I've worked in organizations where there is ostensibly an appetite for user feedback, but bad news isn't taken well. Some examples of reactions:

  • "There's nothing we can do about that problem, let's build it now and fix it later. This is just an MVP!"
  • "You must have recruited the wrong participants."
  • "The president wants it this way, so we have to build it. Don't socialize these results to him."

I've heard many suggestions of having stakeholders watch users struggle with the product, or at least a highlight reel of the results; however, they usually don't have time to sit through user testing sessions, and feel like highlight reels are biased and selective.

These stakeholders are often the kind of people who react strongly to any bad news... they just don't want to hear it.

How might we best approach sharing out results in this case? Do we need to couch negative findings inside of positive feedback?

  • Have you tried quantifying the results. Something like x% people were not able to complete x% of tasks along with specific details about the demographics of participants. Makes it tough for them to argue back. If you can, match the demographic data with their target market, answers them when they say "you may have recruited the wrong participants". You can further compare these results with a competitor.
    – TDsouza
    Sep 12, 2021 at 7:48

3 Answers 3


Maybe try to set expectations ahead of time?

We work very hard to maintain objectivity. We’re not concerned about making you look good or bad. Our goal is to give you accurate and actionable information.

We’ll share our conclusions as well as the raw data that led to those conclusions. Sometimes the results are surprising. It’s up to you to decide whether you should go back to the drawing board, press ahead without changes, or make some strategic adjustments. It’s also up to you whether to take our conclusions at face value or dig into our data and methodology.

Remember, if the results always confirm your hypothesis there is no point in testing. And if you end up having to “kill your darlings” you’re in good company. It’s a feeling that every great artist and scientist knows well.

Having said that, we’re hoping for the best!


I came to the conclusion that some organisations must have a checkbox during testing for 'test UX'. So lovingly researched reports would be delivered.

And nothing further would happen (I guess because it was all too late in the development process to do anything about some of the issues that surfaced).

This happened a lot.

As I now work in-company I try to communicate to the development teams that they should involve us early in the development process - and that 'yes', problems can be spotted even if you are only at the wireframes stage.

So the answer is: get involved early in the process.


The sarcastic answer is to tell them they can take all the credit if they just trust you and stay out of the way.

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