Organizing User Feedback

Posted on May 27, 2016 by RJ Sherman

The end is always the easiest, right? You interviewed the people you needed to learn about. They gave a lot of valuable insights. All that is left is to condense the information down into a persona.

But there is so much information. You are overwhelmed.

Organizing raw information into defined sets is one of the key components to being an Information Architect. However, you are an expert in another field.  How do you bridge that gap?

How do you take 15 pages of notes that include a variety of thoughts, expectations, and wants and condense them down into a consumable persona? It is a bridge too far – costs, deliverables, and sprint schedules - all squeezing you into development, not refining research.

Affinity Diagramming

A process to help streamline the organization of information is Affinity Diagramming.  A simplified definition of this is a process of organizing information into like categories.

To begin, try pulling out key phrases, words, and other useful parts of the interview and then organize them into like groups.  For example, you may find that field agents had a lot of insight around their wants and needs.  Organizing those pieces of conversation into a “Wants/Needs” category, you may even be able to sub-organize further into categories like “Marketing”, “Sales & Service”, and “Personal”.

You may find that you have several high-level groupings and each of those have several sub-groupings. Use this method to translate all of your research into consumable and condensed outlines to then create your persona.

Tools of the Trade

If you are working with a team, collaborative tools make this easier – even if some of your members are remote.

For teams with remote employees, take a look at online tools such as:

For teams where everyone is local, these would work well, but you have the option of organizing using physical methods such as sticky notes or index cards.

Conclusion

Applying Affinity Diagramming to large sets of information will save time figuring out what your audience was saying while expressing insights in a condensed way.