What Are User Insights?

What Are User Insights?

The Importance of User Insights

What are user insights, and why are they so critical in product development?

User insights encapsulate the invaluable data and feedback acquired from user interactions, shedding light on your customer’s preferences, behaviors, and expectations. This not only shapes the development process but also empowers product managers to make informed decisions that resonate with their target audience. When focusing on relevant, timely needs, harnessing this information can be a game-changer for improving your feature roll-outs and new product launches.

Improve the Product Development Process

To consistently build excellent products that provide solutions to real user problems, product teams must build their backlog around deep user insights. This ultimately improves the product development process by reducing wasted work and aligning product team output with business goals.

By relying on assumptions instead of data, teams invest substantial time and effort in developing products or features that may ultimately fall short in the market. Deep user insight means that every product team member has a cohesive understanding of what users really need. Looking for a step-by-step guide to gathering deep user insights?

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Enhance User Experience

When product features are developed based on customer motivations, your end-users are bound to be more excited about your next release announcement. More users will adopt the feature or product, while previously inactive (or even unhappy) customers will see the value in your solution, reducing churn. Plus, being the first in the market to identify and address unmet customer needs will attract new potential customers. 

Now that we’ve explained why user insights matter, let’s dive into how to collect, gather, and analyze them to make more-informed business decisions.

Types of User Insights

Behavioral Insights

These actions and interactions show how individuals engage with a product. Analyzing user behaviors provides valuable data on preferences, usage patterns, and potential pain points, guiding product developers to make informed decisions for optimal user experiences (UX).

Here’s how to gather behavioral insights:

  • User tracking: Tracking user interaction (clicks, navigation paths, time spent on features, etc.) using analytics tools allows you to observe how users engage with features in real-time, providing quantitative data on their behavior. 
  • User testing: Usability studies or A/B testing or beta testing for usability provides qualitative insight on user actions to collect feedback on the UX.

Attitudinal Insights

Attitudinal insights focus on understanding the mindset, perceptions, and preferences of users. By exploring users’ attitudes and sentiments, product teams can uncover motivations, expectations, and emotional responses. This knowledge is instrumental in tailoring products to align with users’ preferences and creating a more resonant UX.

Here’s how to gather attitudinal insights:

  • Surveys & interviews: Surveys can be designed to gauge user opinions and preferences systematically, while interviews offer a more in-depth exploration of attitudes through open-ended conversations. 
  • User feedback sessions: Whether through customer support channels or dedicated feedback mechanisms, these provide a continuous source of attitudinal insights when pre-planned and scheduled.

Line of Inquiry

This involves posing targeted questions to users to uncover specific information. This method is a proactive approach to gather insights, allowing product teams to address particular concerns or explore potential improvements. By framing inquiries strategically, teams can extract valuable user feedback that directly informs decision-making in the product development process.

Here’s how to gather line of inquiry insights:

  • User interviews or focus groups: Craft targeted questions to address specific aspects of user experience. 
  • In-app pop-up surveys: Again, it’s all about understanding particular user concerns or preferences, so why not incorporate a feedback mechanism directly in your product?

How to Gather User Insights

Primary Research Methods

Primary research methods involve direct engagement with users to gather firsthand information. Techniques such as surveys, interviews, usability testing, and observational studies fall under this category. These methods provide fresh and specific insights directly from the user base, offering a deeper understanding of their behaviors, attitudes, and expectations.

Secondary Research Methods

Secondary research methods focus on analyzing existing data, often collected by others for different purposes. This includes studying market reports, undergoing a comprehensive competitor analysis, and looking through all sources of submitted user feedback, including but not limited to:

  • Transcripts of calls with customer-facing teams (e.g., CX, sales, etc.)
  • Customer Support tickets and inquiries
  • Online reviews 
  • Emails

While not obtained from direct user interactions, secondary research provides valuable context and background information that can supplement primary research findings, contributing to a more holistic perspective on user insights.

Tools for Collecting User Insights

Before diving into the different types of tools that can help you collect both quantitative and qualitative data, let’s consider some best practices and selection criteria.

  • Regularly update and adapt tool selections based on evolving research needs.
  • Ensure compliance with data privacy regulations when using these tools to collect user information.
  • Combine insights from multiple tools for a holistic understanding of user behavior and preferences.
  • Choose the right mix depending on your research objectives; user testing for qualitative observations, surveys for broad (and targeted) feedback, and analytics for quantitative metrics offer a well-rounded approach.

Keeping in line with these best practices, you also want your user insights tools to be:

  • User-friendly: Assess the tools for ease of use in creating, deploying, and analyzing user insights.
  • Able to integrate: Consider tools that seamlessly integrate with existing systems or other tools to streamline the analysis process.
  • Customizable: Look for tools that allow customization of surveys or testing scenarios to align with specific research goals.
  • Real-time: Choose tools that provide timely and actionable insights and feedback, especially during ongoing product development cycles.

Now, what are user insights tools that you should be considering?

User Testing Tools

These allow product and engineering teams to observe and analyze real users interacting with a product or prototype. Platforms like UserTesting, PlaybookUX, and Lookback offer features for remote usability testing. By enabling direct observation of user interactions, you can uncover usability issues, validate design decisions, and gain qualitative feedback.

Survey Tools

These are instrumental in gathering quantitative and qualitative data by creating and distributing structured questionnaires. Widely used tools include SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, and Typeform, all of which have user-friendly interfaces for designing surveys and collecting responses. By efficiently collecting large-scale feedback, you can measure user satisfaction, identify trends, and better understand user preferences through targeted questions.

Analytics Tools

These provide quantitative insights into user behavior by tracking and analyzing data related to website or app usage. Popular options for monitoring user engagement, traffic patterns, and conversion metrics include Google Analytics, Mixpanel, and Adobe Analytics. By gathering quantitative data on user interactions, you can identify popular features, track user journeys, and make data-driven decisions for product optimization.

Analyzing User Insights

Take into account the following best practices and key considerations when analyzing your gathered data: 

  • Ensure data accuracy and reliability before initiating any analysis.
  • Regularly update and refine the analysis methods to adapt to changing research requirements. *
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams (particularly customer-facing ones) to gain diverse perspectives and insights during the analysis process.
  • Use a combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses for a more comprehensive understanding of user insights.

* User insights analysis should be an iterative process, with regular reviews and adjustments based on evolving user needs and product goals. Feedback loops and continuous monitoring contribute to ongoing improvements and innovation in product development.

Data Segmentation Approach

Data segmentation involves dividing end-users into distinct segments based on specific criteria (e.g., location, frequency of use, or even highest paying accounts). This enables a more granular understanding of user behavior within specific demographics, leading to targeted improvements and personalized user experiences.

Cross-Tabulation Analysis

This involves the comparison of two or more variables to identify relationships and patterns within the data. Cross-tabulation helps you discover connections between different data points, helping in identifying trends, dependencies, and potential factors that might impact user behavior.

Qualitative Analysis

Qualitative analysis involves the interpretation of non-numerical data, such as user feedback from interviews, surveys, or open-ended questions. This offers a deeper understanding of user sentiments, motivations, and perceptions, providing valuable context to complement quantitative insights.

How to Determine Useful User Insights

What are user insights good for if they do not help delineate what your product team should be working on next? To turn insights into excellent products, user insights should be:

  • Relevant to business objectives: Useful insights directly align with the goals of the research, offering valuable information that contributes to achieving specific objectives.
  • Actionable: Insights should provide actionable recommendations or highlight areas for improvement, enabling the product team to make informed decisions.
  • Consistent: They are consistent across a significant portion of the user base, ensuring their applicability to a broader audience.

When explaining what separates a useful user insight from a pointless one, we will use an overarching scenario to showcase examples. In this scenario, you are a product manager for a popular rideshare app.

What’s a Useful User Insight? 

A useful user insight is information derived from user research that directly contributes to improving the user experience or guiding product decisions. It provides actionable knowledge about user behaviors, preferences, and needs—the “why”.

Actionable insights you want to capitalize on include the below.

Behavioral patterns

These provide context in why users are performing certain actions. For example, you discover that a significant number of users consistently abandon ride bookings during the payment process due to confusion about payment options. This insight points to a specific usability issue that can be addressed to enhance the overall user experience.

Feature preferences

Learning that users prefer a specific feature over others based on their frequency of use and positive feedback is critical. For example, you learn that a majority of users frequently utilize the “share trip details” feature. This insight indicates a favored feature that can be emphasized in marketing campaigns or upgraded in development.

Usability pain points

This is all about identifying specific pain points users encounter that may cause churn, decrease overall adoption, or stop sales from getting a new account. For example, you identify that users encounter difficulties in selecting the right drop-off location. This insight highlights a particular area in the app’s navigation that requires immediate improvement for smoother user interactions.

What’s NOT a Useful User Insight? 

Non-useful user insights lack relevance or fail to provide actionable information for product improvement. They may be vague, anecdotal, or not aligned with the research objectives.

Here’s what to avoid paying attention to.

Vague feedback

This is when users express general satisfaction (or disappointment) without specifying the features or aspects they are referring to. For example, a user says they are “happy” with the rideshare app without giving more details. While this feedback is nice, it lacks specificity and cannot help guide actionable improvements.

Anecdotal comments

These are single-user anecdotes that do not represent broader user trends or patterns. Even if it’s specific, if they are the only one saying it, it may not be worth the dev team’s time. For example, a single user complains about the waiting period in a particular location, but no other users in that location have expressed discontent. This isolated story may not represent the varied experiences of the entire user base.

Biased responses

This is feedback that is influenced by external factors that have nothing to do with your product or services. For example, a user’s mood when filling out the post-trip survey was sour because the snow was causing traffic delays.

How to Write Useful User Insights

Once you’ve gone through and analyzed your feedback (and sorted the actionable from the futile), there are different ways you can write these insights out to dictate next steps.

You can craft an outcome statement: Action verb (an improvement) > Measurable characteristic (related to the improvement) > Clarifier (related to user)

  • Action verb = Reduce
  • Measurable characteristic = Canceled trip rates
  • Clarifier = In geographic region X

An alternative structure that focuses more on the “why” is to think about statements in terms of the Situation > Motivation > Expected outcome. This boils down to “When doing… users want to… So users can….” and helps product teams think in terms of the functional (behavioral) and emotional (attitudinal).

Step 1: Detail the Context (the Situation)

Stakeholders reading the insight need to be in the end-user’s shoes. Explain what the current situation is for your customers when they use your product.

Step 2: Explain the Primary Lesson

What was the pivotal learning here? It may be a surprise or something you and the rest of the product team were thinking was an obstacle already.

Step 3: Articulate the “Why” (the Motivation)

What are the behavioral motivations at play behind the lesson learned? What emotions do they feel across their UX journey?

Step 4: Convey the Consequences (the Expected Outcome)

Explain what will happen if this insight is ignored.

Step 5: Craft the Outcome Statement to Delineate Next Steps

Taking all of the above steps into account, you can now write a user insight that the product team can actually work with.

  • Situation: When users in geographic region X request a ride, they experience longer wait times. This is due to not hiring enough drivers in region X.
  • Motivation: Users want to be heading towards their destination in less than seven minutes, so this leads users to cancel their trips.
  • Expected outcome: We must provide more drivers in geographic region X and more transparency in wait times before booking to reduce canceled trip rates and improve overall customer satisfaction.  

Integration of User Insights into Business Strategy

In Product Development

Integrating user insights into product development involves leveraging user feedback and behaviors to inform the creation and enhancement of products. This ensures that features and products align with user expectations and preferences. It also minimizes the need for extensive revisions by addressing user concerns early in development, allowing for quick iteration cycles.

Here’s how to implement:

  • Feature prioritization: Use insights to prioritize features that align with user needs and preferences.
  • Iterative development: Apply user feedback iteratively throughout the development process for continuous improvement.
  • Usability testing: Conduct usability tests based on insights to validate design decisions and enhance user experiences.

In Marketing

Integrating user insights into marketing involves tailoring marketing strategies based on a deep understanding of user behaviors, preferences, and motivations. Marketing messages become more relevant and appealing to target audiences. This improves engagement and increases user engagement.

Here’s how to implement:

  • Targeted campaigns: Create marketing campaigns that resonate with specific user segments identified through insights.
  • Messaging alignment: Align marketing messages with user values and expectations revealed by insights.
  • User feedback integration: Incorporate positive user testimonials or experiences in marketing materials.

In UX Design

Integrating user insights into UX design involves using user feedback and behaviors to shape the overall design and interaction elements of a product. This results in designs that intuitively meet user expectations and preferences. Ultimately, this will minimize friction in user interactions, leading to a smoother and more satisfying user experience.

Here’s how to implement:

  • Persona development: Create user personas based on insights to guide design decisions.
  • Iterative prototyping: Build and refine prototypes based on user testing and feedback.
  • Accessibility considerations: Address user needs revealed by insights, such as improving accessibility features.

Challenges in Gathering and Using User Insights

Lack of Consolidation

Comprehensive user feedback can come from surveys, interviews, internal customer support teams, user testing, and reviews—among many others. When data is dispersed across various sources and departments, it is difficult to centralize all this data coming in from various sources. This results in a fragmented understanding of user behaviors and preferences, making it difficult to find themes.

Some mitigation strategies include:

  • Integrations: Implement tools that help centralize your data storage and analysis.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: Ensure a unified approach to data collection and analysis.
  • Standardized data formats: Establish templates for each relevant department (e.g., Support, CX, sales, marketing, product, engineering, etc.) when submitting user insights to improve compatibility across different sources.

Issue of Data Accuracy

The issue of data accuracy arises when the information collected does not precisely reflect users’ actual behaviors or preferences. Inaccurate data may lead to misguided conclusions, resulting in decisions that do not align with actual user needs. These wasted efforts hurt the bottom line, as time and money are dedicated to creating something that ultimately flops in the market. Stakeholders may lose confidence in the product org if there are doubts about the accuracy of the underlying data.

Some mitigation strategies include:

  • Regular audits: Implement routine checks and audits of data collection processes to identify and rectify inaccuracies.
  • Validation techniques: Cross-verify insights using multiple data sources or validation methods to ensure accuracy.
  • User feedback loops: Incorporate user feedback mechanisms to allow users to report inaccuracies, creating a continuous loop for data accuracy improvement.

Privacy Concerns

Privacy concerns arise when collecting user insights involves sensitive information, leading to apprehension among users. Users may be hesitant to share information if they are concerned about the misuse of their personal data. Privacy restrictions may limit the depth of insights gathered, especially in areas where users are reluctant to disclose certain details.

Some mitigation strategies include:

  • Transparent communication: Clearly communicate how user data will be used, stored, and protected to build trust.
  • Anonymous data collection: Prioritize anonymous or aggregated data collection methods to address privacy concerns while still gaining valuable insights.
  • Opt-in consent: Implement an opt-in approach where users explicitly consent to sharing certain information, giving them control over their data and addressing privacy concerns.

How Productboard Helps Teams Get the Most Out of Their Product Development User Insights

Productboard can significantly enhance the collection and utilization of user insights in product development.

Centralized Repository

Productboard serves as a centralized hub for storing and organizing user insights, ensuring easy access for the entire product team. This allows for efficient collaboration and knowledge sharing among team members, preventing information silos.

Automated Integrations

Consolidate user feedback from many sources with integrations into the tools your teams already rely on, providing product teams easy access to all feedback, requests, and user research—from colleagues and customers alike. This provides a comprehensive view of user sentiments, preferences, and pain points, aiding in well-informed decision-making.

Feature Prioritization

Prioritize features based on user needs and impact, aligning development efforts with the most valuable improvements. Product development efforts are directed towards features that resonate with users, optimizing resource allocation efforts.

Roadmap Alignment

Aligns user insights with the product roadmap, providing a strategic overview of how user needs fit into the long-term vision. This guides the product development process by incorporating user-centric priorities, fostering a more user-focused and successful product strategy.

Iterative Development Support

Productboard supports an iterative approach to development by allowing continuous updates based on evolving user insights. Teams can adapt quickly to changing user needs and preferences, improving agility in the product development lifecycle.

By leveraging these features, Productboard streamlines the process of gathering, organizing, and acting upon user insights, ultimately optimizing the product development lifecycle for user-centric success. Request a demo or try Productboard for free to see how we help you get the right products to market, faster. 

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