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Philip Watson

Philip Watson

Akendi Alumnus

We talked to our users. Now what?

Congratulations! You’ve completed a research study, which found a bunch of recommendations for your product or service, has been presented to your stakeholders and everyone is happy. Except… now what?

At the end of the presentation everyone was all smiles – lots of nodding, mutters of “I never realised that before” and “This all makes sense now.” Couldn’t have gone better, yet you notice that no action points came out of the presentation. Worse than that, there wasn’t even an agreement to reconvene to determine the impact of your research on the direction of the business.

With a sinking feeling, you realise that you’re going to have to spend the next few days negotiating with people’s diaries to schedule some time to discuss a date to kick-off a possible new project to start looking at how the business might potentially begin to provisionally assimilate the data you’ve uncovered.

You know full well that this is how projects die – no one takes responsibility (everyone already has so much to do, right?), so the lessons learnt from the users don’t go anywhere other than in the general pool of ‘things that we know’ that the company has as their general background knowledge. This feels like a missed opportunity to you and, frankly, a bit of a waste of your time.

Well good news, all is not lost! Here are some tips and tricks that can help you strike while the iron is hot and give your users the impact they deserve.

Things to do immediately

There is an assumption here; that your research has actionable outcomes.

  • Link research outcomes to business goals and metrics.
    • It’s a very compelling narrative to state “This research shows that…”
      • “Relabelling the sign-up button would increase conversion, potentially by 30%, bringing in more revenue.”
      • “Being more transparent about our T&Cs is likely to increase retention, resulting in more daily active users.”
      • “Users felt that our prototype feature was not meeting any of their unmet needs; we should consider suspending further development.”  
  • Plot research outcomes on effort/impact scale. Assign each outcome a value (low to high, relative to the other outcomes), for the effort to implement and the potential impact on the goals of the business.
    • Being able to see where they can get the most calories for their coins helps project owners avoid decision-inertia.
    • Take the low effort/high impact outcomes first and give them to operational colleagues to implement in the next day/sprint.
    • Take the high effort/high impact outcomes and give them to project owners to plan in future projects.
    • Take the low effort/low impact outcomes and give them to operational colleagues to implement at a convenient time in the future.
    • Take the high effort/low impact outcomes, write them on the back of a used envelope, fold three times and place in the recycling.
  • Break down outcomes into granular next-reasonable-steps
    • This is inspired by David Allen’s Getting Things Done method.
    • Essentially, you remove the barrier to a vague action by specifying the next feasible step on the way to completing the overall action.
    • So, for the vague action of “Start new project” you might first need to get budget approved, and to do that you might need to speak to Sandy in finance, but Sandy is going to want to see cost projections, and to do that you need to have a list of things that you’re going to spend money on in this project. Your very first next step is “Write a list of project activities.”
  • Translate next steps to time-based actions and assign them to people
    • Having a well-defined action that needs to be completed by a specific time makes it much easier for people to make the time to complete the action.
  • Demonstrate how the outcomes impact projects that others are working on
    • Many research outcomes will have relevance outside the initial project you are working on. Customers don’t like the labelling for your buttons? Does this affect the design system? Should marketing be informed? Are other projects running concurrently that are using the rejected labelling?

Things to do differently next time

  • Have you brought your stakeholders with you? If not, there’s a danger that you may have been doing busywork. Next time make sure they’re on board and feel invested in what you’re doing
  • Senior stakeholder doesn’t seem bothered by what you’ve done? Arrange a one-to-one to discuss the problems that they are interested in, and how you could help address them
  • Regularly share your research outcomes to the entire org, in a newsletter format – intranet/Slack/Teams/email
  • Add outcomes/insights to a research database and promote this to your org so that people get used to dipping in and out to see if there is any research that might impact their project


Follow these tips to ensure that your research has the impact it deserves. Which is your favourite? How do you spread the research knowledge in your organisation? We’d love to hear about it!

Philip Watson

Philip Watson

Akendi Alumnus


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.