Research synthesis

This post is #3 in a series of posts about my UX research about UX Maturity. For all other posts, see my UX Strategy page.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been cornering a variety of coworkers and chatting with them about how they relate to User Experience. Even though I’ve only worked there for two months and I’ve only had four interviews, I already have a good feel for the history and the current dynamic of UX at my company.

For each of these chats, I went in with a discussion guide and went out with pages and pages of notes and quotes.

The other day, I worked with my mentor Meaghan on tying to make sense of these notes. By the way, Meaghan’s company Mikata Health was recently selected for the AccelerateAB conference!

Setting up

To prepare for this synthesis activity, I broke up my notes into tweet-sized chunks. I then printed these onto cardstock and ended up with over 60 cards. I didn’t have access to a colour printer so I just marked each card with a highlighter so we knew which card was from which interview.


I’ve done card sorts before to help set up a site’s information architecture, but never to synthesize research.

The general idea is the same though: Take one card at a time and put it close to other cards that “feel” similar. Every now and then you’ll need to move one cluster close to another, or split up groups of cards. The fancy term for this is “cluster analysis”.

Eventually you’ll end up with groups of cards. Give these groups a name or a theme. You’ll end up with something like this.

The results of the sorting: Carefully arranged quotes and notes with themes

And then what?

A lot of interesting themes were revealed when we did this sorting activity. We came up with 14 of them.

There were a lot of insights that I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t done this exercise. It’s strange: I was the one who did all the interviews, yet it wasn’t until I saw everything laid out in front of me that these things clicked.

But even though lots did “click”, I still wasn’t sure where to go. Meaghan explained to me that this “fuzzy” feeling is normal.

My next task: digest it. I’m going to review my notes and my themes, then use this to guide my next round of interviews.

Stay tuned for more on my process and findings!

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