The Rainbow Spreadsheet

July 5, 2017

We have decided the methods of user experience research. It includes both qualitative and quantitative data gathering types. We have done arrangements for our interviews or focus groups. Everything looks fine. Now, we need to collect the data from the users and write down the outputs. In this section, the rainbow spreadsheet helps us.


It is called Rainbow because different colors represent different participants. It is documented simultaneously by the your team during the UX study. 



Your first achievement is to have a spreadsheet to be used. You also want your team to know how to use it and how to document the observations.


1. Finalize your discussion guide. Make the lists of what you will ask user participants to do and what questions will you ask them to answer, and in what order.


2. Schedule 45 minute breaks between study sessions. You either prepare your next session or discuss the current observations with your team.


3. Make a copy of the master rainbow spreadsheet for your own use.


4. Make a 'Participants' sheet to store information about participants.



5. Make an 'Observations' sheet which includes behaviors that your team expect participants to demonstrate; such as "Noticed the green Calculate button". Do not enter two or more actions such as "Noticed the green button and clicked". One behavior for one entry.


6. Share the spreadsheet with your team. Explain what it is, and tell them it will serve as a summary for the study and that there will not be another report.



7. Check the 'Participants' sheet to understand who the participants are and do the appropriate priority for the study among them.


8. Ask team members to use 'Observations' sheet during the sessions to note the behaviors of participants.


9. Prepare the 'Metrics' sheet and identify your UX metrics. The master spreadsheet is prepared to collect three basic metrics: the success rates of tasks, the time to complete tasks, and self-reported satisfaction ratings.



10. Make a 'Raw' sheet to add anything that doesn't belong the other sheets. It usually remains empty.


11. If you feel to add additional sheet, just do it. (Such as Participant Questions sheet) It depends on your team's need.


During The Session


1. Enter data into 'Observations' sheet


2. Fill the 'Metrics' sheet.


3. After the first session is over and after each session, talk with your team. Discuss whether everything went well.


4. Remember to enter data if you have another sheets.


After Study


1. It is time to conclusion. Get together as team for summary discussion after the last participant has left. The aim of the discussion is to agree on the answers to the research questions that I mentioned in my previous article and to identify the primary findings of the study.


2. Add a 'Summary' sheet


3. Discuss with your team and fill the sheet.


4. Declare the study done, then publish the spreadsheet. When you share the spreadsheet outside of your immediate team, don’t call it the “Rainbow Spreadsheet.” Instead, call it “the report.


UX research is done to help the organization develop empathy for the customer. It is not about producing reports. The significant point is the team's learning. The rainbow spreadsheet is a tool to support collaboration.

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