User Research at Scale

Having a tactical plan to synthesize and analyze qualitative user research is not easy to find. User research at scale is one topic that is not widely written about in the blogs and books. A couple of our projects have fallen into this category at Deloitte Digital – almost to over hundreds of user interviews across different organizations for one product or platform.

It is critical to think through your repository first. How are you going to capture all the user research in one place? Will it be shared amongst your team? Broader stakeholders? Not only will your clients and customers ask to review this information down the line, but for your own analysis it’s easy to reference and use as your main source of truth to formulate personas and journey maps.

Steps to capturing user research:

1. Capturing interview findings and insights in Excel

Our team used Google Sheets to enter in all our findings from interviews, which enabled us to easily share our findings, export, run analyses on, and summarize. Other teams have used Trello as their shared canvas but for us, Excel worked and the entire team was already familiar with its capabilities.  

2. Coding it and theme it real-time

We coded each of the findings and key quotes so they could be easily filterable by process step, by type of insights, etc.  We also categorized each key quote / insight by the interviewee's organization, level, and then the insight by phase, process, category (e.g. pain point, behavior, needs, satisfaction point, workaround) and summarizing phrase, and other notes.

3. Analyzing it by numbers and themes

Be able to run calculations on the number of pain points, etc. was helpful in communicating our findings and the scale to which we heard feedback on each theme.

We used a separate brainstorming session to come up with themes we were hearing from our research. Throughout the project, we consistently referred back to these themes in presenting to stakeholders across the organization – pulling direct quotes from our Excel.

4. Creating a summary of all the findings for reporting out to clients, stakeholders, customers, etc.

One of the most important reasons for user research and personas is for stakeholders and clients to understand user needs, behaviors, and motivations – to receive their buy-in and their collective rationale for improving a product or service. Personas and journey maps are a way for these stakeholders to connect to the narrative of users and how they interact with the product and service – especially how new and improved designs will impact them.

5. Using it as reference throughout the design and development process for the product lifecycle

We always brought it back to our user research and personas, whether it was when we came up with our design tenets, when we were wireframing, or prototyping and iterating on the product.