How to Use Video to Better Capture and Communicate Insights from User Research

Not all insights are equal. Depending on the topic and audience, crafting an engaging insight may require more than just a punchy insight statement. In this post, we’ll share how incorporating video into your user research workflow can enhance the impact of insights in your organization.

Combine video clips to show patterns of user behavior

Let’s start by thinking about usability testing.

Usability problems are not always obvious. As someone doing usability testing, you might observe an issue, log it, and pass it along to the team responsible for making a change. However, without sufficient context, it can be difficult for others to really understand the impact that any one issue is having on the user’s experience of a product or service, even when you feel that you have fully described what is happening, like so…

EXAMPLE INSIGHT — A majority of users tested failed to locate the Save button, which is getting lost among other more prominent controls on the page.

It is true that, as the researcher, your description and interpretation of what is happening is critical. However, you probably also know that being able to observe the user struggle as they pass right over that button that is RIGHT THERE can be eye opening. It can give you a much stronger appreciation for the emotional toll that a usability problem can take on users and a better understanding of why those problems can lead to dissatisfaction or even abandonment.

For any usability problem that is critical to address, consider combining video clips to show that multiple participants ran into the same problem and how they reacted…

Three video clips being combined into a single compilation called "Video Compilation: Save Button Failures".

… because nothing seizes the attention of a product manager faster than a parade of users stumbling around the product confused and failing to get through key tasks.

Here’s what it might look like in Handrail to share this finding with your stakeholders.

Browser window showing the Handrail app with an insight containing a video.

Using visual media during synthesis to develop insights

Video can be useful not only to convey the core message of an insight. It can also be useful to help you develop those insights.

Here’s an idea for the next time you’re synthesizing a bunch of qualitative data and have video recordings of your research sessions:

  • First, have each member of your team choose a quote or two that they believe represents a key point of view from that participant.
  • Then, create a video clip for each of the quotes.
  • Make these clips accessible to your team so they can easily refer back to them while synthesizing data.

With access to these video clips, the voice of your participants stays with your team all the way through the research process.

Here’s what that could look like in Handrail, using the Analysis Board. We’ve created a participant gallery on the left where team members can browse through key moments from the interviews while they’re collaborating to identify patterns in the data.

A browser window displaying the Analysis Board within the Handrail app. The board has a group on the left side containing video clips of key quotes from participants in the study.

Letting participants speak for themselves

We all know that direct quotes from participants are great for helping us ground insights in how real people think and behave. Just about every research presentation has at least a few full page quotes to drive home the fact that it was actual human beings who struggle with X, Y, or Z.

The problem is, words on a page too often lose the emotional resonance they had when the participant originally spoke those words. Facial expression, tone, cadence, pauses—these are sources of richness and meaning in qualitative data that is too often stripped away without realizing that we are leaving opportunities for better understanding on the table.

When curating and sharing the words of your research participants, consider including video clips to allow them to speak for themselves.

Three video clips with quotes as captions for the clips.

This gives your stakeholders an opportunity to more directly connect with and understand the people your organization serves.

Here’s how you can do something like this in Handrail. Just follow these steps:

  1. Capture participant quotes on a series of cards.
  2. Add a video clip to each card.
  3. Add the cards to an insight.
Three video clips on an insight in the Handrail app.
Cards contain supporting evidence for insights in Handrail. This insight has three cards with video clips of key quotes from research participants.

Capturing the nuance of detailed processes

Often, researchers bring value to an organization by accurately documenting and explaining how complex systems and processes work. Video can be a powerful tool to capture and communicate the nuances involved, especially when dealing with systems that have been patched together or involve DIY workarounds.

We know it can be hard to get out of the (home) office right now. But the next time you’re able to plan a field study, consider bringing a video camera along. Even if you end up using stills from the video, you won’t be kicking yourself for missing a photo here or there. Just keep the camera rolling.

Being conscious of privacy while capturing video

Depending on the environment or industry in which your research is taking place, it may not be appropriate, or even permitted, to capture video. Each project has its own ethical, procedural, and legal dimensions that your team will need to work through while planning the research.

However, there are lots of situations in which you can capture video as long as you follow any practices and procedures necessary to protect the privacy of your participants. This may be as simple as being careful to avoid capturing or to edit out any personally identifiable information (PII). What counts as PII is not black and white though. It is going to be specific to the context of your research and what your participants are comfortable with.

We hope this post gave you some ideas about how to enhance your own research practice by incorporating video along the way. If you have other ideas or thoughts about using video to capture and communicate insights more effectively, please share them in the comments or get in touch. We’d love to hear what you think!

Photos by: CoWomenLinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Mimi Thian on Unsplash


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