How to Create a Product Test Report for Outdoor Products

An effective way to view reporting on an outdoor product test is to think of the process as climbing a mountain. On the approach, the going is usually easy but the burden is heavy. Imagine carrying a heavy backpack of ropes and equipment up a gentle snow slope. For now, you’re walking on easy ground, staring up at the mountain, looking for a route. Once the approach is complete and you reach the base of the steepness, the rope comes out and you set off into the actual climbing, searching for the way to the summit. Then, after rope-length and rope-length of technical climbing and challenging route-finding through rock and ice, the angle finally kicks back a bit and you’re on the last stretch of snow to the summit. This is our analogue to a three-step fundamental product test reporting process on MESH01:


  1. The Approach: Familiarize yourself with the feedback data and defining/refining early hypotheses
  2. The Technical Climbing: Analyze the feedback to identify critical areas, events and feedback patterns
  3. The Summit Push: Summarize actionable takeaways for coworkers and stakeholders

Familiarize, analyze, summarize. While there are of course additional intricacies in product test reporting – many dependent on objectives and test design – you can be confident that this overall process is efficient and effective, and has been proven through thousands of product tests on MESH01.

Familiarizing Yourself with Product Testing Feedback Data

The first step in creating a product test report that effectively communicates actionable findings to your teammates and stakeholders is to familiarize yourself with the feedback you collected during your product test. Depending on your product testing program’s criteria, there may be specific hypotheses already established for this test. Or, the test could instead be part of a larger product integrity process.

Read more: The State of Product Testing: A Look at How the World’s Best Footwear and Apparel Brands Conduct Product Testing.

Either way, MESH01 product tests often generate over 2,000 points of product-centric feedback from carefully targeted and selected product testers. And in line with voice of the customer feedback, these data can be vast and span varying experiences and perspectives. To make sense of this product testing feedback, we recommend a stepped approach to familiarizing, which includes scanning your feedback channels for:

  1. Critical product failures, issues or concerns
  2. The opportunity for pattern recognition and grouping in the “analyze” step
  3. Cross-channel corroboration across surveys, images, activity logs, etc.

Reviewing Product Test Feedback Data for Critical Issues

Before getting deep into the data, we recommend an early scan for critical issues. While product testing best practices for MESH01 recommend this in an ongoing manner throughout the test at intervals that work best for your test schedule, a final scan for any critical failures is recommended as the implications of these findings can be significant for design, sourcing or manufacturing and potentially urgent. If any critical performance or quality issues are found during this final product test scan, communicate them to the appropriate team so that action can be taken to avoid failures in the market.

Reviewing Product Test Feedback Data for Feedback Patterns

One of the most effective ways to familiarize yourself with product testing feedback data while setting yourself up for successful product test reporting is to anticipate pattern recognition in the “analyze” step. Before getting into detailed grouping or prioritization, simply review your feedback data across your used channels and take mental note of recurring themes. Often, product test feedback naturally falls into buckets of validating and constructive feedback. Getting a feel for these themes early can accelerate your deeper product test analysis.

Reviewing Product Test Feedback Data Across Different Feedback Channels

Purpose-built product testing solutions like MESH01 allow you to collect product testing feedback from a variety of channels. These product testing feedback channels can include surveys, usage logs and field notes, heat mapping, images and video and more. By coupling early feedback pattern recognition with reviews of additional feedback channels, product tester feedback themes can be brought to life. For example, you may identify a low quality rating of a boot’s upper via surveys, see images of unexpected wear and read Activity Logs about blowouts. All of this feedback will ultimately come together to help your brand understand the issue and take action.

Once these steps to familiarizing yourself with the testing data have been taken, you’ve completed your approach while eyeing the route. Now, you’re ready to set off into the technical realm of product testing feedback data analysis.

Analyzing Product Testing Feedback Data

Here you are, at the base of the route – heart beating a bit faster and maybe a butterfly or two in your stomach. The gradual grade of the approach slopes is behind you, and you’re staring up a wall of wide cracks, shallow seams, and blank faces. The feedback data analysis step of product test reporting can be the most exciting and the most technically challenging, complete with run-outs and dead-ends. Though, with thousands and thousands of product tests completed on MESH01, we can say with confidence that the route usually goes!

To effectively complete the product test reporting we recommend remembering your mental notes from familiarizing yourself with the test data in step 1 and using the right analysis tools for the job.

Outlining Product Test Themes

A great place to start product test feedback analysis is to create a simple outline of the themes you identified in your initial test review. In MESH01, this outline can be easily created in the Test Summary section of the report builder. It may also help to stack rank your themes according to importance to yourself, your team or other stakeholders so that the most critical findings are readily available. Lastly, we often find it helpful to group themes by positive or negative feedback. For example, an outline section for “Product Validation” can include important stats and quotes (to come later) while an “Improvement Opportunities” section can house critical constructive feedback.

Detailing and Confirming Product Test Themes

Once you’ve outlined the themes and patterns identified in your initial product test reporting review, it’s time to go deeper. As the implications of your findings can be significant, it’s important that they’re accurate. What you’re essentially looking to do in this step is make sure the themes that become your Key Findings are correct and supported by the test data.

The best way to ensure the accuracy of your product test reporting themes is to comprehensively review your feedback data. In MESH01, this process can be made more efficient by utilizing filters in the survey analysis tab, marking up or adding notes to images and beyond. And as the average product test on MESH01 generates more than 2,000 individual points of feedback, the themes approach helps you navigate this data in a more organized and deliberate manner.

This step will result in the confirmation of feedback themes and test findings. It will also help create clarity around the level of importance for each feedback theme (e.g. tester color preferences vs rampant catastrophic failures). Conversely, this step may result in the omission of certain themes identified early that did not stand up to further analysis and scrutiny.

Reporting on Themes with Multi-Channel Feedback Data

The final step in your analysis process is to identify supporting evidence of your findings that will be communicated in the summarizing step of the product test reporting process. Often, a feedback theme is identified through surveys, where a certain percentage of responses can be either a glowing validation or cause for concern. Depending on the additional feedback channels you’ve activated for your test, these themes are almost always supported by tester quotes, Activity Logs, Performance Zone heat maps and tester image and video uploads. Using these additional feedback channels can help paint a clear picture internally for course correction or product launch.

Beyond the Themes

So far we’ve talked about the value of using a themes approach for product test reporting. We find that for 80+% of Key Takeaways, this approach works best. However, there are times when feedback doesn’t fit within a bucket of greater feedback data. When this happens, it’s important to consider including the one-off data points or call-outs as they can also prove valuable in the product creation process.

Product Testing Tools and Technology

Lastly, a note on the tools used for this process. In keeping with the climbing analogy, it’s important to bring the right equipment for your route. Do you need ice tools and crampons? A ledge? A climbing rack with really small or really wide gear? Usually, you’ll begin your reporting with a level of familiarity with the type of product, the test requirements and amount of data collected. With that knowledge, it is important to use the right analysis tools for successful product test reporting. This could take place all within a single platform, within offline tools, or through a combination of the two.

After all of this route-finding, occasional falls and eventual flow, you’ll be done with the most technical part of the climb. Next, you’ll be cruising a moderate snow slope to the summit.

Summarizing Product Test Reporting Findings

You’ve made it through the most challenging part of the climb, but you’re not standing on the summit yet. Now, your focus should be on taking all of the relevant and actionable findings you’ve identified and confirmed in the first two steps and preparing them as Key Takeaways for a greater audience.

First, consider the most relevant stakeholders and decision makers related to your product test. This might not always be the same, either. For example, one test may be a standard ongoing product quality test while another is for new product innovation, while another is investigating a critical issue. Consider the application of your findings and the different relevant groups when building out your Key Takeaways. One moment, that might be the CEO, sourcing the next, and a Product Manager next. Making sure your Key Takeaways are prepared with a focus on relevance to these individuals will ensure the positive outcomes of the testing and overall value.

Lastly, consider the legacy and future relevance of your Key Takeaways. Typically, new product development can and will include the reference of like or past styles. The findings you generate in your product test report will play a defining role in everything from new products to product updates and revisions.

The Summit is Only Halfway

Congrats. You made it to the top. You’ve familiarized yourself with the feedback data, collected and tested themes and packed up Key Takeaways to create exceptional product experiences. But as they say, “the summit is only halfway”! From here, you’ll be navigating the internal diffusion and implementation of you product test reporting. Good luck!