Our Thoughts
Suchismita Ghosh
Design Writer
07 April, 2022 5 MIN READ

Synthesising UX Research

UX research is an essential process in design. It helps designers to understand a brand or product, analyse target users, consider possible prototypes and outcomes and ensure the collation of the data received. A systematic process for reviewing the data collected helps to reduce the missing out on invaluable insights. This is why there’s an additional step that enables designers to zoom out and look into their findings through a process known as Synthesis. In this blog, we will be discussing what synthesis is, its importance and what are the steps involved in the process of it.

Synthesis in UX Research

Synthesis is the step that comes after the designer has understood the problem statement. Once the UX research is conducted and sufficient raw data is received, it is converted to valuable insights. It is the process of creating intuitive concepts based on the facts that are being analysed. When considering UX research, it typically means the conversion of themes and ideas into meaningful information.

Simply put, synthesis is a process wherein a researcher tries to make sense of the data collected using UX research. It works to create a model of reality that includes journey maps, personas, and affinity diagrams to help gain a better understanding of the problem statement at hand and use it in both internal as well as external communication.

Importance of Synthesis in UX Research

Often, the importance of synthesis is undervalued, mostly because of short deadlines and tight budgets. This ends up leading designers to either forego the process altogether or rush through it to be able to ensure timely deliverables. What is often overlooked in the process is that synthesis makes it easier to take concrete actions on the research that has been conducted.

A necessary aspect of research lies in asserting its value through synthesis. It is the stage where great ideas happen. For example, if designers were to design a product that no one was going to use or interact with, it would lead to a complete waste of the project’s budget. Similarly, research and synthesis when conducted and there isn’t any concrete information available on the design and concepts, there is an equal risk involved. These are the risks that synthesis and analysis help to solve.

Steps to Synthesise in UX Research

Synthesis is a collective process that leads to creating a coherent summary of all the data gathered during UX research. Synthesis can be explained in 3 primary steps and they are -

Documentation of Interviews

Is one of the best ways to make sense of the data that’s been collected. Documentation helps to gather all the data that’s been collected from interviews in the head. The transcription of these interviews onto sticky notes and notebooks aids in making the information concise. It works best when each of the interviews is highlighted using different colored post-its. Due to the complexity of understanding a lot of data, being organised can help. By color-coding research, such as using a particular for a certain type of user or research activity. This will aid in creating concise and complete documentation of the UX research conducted. Also, breaking up the research conducted helps to ensure no data gathered during previous sessions is forgotten.

In this way, each research activity will have umpteen post-its consisting of every small insight received during research. Also, by sharing all the information gathered, wrong assumptions regarding user needs and wants can be addressed.

Organising Mess

As contradictory as it sounds, this is the stage when all the data is gathered to find common themes and patterns. Organising data helps the researcher build a common understanding of user needs. It helps UX teams reach a consensus about the most compelling insights and constant concerns being faced by end-users.

Gathering all the information saved in the documentation step, and moving the most convincing, and inspiring insights into a separate board helps review it easily. This is the stage of pruning and filtering because not all the data received during the previous discovery stage is of relevance.

It requires time, debates, and discussions to reach an emerging consensus. Thus, it is ideal to take things a little slower during this stage and have a fresh mind when interacting with the insights.

Thorough Interpretations

This is the step in which the UX team has to identify and interpret the groupings and relationships to make them detailed and informative. This is the stage in which the insights are thoroughly refined. Through the identification of groups and the development of connection, the introduction to a credible story on related elements is created. The aim is to acquire a concrete idea of user needs that can easily be conveyed in design opportunities.

A good understanding translates learnings from the user into concrete knowledge. While absolute accuracy isn’t necessary, having it helps in giving an abstract and definite form to the ideas. To ensure empathetic design principles, it is essential to understand the user and not work on preconceived biases.

Conclusion

Every problem in design is an opportunity. Framing the challenge properly and understanding the key insights available helps set up an innovative solution. While synthesis is an iterative and time-consuming process, the outputs from it aid in making better design decisions. When collated data and insights are passed onto design and product teams, there is a better and clearer understanding of not just the user needs and requirements but also a breaking of biases.

In conclusion, synthesis conducted in UX research is of prime importance in making easy-to-use, delightful designs. It is the process of sorting, organising, and altering raw data into useful information and is one of the most crucial and formidable steps in the UX research process.

 

TL;DR

  • What is Synthesis in UX Research?

Synthesis is the process wherein a researcher tries to make sense of the data collected using UX Research.

  • What is the importance of Synthesis?

Synthesising insights into higher-level themes helps in taking quick action on the research conducted.

  • What are the steps to synthesise in UX Research?

Synthesis in UX Research goes through three steps, which are - Documentation of interviews, Organising mess and Thorough interpretations.

Suchismita Ghosh
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