Categorize Dashboard Interview Findings into Themes

After conducting a survey with your analytics dashboard user groups and interviewing all of your key dashboard stakeholders, next look for themes.

This is the third post in a blog series about redesigning your analytics dashboard. Start from the beginning.

Why organize into themes

After interviewing your stakeholders, you will likely walk away with dozens of questions and concerns. It’s important to first understand the big picture before diving into solutions. What did you hear? What were the themes? As you redesign your analytics dashboard, ongoing communication is critical to this process to ensure buy-in from your leadership team and stakeholders. Research shows that 70% of all organizational change efforts fail due to lack of buy-in. Organize your findings into themes, and then present them back to the team to ensure your stakeholders feel heard and validated.

2 ways to organize findings

There are at least 2 approaches you can take to identify and organize all of the interview and survey findings into themes. Below are 2 example approaches you can take. Choose whichever method you or your team prefers. There’s no set target number of groups or themes. Create as many themes as it makes sense (and can reasonably manage — maybe 7-10). Later, you will prioritize the themes and findings.

Option 1: Organize findings in a spreadsheet

Either working alone or in a small group, record each finding in a new row in a spreadsheet. Flag duplicates as you go, and then edit them out (now or later). Taking note of duplicates now will help with prioritization later. (What were the most common findings?) Create additional columns for other types of information, such as:

  • Source (who said it)
  • Business Goal (e.g., traffic, engagement, outcome)
  • Page Type / Area of Site
  • Additional notes (e.g., examples, clarifying notes)

This information can make it easier to sort your findings to find patterns and themes. Don’t worry about categorizing each finding as you type. It’s important to get everything documented clearly and in one place first. When that’s finished, now it’s time to organize. Read each finding, then create a theme or category for it. This process will take a bit of trial-and-error, as it will take a little while to find the right label and system.

Option 2: Organize findings in a mind map

Creating a mind map uses the reverse process as above. The biggest benefit of a mind map over a spreadsheet is the visualization aspect. My favorite mind mapping tool is MindMeister.com. The first 3 maps are free, plus, you can collaborate with others on the same map. To get started, it’s best not to over-analyze and just jump in.

  • Read the first finding, then create a theme or category for it.
  • Read the second finding, then add it to the existing theme or create a new one.
  • Repeat this process with all remaining findings.
  • Star or color-code duplicate findings.
  • Edit labels and rearrange groups until satisfied.

You will want to retain as much detail as possible in order to hold onto the underlying intent or meaning. As you start to see patterns, it’ll be easy to group smaller themes into larger themes. Examples of themes / buckets:

  • User Satisfaction
  • Customer Segmentation
  • Website Health
  • Conversion
  • Acquisition
  • Benchmarking
  • Content

Bucket the outliers

When I went through this same process recently, I discovered several insights that fell outside of what would appear on a dashboard — but were very real stakeholder pain points. Outlier topics included:

  • Communication
  • Process
  • Ownership
  • Budgeting

Save these for discussion later.

Next: Prioritize findings into requirements

Lead a workshop with your stakeholders to communicate all of the findings, and then prioritize them. These will become the requirements for your new dashboard.

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Author: Kristine Remer

Kristine Remer is an independent UX researcher & strategist in Minneapolis. Connect on Twitter @kristineremer