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User research OKRs

Understanding OKRs in the context of user research

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a goal-setting framework that helps organizations set, track, and achieve their goals. Objectives are the desired outcomes that you want to achieve, and Key Results are measurable ways to track the progress toward these objectives.

On the flip side, we have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are metrics used to monitor the performance of organizations, teams, or individuals over time. KPIs mainly focus on ongoing operations, while OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) highlight ambitious goals and growth-oriented outcomes. By combining OKRs with KPIs, we can gain a more comprehensive understanding of an organization’s progress and performance. It’s a logical and persuasive approach to tracking success!

OKRs and user research are at the heart of successful product management. User research gives us valuable insights into user needs, behaviors, and experiences, which help shape the objectives we set as part of our OKR framework. These objectives are all about enhancing user experience, tailoring features to users’ needs, and expanding the user base. And guess what? User research plays a vital role in informing these objectives! It’s like a dynamic duo, working hand in hand.

But how do we measure success? That’s where key results come in. They serve as measurable indicators of how well we’re meeting our objectives. For example, if our objective is to improve user experience, a decrease in user-reported issues would be a great key result. It’s all about making sure our product development is not only goal-oriented but also user-centered.

So, when it comes to product management, let’s remember the power of the symbiotic relationship between OKRs and user research. It’s a winning combination that keeps us on track and helps us create amazing products that users love.

Examples of (good) user research OKRs

Product teams around the world rely on common user research OKRs because they offer a standardized and measurable way to track product development progress toward user-centered goals. These OKRs typically focus on enhancing user experience, improving product usability, and expanding the user base, all of which are driven by insights gathered from user research. By using common OKRs, teams can assess their performance against industry benchmarks, fostering continuous improvement while keeping user needs at the forefront of product development. They also serve as a shared language for goal-setting, promoting alignment, collaboration, and transparency within and across teams. Let’s take a look at some examples of user research OKRs:

Product user research OKR example 1

  • Objective: Find product market fit for ACME INC.
  • Key result 1: Conduct a design sprint to generate and test the solution
  • Key result 2: Validate new feature ideas with 50 existing customers

Product user research OKR example 2

  • Objective: Implement thorough user testing of our product
  • Key result: Receive 15 video interviews from
  • Key result: Collect 50 Customer Effort Score (CES) survey results for new releases

Product user research OKR example 3

  • Objective: Understand user behavior and preferences.
  • Key Result: Ensure the design team conducts 30 web-based user testing sessions.
  • Key Result: Capture and review 10 session replays where rage clicks are present.

Product user research OKR example 4

  • Objective: Gain insights from non-users.
  • Key Result: Coordinate with the product management team to interview 25 non-users.
  • Key Result: Create a shareable survey and collect 30 responses for marketable leads.

Product user research OKR example 5

  • Objective: Understand reasons for account churning.
  • Key Result: Follow up with the support team to conduct 50 interviews with churned account holders.
  • Key Result: Collect 75 survey responses from an automated churn survey.

These OKRs can help product managers focus on crucial improvements, progress makers, and alignment to product strategy. They can also help reverse engineer what will bring the most value for customers, creating tangible measurements for success.

Common challenges and solutions to Nail your user research OKRs

Setting and achieving user research OKRs can be quite challenging, but it’s worth it. Let’s break down the common hurdles we encounter along the way.

First, we need to define clear, relevant, and measurable key results. This may seem complex, but it’s all about understanding our product, users, and the market landscape.

Next, aligning the OKRs with overall business objectives can be a bit tricky. User research intersects with various disciplines like design, marketing, and product development. However, when we connect the dots, we unlock incredible potential.

Now, let’s talk about effectively communicating the value and impact of user research OKRs to stakeholders. It’s crucial to get them on board, even if they’re not familiar with user research. We can do this by showcasing the insights and benefits it brings to the table.

Lastly, managing resources like time, budget, and personnel can be overwhelming. However, with careful planning and prioritization, we can conduct thorough and timely user research within our constraints.

Remember, overcoming these challenges will lead us to a better understanding of our users and drive impactful decisions. Let’s tackle them together!

Bringing it all together

User research OKRs are crucial for product managers, so while we just shared why they can be daunting, they’re 100% worth the effort. Incorporating user research into your OKRs can ensure their products meet the needs and expectations of target users. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” With user research OKRs, product managers have a clear direction toward successful and impactful product development.

To get started successfully, follow three key steps. To make these steps achievable, consider flexible tools that offer multiple ways to connect (and stay connected) with users. For small PLG/SaaS startups, Userback provides easy-to-use, cost-effective ways to collect various feedback types like feedback widgets, in-app surveys, session replays, and feature boards. For enterprises, tools like Pendo are worth considering as they offer a wide range of features, albeit at a premium price.

  1. Identifying User-Centric Objectives: The first step in crafting OKRs for user research is identifying clear, actionable, and user-centric objectives. These objectives should be aligned with broader company goals and based on insights gathered from past user research. They might involve improving user experience, understanding user needs better, or increasing user engagement.
  2. Defining Measurable Key Results: Once objectives are set, it’s crucial to define key results that are measurable, time-bound, and directly linked to the achievement of objectives. Key results could be a certain percentage decrease in user-reported issues, an increase in user engagement metrics, or successful implementation of features based on user feedback.
  3. Regular Review and Adjustment: Crafting OKRs is not a one-time activity but a continuous process. They should be regularly reviewed and adjusted based on the progress made and the changing needs of the users. Regular review sessions can help teams stay aligned, address challenges timely, and celebrate wins, fostering a culture of transparency and continuous learning.

Remember, OKRs are an ongoing commitment you will need to manage, measure, and refresh periodically, that said, user feedback and engagement should also be an ongoing process, so the nature of OKRs may well drive you and your team to better user insights, user-centricity, and product success.

Looking to Implement and nail user research OKRs yourself? Get started today with Userback’s user research platform and change your product game!