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Learn how to effectively communicate your user research findings, and get inspired with this list of free templates and examples.
Tbh, the clue’s in the name with this one. A UX research report is a summary of the methods used, research conducted, data collected, and insights gleaned from user research.
Traditional research reports (like the ones still produced by scientific and academic researchers) are typically long text documents with detailed explanations of participant sampling, methodologies, analyses, etc.
A lot of ink has been spilled on why the traditional format is not the best way to communicate UX research findings to stakeholders and the wider team. Some folks have even advocated ditching reports entirely.
But—as Katya Hott argued on UX Collective—even if you’ve involved stakeholders early and often and have a clean, tagged, and organized research repository, there is still a lot of value in sharing a summary of the whys, hows, and outcomes of your UX research.
We’ve put together a collection of over 30 templates and examples to help you present your user research findings in a way that stakeholders will actually use.
Slides decks are a popular way to report user research findings. One nice thing about the format is its flexibility. Slides can be shared synchronously as presentations over Zoom, or asynchronously as visual documents, perhaps supplemented by a Loom or other video recording. And a deck can be as in-depth or as lightweight as necessary, depending on the nature of your research and the needs of your stakeholders.
Here’s a UX research findings slides template from the User Interviews team that you can download and adapt for your own presentation:
Email and/or Slack messages are another lightweight option for communicating user research efforts. This format is useful for sharing informal research summaries with executives or team members who don’t have a direct stake in the study. It’s also a good way to keep stakeholders looped into research as it happens.
Our own VP of User Research, Roberta Dombrowski, suggests the following workflow:
Looking for a research findings summary template? You can borrow ours:
Some researchers like to (or are asked to) present their findings in a case study format, sometimes as a blog post. Many user researchers and UX designers also include case studies in their portfolios, and these can be great sources of inspiration.
One benefit of this format is that it contains (or should contain) a strong narrative thread, which makes it a popular tool for communicating ethnographic research findings. Storytelling is a great way to help people follow along, understand the value of your research, and develop empathy for the participants involved.
Atomic Research is an approach to user research that breaks down research findings into a single searchable, shareable qualitative data point (a “nugget”). It was developed by Tomer Sharon when he was Head of UX at WeWork. In his words:
“Atomic Research is an approach to managing research knowledge that redefines the atomic unit of a research insight. Instead of reports, slide decks, and dashboards, the new atomic unit of a research insight is a nugget. A nugget is a tagged observation supported by evidence. It’s a single-experience insight about a customer’s experience.” – Tomer Sharon
Storing research individual insights in a self-serve database for teams to surface as needed makes a lot of sense, and is becoming an increasingly popular model for sharing user research findings.
But if the trouble with research reports is that nobody reads them, the trouble with research nuggets may be that (without context) not everybody knows how to read them. In both cases, you’re asking stakeholders to do a lot of work (read a long report, proactively dig for data).
We’d argue that just because you’re doing Atomic Research doesn’t mean you can’t also summarize your research question, methodology, and key takeaways in a slide deck or email. You can also create a dynamic collection of insights within your repository to help stakeholders wrap their heads around all those nuggets of information.
Your research may produce deliverables, such as:
Of course, you can include these artifacts in a slideshow or email, just as you would a research report. It’s a good idea to store these in a repository as well, so that they can be easily accessed and added to over time.
There's a little bit of everything in here—Google Slides decks, Figma templates, Miro boards, Notion docs, even a couple old-school reports (gasp!).
Regardless of which format you use to communicate UX research findings, there are a few rules of thumb that you’ll want to bear in mind.
The designers who will be putting your findings into action and the CEO fundraising for a Series B are going to have very different needs, attention spans, and uses for the research you’ve done.
Ideally, you will have conducted stakeholder interviews early on in the process. From these interviews, you should have a sense of what your different stakeholders are looking to get out of your report.
If you are able to tailor your presentation to different groups of stakeholders, fantastic! Relevance is always a good thing. But it’s more likely that you’ll need to consider how different stakeholders will consume your reporting. You may want to provide people with multiple formats and ways to interact with findings.
Sometimes people ask me how long a piece of content should be. I usually respond with the infuriatingly enigmatic answer that it should be “as long as it needs to be but as short as possible.”
That mantra applies just as well to user research reporting. When summarizing your research for stakeholders, keep it concise. Make it easy for people to dive deeper into the minute details of your study if they want to—but don’t make it mandatory.
Describe the how. Explain the methods you used to recruit participants, conduct sessions, and analyze results. Avoid using too much jargon, especially if you’re sharing with non-researchers.
Your stakeholders don’t have time for this. And even if they did, they likely wouldn’t know what to do with mountains of raw data. For most people, a summary of key insights is enough. For the folks that do want to dig deeper, that’s where a searchable repository of clean, tagged data comes in.
But this is also a valuable opportunity for you to translate your findings into a format that designers, executives, and other stakeholders will find relevant, actionable, and easy to understand. Don’t squander this opportunity to build empathy for your users and demonstrate the value of the work you do.
As the person (or team) responsible for designing the research project, talking to participants, conducting tests, and analyzing the results, you are well qualified to make actionable recommendations about how to act on the findings of your research.
What you don’t want to do is mistake agnostic recommendations based on data with your own opinions about how people should use your findings.
Content marketer by day, thankless servant to cats Elaine Benes and Mr. Maxwell Sheffield by night. Loves to travel, has a terrible sense of direction. Bakes a mean chocolate tart, makes a mediocre cup of coffee. Thinks most pine trees are just okay. "Eclectic."
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