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How to structure product insights to maximise value and impact
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How to structure product insights to maximise value and impact

A question we often get asked is “what makes a great product insight?”. We've found the more interesting question to answer is “how can we ensure that we’re maximising the value and impact of our product insights?”.

Dan Robins
October 22, 2021

Product insights can shape the strategic direction of a business, large or small. In fact, they're one of the most powerful tools that organisations have in helping teams drive towards the next set of successful business outcomes. 


In all great product teams, insights come from a range of different sources. From qualitative and quantitative analysis, to market research and user feedback. 


The way in which product insights are structured or 'packaged up' plays a critical role in their ability to drive real impact for a business. Having a consistent structure that's been developed using a predefined set of considerations is key to maximising not just the impact, but also the potential lifetime value that an insight has to offer.


Before we dive deeper into this, let’s first establish a common understanding. There are many definitions available for a product insight. At Dualo, we define product insights as follows:


Product insights are the key findings from research and analysis articulated in a way which is accessible and digestible for the wider business. They help to explain our observations and offer guidance when considering what’s next for our products and services.


But what does that look like in practice? 

Because product insights come from a wide range of data sources, they need to be structured in a way that’s consistent and helpful for others, outside of their original context. 


At Dualo we encourage teams to follow a consistent approach to writing product insights that’s centered around simplicity, actionability and discoverability:

1. High level statement

Consider this your headline. A high level statement of what you have learned based on facts. This should be descriptive enough to immediately signal whether the insight is relevant to the reader.

2. Further context 

Depending on the specific details conveyed in the high level statement, it is helpful to also provide further contextual information:

- Who - Does the insight describe a specific user segment?

- Where - Is the insight specific to a geography or product?

- What - Is there a behaviour or observation that’s notable or problematic?

- Why - Provide a brief explanation as to why it’s notable or problematic.

3. Evidence

What evidence is there to support this insight? Which quantitative or qualitative analysis did you conduct that led to this conclusion? Evidence might include quotes or anecdotes from e.g. user interviews, secondary research, analytical data, or direct customer feedback. Providing evidence to support your insight gives your reader confidence that the knowledge they are consuming is based on facts, not opinion.

4. Recommendations

The most important aspect of a strong product insight is that it’s actionable. Without considering the next steps it’s difficult to realise the true value and potential impact of an insight. What opportunities does this insight represent? What actions are recommended that have resulted from this new knowledge? Recommendations can range from strategic and tactical opportunities to “how might we” statements. 

5. Tags

Now that you’ve established a consistent structure for insights, it’s imperative that you utilise tags and index that data. A robust taxonomy is particularly important when building knowledge repositories because they not only provide an opportunity to highlight new and higher level patterns in your data, they also make that knowledge more discoverable for others. Consumers of insights (be it product managers, or other researchers in your team, or wider product stakeholders), may not necessarily know exactly what they are looking for - a consistent tagging approach allows them to filter the data and apply existing knowledge in new ways.

To visualise this, let's consider the taxonomy of an insight:

A high res version of this graphic is also available here.

There are of course other factors worth considering when writing product insights:

- When was the insight captured? 

- Who has contributed to it throughout its lifetime?

- How far does it scale across your user base and products? 

- Are there any customers or markets that it does not apply to? 

- Can it be applied to another question or product?

With this mind, what does a great insight actually look like?

Since no organisation is the same, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to packaging up product insights. We’ve seen many different formats make a significant impact over the years. From one paragraph Slack updates to 1000 word Google docs. The critical factor to an insight’s success is that it covers the relevant structural foundations outlined above. 


In recent years, many teams have adopted a one-pager approach for packaging up and distributing insights. This powerful storytelling format encourages succinct articulation through a combination of words and visuals, and is particularly effective at engaging stakeholders.


An insight formatted as a one-pager might look something like this:

A high res version of this graphic is also available here.


Thinking beyond insights as a single entity

At Dualo, we continue to shape our understanding on how teams can ensure they are maximising the value and impact of their product insights. And whilst the techniques covered in this post are designed to help with this, it’s important to think beyond insights as single entities. 


Many product teams are moving towards shared knowledge repositories. The very best of these repositories are connected, living systems that are intricately threaded together. Systems that link insights to raw data, materials and fuller reports, as well as other relevant insights. Only through combining knowledge can we ensure that it becomes a single, more effective and coherent whole. Ultimately allowing us to understand how our discoveries fit into the bigger picture, as well as spotting new patterns in the data. 


So returning to the question we posed at the beginning of this article - “how can we ensure that we’re maximising the value and impact of our product insights?”. The answer is not as simple as building and sharing powerful insights in isolation - although structuring with consistency, simplicity and actionability in mind will certainly help to drive more value and impact.


In order to achieve user research excellence and truly maximise the value and impact of your product insights, you really need to be building an interconnected library of this knowledge, intelligently threaded together across tools and teams.


Using tags to classify your insights unlocks the ability to link data and understand the higher level patterns. Only through understanding the greater whole can we identify gaps and opportunities in our collective knowledge. Stay tuned for more on building powerful global taxonomies in an upcoming post (EDIT: Now available here).

Further reading


If you found this article useful be sure to grab a free copy of our User research is broken: A guide on how to level up your research operations playbook to see how writing product insights fits into the bigger picture of user research excellence, available for download here.

- Amplifying Research Impact - Spotify Insights

- Accelerating User Research: How We Structure Insights for Speed At Spotify

- The Power of Insights: A behind-the-scenes look at the new insights platform at Uber

- How Microsoft’s Human Insights Library Creates a Living Body of Knowledge

About Dualo

Dualo is an insights hub used by digital product teams to get more repeatable value from their user research and insights, so that stakeholders can make informed and timely decisions across the organisation. If you're interested in learning more, please request a demo and a member of our team will be in touch.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Robins

I’m a design, UX & strategy lead with a passion for storytelling. Proud member of Dualo’s founding product trio. Always seeking new inspiration.

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