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A short sprint for UX research analysis

How we reviewed all our user research data in a one-day sprint session

Our epic affinity map

Last Friday, we breathed a collective sigh of relief as we finished up our last user interview, ending our in-person research for this phase of the project.

Last week, I wrote about themes sheets, a tool we created to start mapping themes during our research period. But even with that leg up, we still were left with a lot of data to look over again and generate insights from.

We decided to kickstart the somewhat unglamorous analysis phase with a sprint-inspired day of tightly scheduled and carefully selected activities to bring fresh eyes to our research and pull out threads to serve as the foundation of the design phase of our project. Below is an edited agenda from the day.

1. Download Learnings (45 minutes)

This activity comes from the IDEO toolkit (p. 77). We were each assigned different research sessions and activities to review all notes and artefacts from. Wherever possible, the team member reviewing the research was not present for that session or took a smaller role in it so they brought fresh eyes to the data.

While reviewing the research, we recorded insights, pain points and quotes on post-it notes, colour coded by research method, which we grouped on the wall behind us.

The goal of this activity was to review all our research once again for things that stood out, things we missed and user quotes.

Key to the success of this activity was a 90’s throwback playlist.

2. Affinity Mapping (20 minutes)

Next up, we took all those nicely sorted post-it notes and re-sorted them by theme to produce the picture at the top of this post. We looked for affinities among all our insights in order to articulate the key themes that emerged from our research.

3. Insight Statements (30 minutes)

This is another IDEO activity (p. 83). Reviewing our themes, we discussed what we found and rephrased them into short sentences. This allowed us to transform themes into concise, actionable insights.

4. Constructing Personas (60 minutes)

Our user research gave us a strong sense of who are users are, specifically in terms of their needs and values. After a quick lunch break, we used the method described in chapter 5 of Alan Cooper’s About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design to begin to create a set of personas.

This activity allowed us to focus our research insights sharply onto how they helped us understand who are our users are.

5. Problem Statement Matrix (30 minutes)

Our next two activities laid a foundation for developing a very preliminary set of use cases and scenarios. First, for each persona developed, we created several problem statements. These allowed us to articulate our users’ problems related to our product. This method comes from Work Differently Method Cards (p. 16).

This tweet illustrates our post-it woes. NEVER CHEAP OUT ON POST-ITS. We will never again forsake you, 3M.

6. User Stories (3o minutes)

We next took those problems and, at a high level, articulated how our product might solve those problems. We did so by creating user stories using a table with two columns: “User should be able to” and “so they can.” The first column describes something the user should be able to do, and the second describes the problem this ability addresses.

We aren’t quite ready to think in terms of features so we tried to keep this activity very high-level. Our goal was to generate use cases and scenarios by positing how the product might solve our users’ problems.

7. Preliminary Requirements Discussion (60 minutes)

Part of our course deliverable is to submit a preliminary requirements set, so we next had a quick discussion going through different possible requirements for the system that emerged from our research analysis.

8. Next Steps (15 minutes)

Always a major meeting key: where do we go from here? We generated a set of to-do’s to make sure that our meeting was actionable for all of us.

It was heartbreaking to take down all our post-its so we chose a fitting end-of-day soundtrack: Adele. P.S. Free idea I’d like to see, for someone with some time on their hands: curating images of discarded post-it notes from design projects.



Aditi, Therese & Danielle are UX students in Toronto finishing our Master’s with a capstone project in partnership with the MaRS Discovery District, reimagining the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit. We’re using Medium to capture our design process and all the lessons learned along the way.

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