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How to Get More Value Out of Your User Research Recordings

Work smarter, not harder. These 5 tips will help you make the most of your UX research session recordings and analysis.

Make your research session recordings work harder so you don’t have to! 

Recording your research sessions is good—using those recordings effectively is even better. 84% of people who do research take video recordings of their sessions, according to our State of User Research Report. To make sure your research recordings are working for you, we’ll share some tips to help you maximise each and every recording. 

In this article, we’ll go over five ways to get more value out of each and every research recording, effectively turning a single research artifact into multiple artifacts that both you and your stakeholders will actually use.

5 ways to get more value out of every session

Read on for quick tips and tools to help you take better session notes, highlight important moments, transcribe your sessions, pull out short video clips to share with stakeholders, and catalog your insights for easier recall later. 

1. Think about what kinds of data you’ll need before your research session.

You can start making the most of your research recordings before you even schedule your sessions. 

Give some thought ahead of time to how you’ll analyze your research. The kinds of analysis you plan to do—and the kinds of insights you’re hoping to pull out—may have an impact on how you’ll conduct your research. For example, if you’re conducting moderated usability tests, timestamped notes can help you track things like “time on task” more quickly during analysis. On the other hand, meticulous timestamping during the session may not be as important for generative user interviews.

Need a hand keeping track of what happens or what users say, when? Check out our usability testing template, complete with an easy way to timestamp your notes during the session.

2. Highlight important moments during the session.

As you’re conducting your session, certain moments may stick out as important. Making note of these (and when they happen) during the session can make it easier for you to pull out the best clips for your stakeholders later. You can also tag specific moments with keywords or themes as they emerge, and review your notes to pull out the most important tidbits. 

To do this, you’ll want timestamped and well-organized notes. But sometimes (okay, all the times) it’s difficult to capture everything in appropriate detail and pay attention to the session at hand. Having a note taker for your session can help you focus on the participant and get well-organized notes. Plus, it’s a great way to get stakeholders involved in the actual process of research.

3. Get a transcript of your sessions.

Transcripts can be really helpful for scanning through important moments in a session, without needing to rewatch the whole thing. Transcripts also help you create a searchable database of what happened during past research sessions. If you ever want to go back and dig into insights about a particular topic or feature, it’s relatively easy to search through text transcripts for specific words, phrases, etc.

There are tons of transcription tools on the market, such as the Condens automated transcription tool. Keep in mind that real live human transcription is typically more accurate than AI-generated transcription. It’s also more expensive, and you may not need every word to be exactly correct for this purpose. 

4. Create highlight reels to share with stakeholders.

Highlight reels are one of the most important assets you can bring from your research sessions to your final presentations. Seeing a real user struggle with a feature, for example, can really help stakeholders build empathy. 

At the end of your research study, you may find that what you present to stakeholders falls into themes. In this case, David Travis of UserFocus recommends that you package your highlights in small groups of clips that show similar things happening. He also recommends keeping your clips short and sweet—under five minutes per theme. 

5. Correctly tag your recordings, notes, and analyses.

Finally, in order to make the most of each and every research recording, you’ll need to make sure you’re storing and organizing all that raw data properly. This isn’t the most glamorous part of the research process, but it’s an essential part of doing research that lasts. A good tagging system will make it SO much easier to search and recall important insights later, track changes over time, and tie your efforts to business outcomes. 

Rather than tagging everything at the very end of your project, try to do it (or at least some of it) as you conduct your study, adding recordings and notes as they come in. 

And there you have it—five quick and easy ways to get more value out of your research recordings and help you speed through research analysis

Tools to help you make the most of your research session recordings.

Lucky for us, there are tons of tools to help you make the most of your research session recordings. Here are a few to check out. A lot of them cover multiple functions, like taking notes, creating transcriptions, and exporting highlight reels. So you may only need one of these tools to get the job done! 

UXR tools to take timestamped notes

Noted in action
  • Noted – Mac/iOS app that records audio and allows you to take timestamped notes.
  • Usability Testing template – Google Sheet that makes it easy to mark timestamps in your notes.

UXR tools to create transcriptions

Rev's transcription service
  • Rev – Human-generated transcription and captions. 
  • Temi – AI-generated transcription with a five minute turnaround time. 

UXR tools to create transcriptions, take notes, and highlight important moments

Highlighting important moments in Grain
  • Grain – a popular Zoom add-on that automatically creates a transcript and makes it easy to bookmark key moments during the session. Grain also makes it easy to highlight clips and share them with your team.
  • Otter.ai – AI-generated transcription and note taking for your Zoom calls.
  • Perfect Recall – Zoom add-on that automatically creates transcripts of your calls, allows you to easily create highlight clips, and makes sharing simple.

UXR tools to create transcriptions, take notes, highlight important moments, and create a tagged research repository

Reviewing a session in Dovetail
  • Dovetail –  a research repository tool that lets you transcribe videos and makes them easy to tag and organize. 
  • EnjoyHQ – a research repository tool that can transcribe videos, tag insights, and lets you search through the data you have.
  • Aurelius – a research repository tools that can transcribe audio, organize your research into projects, and tag insights.
  • Vowel – a video conferencing app that automatically transcribes your meetings and makes them searchable.
  • Reduct – AI-generated transcription, note taking, and insight management for user research.

Even more UX research tools

Looking for even more tools to get your research done right? Check out our UX Research Tools Map—the 2021 edition is coming soon!

Carrie Boyd
Former Content Writer at UI

Carrie Boyd is a UXR content wiz, formerly at User Interviews. She loves writing, traveling, and learning new things. You can typically find her hunched over her computer with a cup of coffee the size of her face.

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