UX research is integral to building products that users love and cannot live without. Whether your organization is launching a new product or taking an existing one to the next level, research is that skeleton key that can unlock your user’s needs, preferences, pain points and mental models.
However one drawback is that you might be accumulating all of that research and not really knowing what to do with it. Since it can be difficult to tackle everything at once, prioritisation becomes extremely important. Another important thing to keep in mind is that not all UX research findings are equally important. So then how do you choose which of the many findings your research team uncovers and focuses on first?
The answer simply lies in prioritisation. Carefully evaluate each of your findings after every round of research and focus on finding solutions for the features and fixes that will make the most amount of impact for both your business and your end user.
While it can be difficult for teams to know what to prioritise first for many reasons – such as placing equal importance on all user feedback, and because different stakeholders have different priorities, it is important to find a way to bring these various objectives into harmony without losing sight of what really matters – your end users and their happiness and satisfaction.
Some user requests are bound to be more representative of your broader user base than others. Thus it does not make sense to waste resources on prioritising features that only matter to one or two detractors. The best way to know what to focus on is by applying rigorous statistics and understanding the true significance of your findings. Then determine what really matters most to a majority of your users.
Sometimes users needs can get lost in the shuffle of competing internal priorities. To combat the challenge of different priorities for different stakeholders, and struggling to align priorities against a set of common objectives, find a way to get aligned to the bigger goal without asking your team to shed their discipline specific objectives.
4 Ways to Effectively Prioritise Research Findings by Severity
Properly prioritising research findings is a nuanced undertaking that requires careful thought and consideration. These 4 tips can help you get started in the right direction.
1. Get aligned to the bigger goal
Different stakeholders are bound to have different concerns – which will impact the way in which they consider research findings. Therefore to be able to prioritise effectively, you’ll need to agree on a set of common objectives to weigh findings against. This does not mean that team members need to abandon their individual priorities, rather it means combining them together in a way that allows everyone to get aligned to the bigger goal and agree on what to work on first.
For example, let’s say your UX team’s research indicates the need to add a larger feature. In order to meet that clear demand and stay true to internal priorities, you may decide to take a phased approach that allows you to stay on track with existing deadlines and reduce the development team’s initial investment.
Your aligned vision should flow from your big-picture business goals and be represented in your product roadmap.
2. Know your user’s priorities
To understand what the pain points are for a majority of your users, assess what percentage of your users is really impacted by each issue. You can leverage statistical analysis and further testing when necessary to make sure you and your team are clear on what the biggest pain points and opportunities are.
3. Consider impact versus effort
Assessing UX research findings through the lens of impact versus effort can be extremely useful. The more effort required to implement each finding, the more impact is needed to justify your team’s investment in terms of time and resources. Low effort, high impact items are low hanging fruit that can be easily implemented. But even low effort items that don’t have a lot of impact deserve to be implemented faster because they take much lesser time and you can capture those limited results immediately. For example, fixing confusing copy on your account creation page will take much less time than redesigning the entire account creation UI. And even though it has limited impact, they can be seen much faster and at a lower cost.
4. Develop a prioritisation rubric
Work with your team to develop a prioritisation rubric that helps you systematically sort through findings after each round of research.
When developing this rubric consider the following facets;
- Frequency: Will this issue affect users every single time they log into your product, or only every now and again?
- Severity: To what extent does this issue disrupt task completion? Is it a complete “blocker,” or does it simply create some additional friction? Users not being able to “like” a photo is much less concerning than users not being able to set up a new account or share assignments with instructors.
- Prevalence: What proportion of users are likely impacted by this issue?
- Effort: How much work is required to address this issue?
- Prominence: Is the issue related to your product’s core functionality or a flagship feature? Or is the usability problem limited to a less central “nice to have” feature?
Your team is your biggest asset when it comes to prioritisation. Ensure that you have a conversation with them to understand how to do strategic prioritisation. Identify the single most important finding and the solution for it, followed by a short list of high-priority items before digging into the full set of findings. This enables stakeholders to quickly key in on the most pressing findings without getting lost in the weeds. Ensure that you prioritise their needs even as you work to satisfy internal stakeholders demands.