ARTICLE: Autumn Gilbert

Quality reporting is the key to realizing the full ROI of actionable UX research

Most EdTech companies now understand the importance of UX research in developing products that meet the needs of students, instructors, and administrators. But the thing about UX research is that it’s actually only the first half of the equation. Without thoughtfully prepared reporting, your UX research is really just a pool of data. By adopting effective presentation strategies for reporting research results you can ensure your findings are carried through the rest of the development process.

Reporting is what makes that data actionable. (And it’s also how you document those actions). Reporting is the means by which UX researchers share the insights gleaned from their studies, make recommendations for improvement, and capture any decisions coming out of research and testing phases. 

Why Reporting Matters: 6 Effective Presentation Strategies for Sharing UX Research Results

Research methods and user testing get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to UX research, but reporting should never be an afterthought. Here are just a few of the reasons that reporting is such an invaluable element of UX research. Reporting allows you and your team to: 

  1. Make sense of your UX research findings. Reporting represents an opportunity for UX researchers to translate their findings so that they are quickly and easily understood by designers, engineers, and other stakeholders. Keep in mind that the process of translating your findings may mean different things for different audiences. For example, you might prepare a brief executive summary highlighting major headlines for management and a more robust report for the designers and engineers whose job it will be to actually incorporate your findings into the product’s design. Either way, good reporting does more than just collate your findings in one place. It also: 
    • Describes the stated purpose of your research and gives important context about what happened during testing (for example, you may have encountered certain biases, approached the testing with assumptions, or neglected to include a specific user group).
    • Explains the why behind your findings. Reporting should give a rationale for why users like or don’t like specific elements of your product. 
    • Avoids jumping directly to conclusions about what to prioritize within your reporting. It should provide the relevant findings that will inform the product team’s decision making process, allowing them to set priorities and decide how best to funnel resources. 
  2. Flag new issues that arise in testing. Often, with user testing, your users may identify issues that are beyond the scope of the areas of your product that you intended to test. Reporting allows you to flag these unexpected new issues and bring them to your team’s attention. 
  3. Make informed recommendations. Good research reporting doesn’t just expose a product’s issues. It also points to possible solutions. By observing user testing firsthand, UX researchers have the information necessary to make informed recommendations about how best to improve a product. 
  4. Quickly relay key findings as part of an agile development process. Reporting is sometimes seen as an unnecessary time-suck, especially when an agile, fast-paced development process is preferred. But the reality is that reporting (especially when it comes to documenting decisions and the reasons they were made) is even more important in agile settings. In this context, reporting ensures that nothing falls through the cracks and that on-the-fly decisions are communicated to the entire team. Keep in mind that reporting doesn’t have to take forever. It doesn’t necessarily mean a full 30-page report detailing every finding, recommendation, or change made. When time is of the essence, reporting can simply mean highlighting the most pressing points of process for which feedback is needed and listing high-priority action items. If thorough documentation and speed are both priorities, you may also opt to quickly generate a streamlined summary report for your team to act on immediately and then flesh out a more robust report for future reference over a longer timeframe. 
  5. Document your process and capture new insights for future use. Reporting is a way for your team to document the decisions you’ve made during product development and the reasons behind them. As technology and designs are updated, it’s important for your team to know why decisions were made. If a certain design choice doesn’t test well before development, having the “why” documented makes it less likely that you’ll make the same mistake again in the future. When your design decisions are backed by UX research, they tend to be applicable to other aspects of your team’s work. With solid reporting, your team is able to easily cross-reference the way you’ve handled certain design or engineering decisions over time and make smarter decisions moving forward. 
  6. Get better at what you do. Reporting ultimately helps your team learn and grow. It gives stakeholders and product owners the opportunity to reflect on a product’s trajectory and the decisions that have led up to a current release. It also helps designers learn how to embrace or avoid patterns that over- or under-perform in testing. It’s difficult to understand the future outlook on a product or UX principles if you don’t understand the past. Reporting gives you necessary hindsight, but it also serves as a reminder of the future state of your product and can help set the guiding principles for your design. 

One last thing: reporting has an important role to play in whether or not your organization takes your UX research seriously, understands the outcomes, and adopts your recommendations. In many cases, your report may be the only piece of your UX research that executives and other stakeholders actually lay eyes on. For this and all the other reasons above, make it count.


  • Photo of Autumn Gilbert
    Autumn Gilbert

    In her role as UX Researcher Autumn adds a high degree of compassion and observational skills to our team. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Northern Kentucky University. But it was her during experience going door-to-door interviewing villagers while attending the Ethnographic Field School in Orange Walk, Belize that she found her true passion for research and learning about the world. Outside of work, Autumn enjoys knitting and crocheting scarves and hats that she donates to those in need, reading and doing puzzle books. She is a self-professed “old lady”, but the energy she brings to our team never gets old.

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