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How to write a usability testing report (and get organisational buy in)

Posted by Lucy Collins on Nov 10, 2023 9:15 AM

How many times has a report landed on your desk, you’ve given it a cursory glance then left it there to gather dust? Whilst reports are a valuable way to document findings of usability testing, on their own they will have limited impact.

However, by combining said report with a rigorous buy in process and plenty of collaboration, you will get many more members of your organisation on board and have a far easier job implementing your research findings.

There are two key moments for getting organisational buy in:

  1. Buy in to the research process and outcomes
  2. Buy in to the recommendations for action

These are the steps we recommend you take to secure your stakeholders’ support and get the most value from your research.

Note: a stakeholder in this context is anyone who can influence the implementation of the research outcomes.

Step 1: Get stakeholders to observe research

  • Observation enables greater insight into the user issues by allowing staff to watch testers’ behaviours and hear their attitudes. Observing testing ‘live’ (i.e. as it happens) can help bring the issues into sharp relief.
  • If your stakeholders can’t observe live research, encourage them to watch at least one of the testing videos
  • If this is too much like hard work, produce a highlights video of key issues to show them. Make sure you leave in some of the quiet bits showing testers looking obviously confused!

Step 2: Talk through the usability issues with stakeholders

  • Before you begin talking about solutions, get the key stakeholders to discuss the issues they’ve observed: only by having a collective agreed view of the issues is it possible to come up with sensible and realistic actions to address these.

Side note: Everyone develops their own interpretation of why a user behaved in a particular way based on their own experiences, values and prejudices. Only by getting them to discuss what they have observed is it possible to challenge these mental models and gain agreement about the issues with the site or prototype.  This discussion facilitates the process of collaborative ‘sense-making’, enabling the observers to take ownership of the research results, and develop a collective view of the issues that need to be addressed.

Step 3: Develop solutions with your stakeholders

  • Involving key stakeholders in the development of solutions ensure any actions take into consideration your organisation’s financial, technical and political constraints
  • It also speeds up the process from research to action by minimising the need for a separate presentation or subsequent meetings
  • Finally, it ensure the final report won’t be a shock – it will simply reiterate and confirm their understanding of the research and the recommendations.

Step 4: Produce a winning report

Use the report as a place to document all research findings and discussion outcomes. Make sure it:

  • Focuses relentlessly on user evidence: make clear testers’ behaviours and, where relevant, support issues with user quotes
  • Includes the research objectives so that anyone who picks the report up can quickly what you were trying to achieve
  • Includes tester information to make it clear your testers accurately reflected the relevant user types
  • Includes a summary of the overarching ‘macro’ issues
  • Provides a detailed analysis of all the ‘micro’ issues unearthed during the research
  • Relates recommendations to the relevant issues

Hopefully by adopting this approach your research findings will quickly be turned into action with minimal resistance from your organisation. Much better than leaving a report to gather dust on the shelf!

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