathy with their customers
  • Getting new employees at InVision up to speed with who their customers are as part of their new hire onboarding
  • How to get started in your ResearchOps practice or operationalizing user research and your company
  • Keeping individual projects aligned to broader company goals
  • How Lindsey and InVision uses the Jobs To Be Done framework to keep user research focused

read more… “Aurelius Podcast: Episode 23 with Lindsey Redinger on User Research and ResearchOps”