How to Turn User Feedback into Actionable Next Steps5 min read
You Have User Feedback. Now What?
Congrats! You’ve completed a vital part of creating easy-to-use digital products—you observed and interviewed real people who use your site or app. Now that you have their feedback, it’s time to digest and analyze it, compare it to already existing data, and create a strategic plan of attack.
Getting Close and Personal with User Feedback
Analyzing user feedback is key to making confident, purposeful improvements.
Never take what users say at face value.
Users are bad at predicating how they’ll interact with digital products, and they’re not experts so they can’t tell you how to properly fix a problem. It is your job to interpret what they want through their actions and words. Preferably, you would have observed users interact with your product in their natural environment. It’s easier to understand and interpret their pain when
you see it first-hand. If you only talked to users, you’ll have to do a lot more interpretation and guesswork.
Identify patterns in behavior.
Pay close attention when multiple users agree on common pain points. When people share the same struggles, you’ve found something that needs to be addressed. Fixing these problems will likely bring your product the most value. When looking for patterns,
watch for workarounds. People reveal a great deal about the deficiencies in your site or app by how they creatively overcome barriers. Compare what you learn from interviews and observations with existing analytics data. This will further clarify
key themes, making it more evident what you should consider improving.
Organize key feedback.
Once you’ve identified patterns, consolidate and document feedback into a simple, easy-to-reference format. This can be more or less detailed depending on your project’s timeline and budget.
- Name and Describe the Problem
- Assess Severity — E.g., high, medium, or low.
- Show Evidence — Identify qualitative data (e.g., interview or observation data) or quantitative data (e.g., analytics, high-volume surveys, or usability test results) that supports your conclusion.
- Categorize Feedback by Type — E.g., content, interaction, design, functionality.
- Identify a Solution — If you have project budget, sketch an early idea.
Create documentation that can be referenced internally.
User feedback will be referenced over and over by your team. If you leave disparate, unorganized notes, your team will have a difficult time deciphering or remembering what you learned during user sessions. Even in an iterative process where you talk
to users and fix things on the fly, you’ll want to create simple, rapid-fire reference material.
Present your findings to prove the value of user research.
Stakeholders and leaders always have ideas about digital product direction and design. These ideas are usually internally focused which means they are rarely good for users. If you’re facing pushback or inertia from stakeholders or team members, prove the value of your ideas by presenting documented user research findings.
The data that you’ve gathered and organized is hard evidence of digital product flaws and their effect on business. Use it to create a solid, supported argument for user-centered product improvements. Even better, walk stakeholders through your process. Explain how you learned what the organization would have otherwise been unaware of. Persuading stakeholders and team members is far easier with proof, and you’ll have an abundance of it.
Use feedback to measure progress toward goals.
You can’t understand how well you’re reaching your product goals if you don’t measure against them. With user feedback in hand, you have evidence that proves how your product is performing. When comparing feedback to your goals, different types of data might be more suitable than others.
If you have a goal like “Lessen User Frustration,” direct observations, conversations with users, and survey results will be the best data source. If you have a goal like “Lower Help Center Call Volume or Call Time,” then call center analytics are your best bet.
If you show leadership that substantive progress is being made toward strategic goals, you are far more likely to get more budget for further research activities. You’ll also gain credibility to help you persuade internal stakeholders to align their
opinions to what’s best for users.
Fix high value, low effort items first.
When planning next steps, focus on the improvements that will bring the most value to your users and will be the easiest to implement. If the issue has a high severity rating but is easy to fix, then that’s a prime opportunity for changes that will greatly benefit users.
However, don’t write off high-severity, high-effort items just because more resources will be required. If an issue badly affects your users’ experience and puts a dent in the bottom line, you’ll need to devote time and attention there
no matter what. You’re looking for clarity. If you must expend effort, you must know why you are doing it and how it brings value to the organization.
Keep the Feedback Coming
When it comes to user feedback, the most important next step is to never stop doing it. A user-centered perspective backed by data will help you make the decisions and adjustments that work best for your organization. Fixing things changes your product,
which means you need more feedback to keep evolving.
Don’t stop the feedback train—make user research an ongoing, regular part of your process. You can never learn too much from users and their feedback will always steer you toward a better, more usable digital product.