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The UX research report is NOT the deliverable
Maximising existing research

The UX research report is NOT the deliverable

In this post we tackle a common misconception that the research report is the final deliverable to UX research. We suggest ways that your work can continue to generate further value far beyond the report, and provide some guidance to ensure that your research delivers maximum impact and actionability.

Dan Robins
May 18, 2023

You've tirelessly navigated mountains of data through a maze of frustrations, and occasional epiphanies. And now, armed with a trove of insights and caffeine-fueled determination, you find yourself at the juncture where all your hard work converges.

Enter the UX research report. 

But does the work truly end here?

The UX research report helps teams present and share key insights from their study, and communicate their recommendations on what to consider next.

Research reports come in a variety of formats. From slide deck presentations, to traditional reports, wiki pages, emails, and even Slack messages. More recently, teams have also begun using more interactive formats, such as the research microsite

But regardless of the format, let’s get one thing clear. When done right, the research report is an incredibly powerful tool for aiding decision makers and driving impact. 

Yet there is a common misconception that the research report itself, is the ‘final deliverable’.

Outcomes over output.

Too often we see researchers reach the ‘end’ of a research project, sharing their findings, and promptly moving on to the next research question. We understand that deadlines can be demanding, and there is constant pressure to prepare for the next initiative. 

However, simply sharing a report seldom does justice to your efforts, or your insights. After all, who wants their hard work viewed only once, then relegated to languishing on a shared drive, gathering dust?  

In reality, the report is simply a communication method. Its primary purpose is to present findings in a clear and actionable way (more on this shortly), but the work shouldn’t stop there. Placing too much emphasis on the report can cause teammates and stakeholders to overlook the true potential of your research.

The true goal of UX research is to reduce risk and enable better decisions across the organisation. The report is just one tool that helps teams to achieve this goal, and there are so many other ways that UX researchers can bring value to an organisation beyond it.

In fact, after the research report has been shared, there are many ways that we can continue to generate further impact and value from our work. For example: 

Measure success

Strive to measure the ROI of your research. Another prevailing myth is that it’s not possible to measure the true impact of research. Whilst measuring research ROI can be challenging, this is simply not true. For example, by tracking the usage data of new research-driven features, gathering customer feedback, and collaborating with stakeholders to align your research goals with business objectives, you can gain a better understanding of the impact of your research, and use this data to get buy-in for conducting more.

Leverage patterns across your reports

High maturity research teams identify wider patterns and opportunities across research reports by cross-referencing findings from other initiatives. Taking a macro view and leveraging insights in this way can unlock new opportunities, and help to meet the changing needs of your users and the wider organisation. Some dedicated research repositories streamline and even automate this process by categorising and organising not only reports, but also individual insights.

Continue building on your insights

Strive to proactively conduct continuous discovery to iterate on your findings. Insights evolve over time, and by revisiting them we can not only spot emerging trends and patterns, we can also start to build upon, challenge, or even disprove previous findings. This helps to develop a clearer understanding of the bigger picture surrounding our customers and business. By utilising a research repository with deep search capabilities, you can streamline this process and spare yourself from the constant need to manually search through existing research reports for relevant insights.

These are just 3 examples of how you can continue to generate further impact from your work, but hopefully it’s clear that the value of UX research can go far beyond the report. 

And whilst it's true that the research report is not the final deliverable, there are of course many benefits to creating one. In fact, without a report, it can be extremely difficult to action any of the examples above. 

So when creating your next research report, here are a few considerations to bear in mind in order to maximise its long-term value and impact.

How to maximise the impact and long term value of your reports

Keep it concise and actionable

Stakeholders and fellow researchers have limited time to go through page upon page of your entire process, particularly if the research is not brand new. The report should be concise, easy to read and understand, and have clear recommendations that stakeholders can act on. As you’re writing, be specific about the insights you’ve discovered and the tangible implications they might have on your organisation.

Provide context

It's important to provide context for your research findings, including details about the research question, methodology, time period, and any limitations of the research. Make sure to keep this fairly light in terms of word count though, and always present the key actionable takeaways up top - don’t bury the lead!

Make it attention grabbing

Use alternative formats like videos, audio clips, live data visualisations, interactive prototypes, and direct quotes. By mastering the art of storytelling, you can increase the overall impact of your research within the organisation. When your reports are highly engaging, they help you to generate interest, leading to the wider sharing and visibility of your findings.

Make your reports accessible

Research reports should be easy to access. Ensure that the report is accessible to all stakeholders. This applies to the now, but also for the future when the report may become relevant again - no stakeholder likes chasing a researcher for ‘that report you shared last quarter’- make it easy to resurface.

In conclusion

If done well, leveraging the UX research report can be a very effective vehicle for delivering insights and driving impact. But it's important to remember that it's not the final deliverable.

Ending our involvement in a project at the point in which a report is shared is premature. It places too much emphasis on the output rather than the potential outcomes. The true value of UX research lies in its ability to reduce risk and inform better decisions, and there are many ways researchers can support this pursuit far beyond the report.

So the next time you're about to share your research findings, just remember that the true impact of your work might not yet have fully revealed itself.

Further reading 

The end of the research report as we know it?

3 ways to maximise the ROI of user research

Product Discovery Basics: Everything You Need to Know

Writing UX Research Reports and Presentations

Don’t Bury the Lead in Your Presentations

About Dualo

At Dualo, we understand the value of leveraging existing knowledge to help teams improve their research process, which is why we’ve developed a product that helps you do just that.

Our platform allows you to effortlessly deep search across all your existing research documents – providing you and your teammates with access to valuable insights in seconds.

So if you're ready to start fully leveraging your existing knowledge, request a demo today and a member of our team will be in touch.

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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