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User research note taking is the process of recording information while conducting user research studies such as customer interviews, usability tests, stakeholder interviews, ethnographic studies, contextual inquiries, etc.
It’s important to take notes during user research sessions becaus...
Recording user research sessions is great! But it’s not easy to access information stored in recordings and transcriptions. A 15 minute long audio recording transcribes to ~2500 words, whereas, the key learnings from the same conversation can be summarised in a few sentences, and you don’t have t...
The hardest part about taking notes during research sessions is that it requires you to listen, make observations, and record information simultaneously. This takes significant cognitive effort, and practise — making easy to miss out on key points without adequate preparation.
Prepare a discussion guide. A discussion guide is a set of questions and topics that you would like to discuss with a participant during your research session. It typically consists of an introduction, warm-up questions, research questions and a debrief. You can use it a reference tool to help fa...
AEIOU stands for Activities, Environments, Interactions, Objects, and Users.
Activities includes actions with specific goals in mind, and the processes performed to achieve them.
Environments details the context and characteristics of the spa...
POEMS stands for People, Objects, Environments, Messages, and Services.
People — The demographics, roles, behavioral traits, and quantity of people in the environment
Objects — The items the people are interacting with, including furniture, d...
In an ideal scenario, it’s best to have at least one person being assigned the role of a dedicated note-taker. This makes it easy for the note taker to focus on keeping a record of what’s being discussed, while freeing up the moderator to guide the conversation.
In scenarios where you’re conducting the research session alone, you can try the following to make some extra time for note taking, without breaking the flow of the session:
Rephrase what you hear from the participant — this shows them that you’re actively listenin...
Immediately after each session take 10 mins to review the discussion guide and add notes you may have missed out on during the session. Elaborate the points you’ve written down in a way that anyone who read your notes is able to understand what you learned from the session. And add quotes to keep...
The purpose of note-taking is to keep track of what you learn. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to how you store your notes after your research sessions.
You can keep you user research notes organised by following a consistent naming convention, and folder structure to the data ...
To get the most value out of your research notes, you can consider adopting a dedicated solution for your user research that makes it easy to organise learnings in your notes, and share them with your team. By organising learnings from each session into buckets, you can start finding patterns in ...
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