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What is user research excellence and is it achievable by any team?
Research excellence

What is user research excellence and is it achievable by any team?

User research excellence is an approach followed by today’s best product teams to maximise the value and impact of their user research, and with the right tools and techniques it’s something that can be accomplished by any organisation.

Nick Russell
October 6, 2021

What is user research excellence?

User research excellence is an approach followed by today’s best product teams to maximise the value and impact of their user research.

This involves the execution of three core jobs in a continuous and iterative manner: 

- Consolidating research findings across the teams and tools within an organisation

- Collaborating with other researchers to discover actionable insights; and 

- Distributing valuable knowledge to other teams and wider product stakeholders

Organisations operating at this level are able to leverage their collective knowledge across teams to drive more informed product decisions, ultimately enabling the delivery of truly remarkable products and services.

Achieving user research excellence

In order to achieve true user research excellence, teams must accomplish all three of the jobs outlined above. But what does this mean in practice?

Let’s cover each stage of the research excellence flywheel in a little more detail and touch on how you can start applying this approach to your user research today.


By definition, consolidation is the act of combining a number of things into a single more effective or coherent whole. And it’s the consolidation of user research across the teams and tools within your business that allows you to start creating a collective knowledge on your users, and take the first step towards achieving user research excellence.

This means collecting together all of your existing research reports and supporting materials into a central repository, ideally using a well-defined collection of tags to help with indexing these studies for all future research requests (does responding to that classic “Can you send me everything you have on x” request spring to mind as you’re reading this?).

Classifying your research data using a strong taxonomy allows you to make your existing research more findable, as you’re able to search and filter for information by tag on top of searching by keyword only. This also lays the foundation for future research to become more valuable too. All helping to better connect yourself and stakeholders with the research that’s been made available across your organisation.


The next step in the research excellence flywheel is one of discovery, the discovery of actionable insights aka the key conclusions from your user research, articulated in a way that's accessible and digestible for wider stakeholders.

A high value insight will outline clearly what's been learned and about which type of user. It should also link to any evidence that supports the conclusion and provide recommendations on the tactical steps or “how might we” statements to consider next.

Actionable insights are one of the most powerful tools organisations have in informing the next set of successful business decisions. They help take research out of the research tools themselves and make the findings from research easier for non-research stakeholders to understand and use to create real impact.


The final step in the research excellence flywheel is all about the distribution of actionable insights to the key decision makers across your organisation. Sharing research findings with others in a way that can be easily accessed and resurfaced in future as required, so that you’re able to maximise both the impact and value of your user research.

This means speaking directly with your key stakeholders to understand exactly how they want to interact with the findings from user research and designing your communications to meet these requirements. As examples, are people requesting this information on Slack? or do they prefer receiving regular updates by email or via a presentation? It's also worth exploring what tools and techniques the other researchers across your company are finding useful in keeping wider stakeholders informed and engaged.

Today’s best teams are building their own centralised insight repositories to help with this. Repositories that people across their organisation can use to self-serve the answers to common research questions, without having to come first to the researchers themselves and pulling them away from doing further valuable research.

Closing the loop

Eventually the learnings from distributed research, by way of stakeholder feedback, the results of product and marketing experiments, or the outputs from new research should be fed back into the body of knowledge you’ve built up around your users. This closes the loop on the research excellence flywheel, fuelling the discovery and distribution of further insights across the organisation.

How teams are approaching user research excellence today

Teams today generally make use of a number of tools to help manage the consolidation, discovery, and distribution of the insights from their user research. Often using a combination of research tools, shared drives, sheets, wikis, and chat tools to accomplish this.

Most of these solutions help somewhat with the consolidation of research, but typically fall short when it comes to sharing actionable insights with wider teams and stakeholders. They also tend to become difficult to maintain and keep fresh, failing to scale well in line with an organisation’s research efforts. Why? Because the tools used to build these solutions weren't designed specifically with the management of insights in mind.

A small number of product organisations, including Uber and Microsoft, have developed their own dedicated insight platforms which are being used to help these companies accelerate user research excellence at scale, however these systems aren't publicly available.

With the right tools and techniques any organisation can quickly start to level up their research operations and move towards achieving true user research excellence, it's why we're building Dualo. So perhaps the question we should really be asking is 'how quickly do you want to dedicate yourself to achieving it?'.

Thanks for reading and happy researching!

You can learn more about the tools that organisations are using today to build their own insight repositories by downloading a free copy of our User research is broken: A guide on how to level up your research operations playbook, available here.

Nick Russell

I'm one of the Co-Founders of Dualo, passionate about research, design, product, and AI. Always open to chatting with others about these topics.

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