5 Simple Steps to Spin Research Insights Into Actionable Product Design Possibilities

By Thomas DiNatale
November 12, 2021

You’ve done the research and the findings are fresh. A rhetorical question echoes through the office: Now what? After the qualitative and quantitative data are captured, answers analyzed and insights presented, the next logical step is to take those findings further. But, um…how?

Research findings are a paradox: incredibly illuminating yet, often times, completely void of clear next steps. You may have uncovered the motivations and behaviors behind your customers’ actions. But what do you do with that? You may have discovered why so many users aren’t converting at a key moment. But how do you fix that?

The answers to these looming questions — the actionable steps you can take to improve your product — are out there. It’s just a matter of getting everyone on your team together, separating your insights to the right places, creating customer need statements, and prioritizing. It’s less challenging than you think.

Step 1: Organize Your Product’s Findings Into Two Groups

That proverbial pile of insights isn’t going to organize itself; it’s not going to morph into product design solutions or user experience enhancements. It’s up to you and your team to take each insight and put it into its proper place so it can be made sense of later.

To do this means to look at each insight individually and ask: Is this something we can address in the short term? Or do we need more time to think about this?

Complete with voices from your team, gather your findings. Then separate them into one of two groups:

Group A: Findings you can take action on now
Group B: Findings that need deeper explanation and thought

Group A will be made up of insights that are lighter lift changes. These are going to be the straightforward, knock-’em-out improvements that are hardly debatable and wholly enriching to the user experience.

Group B will be made up of inherently heavier, intimidating, or otherwise head-scratching lifts. These insights will be trickier to tackle in a short amount of time because they’ll require getting widespread buy-in and relentless product design ideation. But more on that later.

Step 2: Take Care of the Easy Product Design Opportunities First

Once you’ve separated your findings into two groups, it’s time to get to work starting with Group A. These quick enhancements lead to quick wins. And quick wins turn into morale boosters that result in happier, more productive teams.

These easier enhancements typically fall into the usability and minor user experience improvements categories — the ones you can test to improve the overall UX.

For example, your insights may tell you there’s confusion in the onboarding process; at a certain point, it could be clearer with additional directional copy or by adjusting where a button sits. On their own these issues seem minor. But don’t be fooled. They can compound quickly and jeopardize your overall user experience. Ever heard of “death by a thousand paper cuts”? You get the picture.

Getting the ball rolling on these minor fixes is a big first step toward improving your product. Not only that, but it’s a shot in the arm for your team and crosses things off everyone’s to-do list at the same time.

Step 3: Dive Into Research Insights That Require Deeper Thought

With the small stuff out of the way, it’s time to face the more challenging group of insights. You can do this by breaking down each Group B finding into customer need statements.

These statement are rooted in your customers’ pain points and focuses on their ultimate goal with your product. It’s not the time to define a solution, but rather zero in on what needs to be solved, with empathy at the forefront.

Your statement should have three elements: A description of the customer, their pain point with the product, and their goal for using the product.

For example: Jasmin, a health-conscious 42-year old, wants to easily compare our food’s nutrition facts in order to feel confident about making healthier choices for her family.

This sample statement from a subscription food service defines the need for health-conscious customers to be able to compare nutritional facts in order to make the best choice for them and their loved ones. It does not prescribe a solution about how Jasmin might find nutrition facts in her experience with the product. We’ll get to solutions later during a team sketching session.

Step 4: Specify Successful Outcome Metrics for Your Product Design Opportunities

An actionable opportunity is nothing without a metric by which to measure its success. So, after shaping your Group B findings into customer need statements, it’s time to identify your successful outcome metrics.

These kinds of metrics allow your team to measure the effectiveness of your design solution. Pretty essential, right? A quality design solution will be one that solves the customer pain points and improves product performance at the same time.

Using the previous example of Jasmin, the health-conscious shopper who wants to compare nutrition facts, the success metrics would be tied to her goal of feeling confident that the food she is purchasing is a healthy choice for her family. So maybe that would look like an increase in average order value, or fewer interactions with customer service.

Successful outcome metrics are completely dependent on what your product offering is and what your team considers a win or loss. So think about what your product is trying to achieve or avoid.

On the same notecard as each customer need statement, add your determined successful outcome metrics. This way, all salient information is tied together in one place. Consider this your product opportunity card and hold on to it for the next step.

Step 5: Bring the Team Together, Form a Consensus, and Prioritize Product Design Opportunities

The hardest part is almost over. Now it’s time to bring your team together to get everyone on the same page and choose which product opportunities to prioritize.

And we mean everyone: Product managers. Designers. Marketing. Engineering. Customer experience. Every team has a unique voice and perspective that matters.

To kick things off, pin your product opportunity cards so everyone can see them. Walk your team through each customer need and how success will be measured.

Let people ask candid questions, and be open to making adjustments as needed. Be open to dialogue; with so many teams and voices represented there’s bound to be some disagreements or confusion. But allowing for discussions can surface real a-ha! moments that change the course of what’s prioritized and when.

After walking your team through all the product opportunity cards, give each team member five stickers to vote on the opportunities that have the biggest potential impact on your product.

With your product design possibilities all prioritized, your next rhetorical now what? is what kicks off your design ideation. Happy sketching!