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User testing reports are often pages long, lets face it how often do clients actually read this. What interesting ways can you share the results of user testing?

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Reports are fine, I do it for myself at least, so I keep my thoughts consistent.

But for clients, you have to do presentations.

It doesn't matter what your presentation medium is, powerpoint, prezi or an infographic. Or perhaps you just dance with a marker in your hand in front of a whiteboard or a big ol' sheet of paper. In lieu of a whiteboard, just bluetack some paper on a wall (yeah, I did this a few times, esp. when I was in my first startup, in a university dormitory).

A presentation is a kind of a performance, hence the rules of performance apply: you can act, or be honest, you could be funny or dramatic, but in general, you're doing a performance and you have to keep up the interest of your audience.

Tell stories. It doesn't matter if the stories are fictional or non-fictional.

Stories are what keep people's interest up. It's pretty likely that they had a children's room, with a mother or granny or whoever who read stories to them. It's pretty likely that they have best friends who they tell stories to. It's pretty likely that they read newssites which tell stories to them.

Good stories are always about people. You're a UX designer. Your stories have to be about users.

It doesn't matter if you say: "Listen, I have to tell you something about users. " or "Listen, I have a story for you. Take Alice and Bob, two youngsters in their 20s with a mobile phone". Or you say: "Listen, we had this user testing, and one of the participants.."

It doesn't matter if it's the general case, it's about fictional characters, or an actual person. Keep telling stories, set contexts.

Have the reports to back you up. You need that data. But don't present just the data, it's not interesting.

Of course, sometimes you have to do "offline presentations", that is, you have to provide documents which will be read by people in their "spare time" and it's obvious they don't have spare time for you to say a few things in twenty minutes. It's likely they have about 5 minutes for your whole project per week or even per month.

It usually has a great negative effect for the project as a whole, but still, you have to keep them engaged, you have to create a reading material which makes them interested even when they're just skimming through, as that's what they'll do.

You need reports here because they'll prone to make some pretty stupid consequences as they don't invest the time to actually understand the things you say. Here, reports help to keep your back, "yes, but did you read my report as well? on page 22, it says that...".

There's a science on how to make reading materials which keeps people engaged, it's called literature: you have to understand your readers however, to achieve that: you have to understand their context, and more importantly, their interests.

Perhaps they're not that much interested in UX anyway, and they trust you in general that you do this job just fine, just prove them that you'll bring the profits they need, or you're at least worth the money.

At the end of the day,it's the customer who pays you, but the user is your stakeholder anyway. You have to create a customer experience to keep you employed, but you have to create a user experience to make the world a better place.

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Presentations are one step better than reports, but I have often found that it is hard to get everyone together in one room (or one gotomeeting). Your clients also have to trust you and your recommendations (so clips and quotes are absolutely necessary). If you can't get your clients to participate in the study, then a presentation is an ok fallback. Overall, I think you will a positive correlation between client involvement in the study and recommendations that are implemented. –  Andrew Nov 4 '12 at 16:12
    
@Andrew: in my practice, working in Europe for big companies, the client involvenment you describe belongs to the realm of science fiction unfortunately. Yes, it would be great, just as world peace, but it's utopistic and it needs your personal charm or whatever just to make them understand that users matter. The usual case is that they pay but don't care, and completely disregard user testing results –  Aadaam Nov 4 '12 at 16:43
    
I don't think it's as utopistic as you may think. For example, this is what works at Google (ask Tomer Sharon, author of It's Our Research). The profession is gradually moving away from producing deliverables. I was trained and mentored to moderate studies, produce reports, and present results to clients. It's hard to break out of that cycle, but UX is more of a philosophy than a job title. We need to accept that everyone should be involved in UX projects. That said, I do like your recommendations for presentations :-) –  Andrew Nov 5 '12 at 17:06

I like to do a 'show reel' of clips of the screen recording which illustrate the points made in the report.

If you embed them in say powerpoint you can give a brief text description of what's going on.

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Don't do a report.

Tomer Sharon (Google), Jeff Gothelf (New Context) and many others have recently been talking about the ineffectiveness of reports and other deliverables. Involving stakeholders in every step of user research, including analysis, will improve buy-in and the overall results.

Clients should be watching the usability testing study and taking notes. Provide all clients and other team members with the same notetaking spreadsheet that has a row for each usability problem with a column to mark each participant that encountered the problem. Also, have a column for potential solutions to each problem. Hold regular debrief sessions to talk about the problems that were found.

At the end of the study, hold another debrief session to talk about solutions. Consider using a technique like the KJ Method (aka affinity diagramming) to organize findings and solutions. The end output of the study will be a recording of the meeting (video and audio) and photos.

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This is pretty much what I do when at all possible. It works stupidly well. Test in the morning - everybody observes. Notes on stickies. Affinity diagram in the afternoon. Actions on the to do list at the end of the day. –  adrianh Nov 2 '12 at 10:54
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Writing a report makes you think things through. It's tedious but it does deliver a lot more analysis. –  PhillipW Nov 2 '12 at 22:34
    
@PhillipW In my answer, I left out the fact that you can/should still do some analysis on your own (similar to what you would do when creating a report). If you can, do the analysis before the final debrief session to make sure all your findings are covered in the recommended changes. –  Andrew Nov 4 '12 at 16:07

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