It happens very often that multiple stakeholders in the organizations walk up to UX researchers and ask questions like – “What do our customers think about this functionality” or “Do we know why our competitor has higher adoption rates for this product?” When such questions arise, it turns out that there is a mad scramble to look in various folders, spreadsheets, data and then come up with answers. This information is not always available, though, due to the vast nature and scope of UX research data and the magnitude of design research.
Answering simple questions can be a painful proposition if the data is scattered or the person has left the organization taking all the insights. We hear a lot about how UX research or design research is convoluted purely because:
- The research and insights are siloed
- There is no workflow to manage or extract the data
- There is a lot of tribal knowledge across members and teams
- There is no easy way to look up nuggets of information from past reports to solve existing and future problems.
This article will dig into the finer nuances of a UX research and insights repository that helps create democratized insights for efficient knowledge management. User research is challenging and expensive, but it makes the process smooth and easy for all when it is managed in a research repository.
What is a UX research repository?
The UX research repository is defined as a centralized repository that houses the insights conducted by an organization about design and user research. This research tool aids in providing a lot more customer-centricity with the help of the investigative research performed that aids in the design elements. Using a UX research and insights repository also aids in contributing to the speed of decisions made and influencing decisions with products.
Think of the UX research repository as a vital cog in your design and user research process that helps to quickly surface critical information to UX researchers and multiple stakeholders across the organization. Due to tribal knowledge spread across teams, common complaints arise, such as lack of information about past studies, no reference material to ongoing problems, and more. Having a repository that manages UX insights is like Wikipedia for all past studies in one centralized location for easy management.
The UX research and insights repository or design research repository consist of three levels of data:
UX insights: At the base of the fundamentals, the UX research library consists of customer-centric and other design research tagged to provide holistic insights to the UX team. These insights could be any of your research and consist of qualitative and quantitative studies. The UX research insights are broken down into an easily consumable format and have the proper tagging structure and business taxonomy.
Observations from the design research: The secondary level of the UX insights hub provides information at a more granular level where it is easy to track trends that emanated from a customer or user research study. This could be in the form of underlying sentiments, propositions, competitor benchmarking, pricing sensitivity to features, and more. The observations help to dissipate siloed information into an easy-to-consume format.
Raw UX research data: At the third level of your UX research system, there is unfiltered research data to call upon in case required. This data helps identify trends that may not have been looked at before and offer an insight into the type of studies conducted, research data, customer behavioral data, and more.
The above three significant components come together in forming the UX research and insights repository, which helps break down the silos in UX research.
Why do organizations need a UX research and insights repository?
UX research is complicated but pivotal in the success of any product team. Getting into the customer’s mind to understand various vectors such as product tweaks, propensity to pay, identifying pricing sensitivity to the feature set, etc., is vital. Design research also plays a vital role in getting more out of your user research. So the importance of creating and maintaining such a platform is not lost on anyone. The most prominent reasons that necessitated a need to develop and manage UX insights and research repository are:
UX research and UX research data is siloed
Think of various groups, divisions, and even smaller teams that conduct design and user research. Due to its importance, UX research is conducted at multiple levels, scales and degrees. A lot of times, this research is very arbitrary and solves a minimal but immediate need. The above-mentioned factors lead to insights being dispersed between smaller teams, and there is no widespread understanding of the data.
The frequency of conducting UX research is very high
Due to the needs of the business, design research is conducted very frequently and can range from small samples to an extensive sample set. Additionally, this research often needs to be undertaken across geographies and demographics. This means that a lot of time, the research is repeated and across teams, but there is no common thread that ties the insights together. Not just that, due to multiple stakeholders being involved, the survey and research data is often tribal knowledge.
Recommendations go unnoticed
Each UX research study has recommendations at the end. Still, due to the lack of a design research library or system and the ambiguity in how research reports are created and stored, the insights have a concise life. Not just that, after a specific time, even if these insights are chanced upon, there is little scope to make sense of it.
Workflows to manage UX research and insights aren’t centralized
An obvious issue with decentralized research is that different teams and individuals manage projects differently. This means there are very localized workflows that don’t span across the breadth of the organization. Moving or adding in people and stakeholders complicates the process, leading to arbitrary processes in requesting and storing design and user research.
There is no knowledge discovery
Each UX study aids in a specific discovery process. Many research studies cater to particular needs that are part of brand strategy, customer churn, pricing analytics, etc. Here, the business knowledge is captured in tribal knowledge such as emails, spreadsheets, localized business taxonomy, and more. This hampers the process of knowledge discovery on a broader scale across the organization.
The tools to manage UX research are fragmented
Insight repositories are relatively new market research concepts, so there aren’t specialized tools, and adoption is also low. The means to manage UX research are far, and few. These help solve more minor problems rather than a whole encompassing problem. Design research is still conducted and managed traditionally with sheets, analytical engines, survey software, and custom reports.
It is tough to provide the ROI of UX or design research
This is true with any market research that proving the ROI is extremely difficult. With UX research, too, since it is highly defragmented and decentralized, it is challenging to validate the value that design and product teams receive from it. It is even more challenging to derive value from a product.
Having a structured UX research repository tool or platform in place mitigates a lot of the issues seen above. It also makes the insights process quicker, simpler and faster.
Benefits and advantages of using a UX insights repository
The UX insights and research repository consist of multiple moving parts that make the lives of UX researchers, design and product teams, and all other stakeholders extremely easy. Some of the most significant benefits and advantages of using this design research repository are
At the very outset, by implementing a UX research system, you can plan to manage workflows. You are defining the process from request to discovery, aids in saving a lot of time and effort when you bring in new members and simplifies the process of all stakeholders who need to access the tool.
Faster access to insights
After the completion of research studies, there is now a structured repository of research data. With raw data, nuggets of information, reports in one centralized location, and more, it is easy to access insights. With structured business taxonomy and pre-defined meta tags, it becomes easy to derive the value you are looking for.
Heightened knowledge access
Building on knowledge from past studies enhances the knowledge graph. It is much easier to draw trendlines into data and fill in gaps much easier than it would have traditionally been without using a UX research library. Since collective knowledge and learning are pooled together, there is always scope of heightened continuous discovery.
Transparency of information and faster turnaround research
With the UX insights repository, there is access to granular and metadata about research studies. Access to this information means that there is always access to survey research methodologies, the sample used, team members involved, and more. These aspects allow the ability to look up data on a multitude of criteria of your choosing. It also helps in completing research studies much faster and with faster insights for the product teams.
Democratized UX research and insights
One of the most significant benefits of using a UX research insights repository is access to information for all. With the mitigation of tribal knowledge, all relevant stakeholders can access the insights they need very quickly. There is a more excellent hold on data management and accessibility, ensuring that you do not have to look in multiple places and reach out to various stakeholders to make sense of data. In this case, it also becomes simpler to manage multivariate research data.
Method to create and manage a UX research or insights repository with steps
When managed appropriately, the UX research repository can see very high adoption rates internally and aid in faster, efficient research and insights. But for the tool to offer the best value, there has to be absolute clarity from internal teams on the various moving parts and how they will be managed, plus managing expectations. It would be beneficial to think through your external technology stack, involvement of different vendors and stakeholders, and everything else before deciding on your UX research repository platform and tool.
Here is the method to create and manage an insights repository in six easy steps:
1. Appoint the team to manage the UX insights repository
This one would be your obvious first step in successfully implementing and managing the design research repository. Defining the ownership showcases a strong case of alignment to the research and insights goals. Even within the team, assign leaders to run the whole process. These leaders should have a holistic view of the organization and the requirements from the research process to define workflows, make decisions and help increase adoption within the organization. While multiple people can contribute to the success of the insights repository, there have to champion that holds the overarching vision and mission.
2. Organize your UX research
Step two in this process is defining the business taxonomy, meta-tags, punching methods of design research data, and more. Creating a system to input past and existing UX research data into the platform creates a strong alignment to the tool. Proper organization of the UX research helps to consolidate insights from varied sources and create an immediate knowledge graph that’s robust and scalable.
3. Add nuggets of supporting information
Adding comments, nuggets, notes, observations, and anything else pertinent to the UX research study will make your platform robust and extremely powerful. Putting in this information offers a wealth of knowledge to everyone accessing it. Putting the proper tags in place makes this data even more robust because the insights are then tagged, indexed, and easily searchable by the taxonomy defined for your organization. With the constant addition of such information, the time to conduct further studies reduces.
4. Analyze data
Using a tool that allows you to bring the insights from qualitative and quantitative research into one centralized portal is vital. Putting this together can help you better analyze your research data and make sense of it.
5. Create a findings report
Creating a findings report is step five in managing your UX research repository. Research reports consist of many layers and aspects – by synthesizing all the learnings into critical findings, there is an overarching theme for each study. Just glancing at the report can help provide more significant insights into the research and hence are highly imperative to the success and adoption of the platform. The snapshot view of the findings report offers an insight into the people involved, research methodology, timelines, costs, alignment to objectives, competitive benchmarking, and more.
6. Tag and share insights
The last stage in the successful implementation of your UX research repository is tagging the insights and sharing them with the relevant stakeholders. Applying tags ensures that the insights are easily searchable and aligned to brand objectives. If they aren’t explicitly shared also, the tagging aids in making sure the UX research insights are easily findable.
Types of UX insights & research repositories with examples
There are multiple types of UX research repositories. The most common types are:
Internal UX insights and research repositories
Traditionally, these are the most common types of UX research repositories that organizations and brands use. This is a mix of different tools, including a research platform, data analysis tools, tools to help manage communities, and other qualitative research. Most of the design research from these tools flows into an existing technology stack and readily available spreadsheets, tribal reporting, and more. All of these insights could be tagged into haphazardly created internal wikis or shared drives full of data and reports. These are called internal UX research repositories, and some notable examples are Google Business Suite, Airtable, etc. They aren’t the most reliable and scalable, though, as there is still ambiguity with taxonomy, searchability, etc.
Custom-built UX insights and research repositories
Often, large organizations do not want to use various tools, so they commission custom-built UX research repositories. The GitLab CE project is an example of a custom-built UX research repository. While this matches a specific need of an organization, tunnel vision and lack of resources ensure this isn’t a viable solution for all organizations.
Specialized UX insights and research repositories
Last on our list is specialized UX research repository tools and softwares that are developed purely to ease the ease of management of UX and design research in mind. Built by research-driven organizations and people, these platforms are powerfully developed to democratize UX research insights and break down silos of information. Dovetail, Bloomfire, Aurelius Lab, and QuestionPro Insights Hub are examples of specialized UX insights and research repositories.
The QuestionPro Insights Hub was developed purely to advance research in a cloud-based Repository for corporate research that democratizes access to research across the enterprise. This is a unified hub for UX research data management that helps to optimize time and transparency. The platform ties into the qualitative and quantitative research tools. It also has an advanced analytical engine that brings together all of your UX research data under one platform, making it the choice for researchers and brands worldwide.