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Writing Up and Sharing User Research [Template Download]

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 14, 2014 6:00:00 AM / by Molly Wolfberg

You've recruited the users, run the tests and completed the research. But how do you share that with the rest of your team? Presenting the findings of your usability testing sessions in an easy to read summary is one of the best ways to get the rest of your team (or your company) to stay up to date with all of your results. Most of your colleagues don't have time to read the notes and watch the recordings of each test, but have a vested interest in how it all turned out. Since we do a lot of quick, high-turnaround testing at HubSpot(for example, the addition of a preview feature to a heavily-used email editing screen), we find that we often just need to share our findings in a low-fidelity way to the key stakeholders. 

At HubSpot, we have an internal wiki where we post all testing results for the entire organization to see. We use a particular structure that outlines everything about the testing, including goals, images of the prototypes being tested, background on the users we're talking with, and our analysis of the results.

Getting to these results requires some planning. Besides writing up some administrative information around the users and the test, we need to outline goals and tasks to include in the write-up.

  • Before the testing sessions, we talk with the product manager and designer to get a feel for what the scope of the project is and what we're trying to learn about the design during testing.
  • We then decide which tasks a user must absolutely be able to complete during the test in order for the design to be considered a success. The results we're looking for focus heavily on the number of tasks completed during the test. During testing we then note which users were unable to complete the tasks, where they stumbled, why, their feelings on the process and any important or revealing quotes. Here are some task examples:
    • Can users successfully add a new contact to a database? (3 out of 4 users were able to add a contact)
    • Can users successfully add a contact to a specific email list? (1 out of 4 users were able to then add that contact to an email list)
  • We break the findings down into three parts -- observations, inferences and recommendations. This breaks down the data into three steps: the raw data, what we can learn from that data, and the changes we should make based on that data.

After we write up the results, we also send an email to all who sat in on the testing, as well as others invested in the feature being tested. In the email we explain why we performed the test, the tasks we wanted users to complete, a link to the rest of the testing results on the company-facing wiki, a bulleted list of interesting tasks completed or failed and next steps. This email is just a preview of what we put on the wiki for everyone to see. A typical post-usability testing email looks like this:


If you are looking for some guidance towards writing up your research and communicating it quickly to your colleagues, check out our template.

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Topics: Usability Testing

Molly Wolfberg

Written by Molly Wolfberg

Molly mainly talks about dogs, donuts & UX research. She's currently running user research at Wistia, a video software company for businesses.