How to Move from Insights to Action

The Power of Visualizing Research

Emily Stuart
5 min readMay 21, 2024
Illustrations by Jill Tracy 2024

When learning how to be a good storyteller, folks often say, “Show, don’t tell.” At Craft, we take that lesson to heart. We never deliver research findings without some level of visualization and, more often than not, we articulate our research recommendations in design format. We believe that our role is not just to tell you what we learned, we also need to show you what it means and how to enact it.

A Little History

I started my UX Research career working for a large research agency where our deliverables were massive, detailed reports. Truly impressive reports (if I do say so myself and on behalf of the wonderful humans I worked with), but in that role, I never really knew what happened next and, at times, we’d have clients within the same organization ask us to do the same research we’d done before. How were our findings getting socialized and acted on? I didn’t know and I wanted to.

So I switched over to working in-house for an established start-up, which ended up being a masterclass in socializing findings within an organization. I learned that one secret to impactful research is strong facilitation. Facilitating effective kick offs with designers, product managers, and engineers helped me design studies that would meet their goals and drive forward their work. Turning my debriefs into workshops ensured that action came from the work I was doing. But, as I got more exposure in the organization and my work became more strategic, I realized that I was hitting a wall. The big, meaty, systemic issues and needs that we identified early on were the same ones that we weren’t solving for. Even though my approach to research was more impactful, the way I was communicating strategic insights was not leading to the action I was hoping to drive.

Enter Craft.

Illustrations by Jill Tracy 2024

Craft is a strategic digital research & design agency. I came to Craft believing in the power of goal-driven research and succinct, clear storytelling, but what I quickly learned was my missing piece: how to turn big, meaty, systemic issues into initiatives. The answer is to partner with exceptional designers and strategists to not only recommend next steps but visualize the future.

How To Do It

1. Design goal-driven research

Illustrations by Jill Tracy 2024

To have impact, your research debrief has to be contextualized in what the team is trying to accomplish. The easiest way to do that is to initially design your study to focus on the key questions the team needs answered in order to make the decisions they have to make.

A quick warning: we all have to be careful here, because our goals need to be research goals, not business goals. And our questions need to be user questions, not design questions. Goal-driven research is about what teams need to accomplish, not about what they might be saying they need, but that’s a topic for another time.

2. Avoid handoffs

Illustrations by Jill Tracy 2024

A key shift I needed to make right from the start at Craft was no longer thinking of designers as stakeholders of my work and thinking of them instead as collaborators. This small shift helps avoid handoffs. Research at Craft is not in service of design (or vice versa). Researchers, Designers, and Engagement Managers are all in service of meaningful action together. That means we can identify problems and begin to solution based on those problems within a tight loop informed and influenced by multiple skillsets.. There is less of a gap between what was heard / observed and what we do, which avoids solutions deviating too far from the needs of the individuals we are solving problems for.

3. Speak visually

Illustrations by Jill Tracy 2024

A simple diagram is always better than 100 words. A low-fidelity wireframe is always better than a list of bullet point recommendations (and even better when they come together). Speaking visually helps people quickly understand what is being communicated and internalize it faster than words on a page. Visuals also tend to be re-used by stakeholders to communicate with others at a higher rate than text on a slide (based on my own experience, not quantitative data).

This approach doesn’t just apply to communicating research insights. It also applies to study design. Turning your hypotheses and assumptions into a series of low-fidelity conceptual directions and testing those can help you better understand what people really need and what aspects of certain concepts would effectively solve problems. The trick is making sure that for early-stage efforts you’re not just putting one hypothesis, one concept in front of your users, because that becomes a binary discussion (“Yes, this works” or “No, this does not work”) and to truly solve problems effectively we need to understand nuance. That’s afforded to us when we test multiple hypotheses, multiple concepts.

4. Find your business & technical partners

Illustrations by Jill Tracy 2024

The best work will still sit on a shelf if no one is there to pick it up. Having the right people in the room when you are sharing your beautifully visualized findings and suggesting next steps is paramount to getting anything done. Find the people who decide what is included in the roadmap and make sure they are part of your research team.

To sum it up, take your research to the next level by testing visualized ideas in addition to digging deep and make your research outputs more actionable by visualizing your findings and recommendations. As a researcher, build a strong partnership with designers, product managers, and technical leaders, because we need each other.

Good research is good design is good research is good design, etc.

Want support moving from insights to action? Always happy to chat. Feel free to reach out at



Emily Stuart

Research Director @ Craft Studios ( | Passionate about creative facilitation & qualitative investigation