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UX research can be expensive. The resulting insights could be relevant beyond the scope of the initial research or study.

This article, What Is A UX Research Repository, will discuss the importance and the relevance of having user experience research repositories. 

In light of this, we will also tackle the following sub-topics:



You may have likely experienced a similar scenario like this:

One of the stakeholders asked, “Have we done any research about the CTA button that we have on the homepage?”

When one of the members started asking about existing research studies, the search for relevant user data suddenly starts. 

When you do not have properly organized user research data, what seemed to be a simple question can take hours of looking for stored research data if these data are spread across different locations. Worse comes to worst when the responsible person already left the company, taking away all the company’s information.

Thus, in such events, user experience researchers are now looking for better ways to organize the existing data. 

This is where creating a user research repository is useful. 


What is a research repository?

A user research repository is an organized collection of UX research data that aims to support the following functions:

· Promotes the growth of UX awareness and participation across departments including product owners and the organization at large

· Promotes productivity for UX professionals as they plan and track their research

 

Important elements in user research repositories

When it comes to the main types of content, you can find two types in a research repository:

  • Input content, or the content to doing UX research (planning and research)
  • Output content, or the content from doing UX research (findings and report)


The purpose of a research repository in UX

A data repository is not solely designed for user research only. Any organization can use the same strategy for keeping and collecting user research data for their company. 

Some UX researchers prefer using software for organizing their data, while others want to use the most available tools like spreadsheets as data repositories. 

Regardless, the purpose of having a databank is to properly store data for better and easy retrieval.

However, researchers are now using UX research repositories more often, and often extending their use. Today, research teams often use research repositories to support multiple steps of a research project. 

From the initial planning to data synthesis and sharing results to stakeholders, a user research repository is found helpful. 

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Depending on the tools used, a user research repository can achieve the following  

  • Supports various steps in a research project
  • Handles different data types like text, images, audio, and video, and even usability tests


Why use a research repository?

As part of a UX research team, you may have already felt the pain of storing a large amount of data as well as the torture of retrieving stored user research data. If you have not experienced this before, you will likely go through a similar situation in the future as you scare your design and research. 

All these foreseen problems can easily be resolved with how data are properly captured, managed, archived, and shared. 

Just imagine having your own organized databank in your company, where everything is centralized and retrievable. The company can easily check on these data that in return contributes to better insights and decisions.

In one click, designers, product managers, and developers can effortlessly get insights that answer the common questions in just one click. 

This is what having a user research repository is like. It serves as the only one place for sources, where people within the company can access to find the latest insights from the research team members.


What defines a successful research repository?

Based on the experiences of most user researchers, designers, and product managers across different organizations, there are 5 main key characteristics that define a successful research and insights repository.

These 5 characteristics are retrievable, approachable, traceable, accessible, and secure. 

Let us discuss each of them below.


Retrievable

When it comes to searching for research findings, data analysis and insights, whether it is old or new data, all information should easily be retrievable. 

Members should be able to find the answers to the research questions easily on their own, and without the need to write complex search queries and spreadsheet formulas. 

The stored data can easily be filtered and segmented. For example, the search feature can segment results by country, market, or demographic. 


Approachable

A data repository should be approachable for both the researchers and other members of the different teams such as the product designers, developers, stakeholders, managers, and executives. 

It should be simple and delightful to create insights that all members feel the advantage of having a data repository. If the experience is complicated, confusing, and slow then everyone may feel some hesitations of using a repository. 


Traceable

A good repository is not just storing a collection of insights and recommendations. It also needs to provide a way to trace and track the raw data that led to the insights in the first place. 

The research findings should be connected to the original sources that the researchers interpreted to create insights. 

Enabling access to the raw data or evidence help stakeholders see where an insight came from. It also helps them understand the original context of the research.

This is important when a user research insight from years ago can easily be reviewed to determine if the data is still relevant or if it has been interpreted correctly. 

Additionally, the importance of traceable data helps researchers look back for new insights that can be developed from research data that was collected recently. 


 Accessible

Like what was previously mentioned, a user research research repository empowers an organization to leverage customer research data and insights. For this to happen, the entire team should be able to access the data with the ability to share research real time.

It should not be hard to provide and manage access to members, even for new members as a successful data repository should “open by default”.

Furthermore, a good repository should connect to emails, chats, or other tools as needed. 


Secure

Since research repositories serve as the one source of information for organizations, it contains important information, including personal information and other potentially sensitive data that should not be available to any third party. 

Because of its utmost importance, you need to consider where your data will be stored, create the processes for retention and deletion, decide whether your user data is encrypted or anonymized, and check necessary policies and practices.


Examples of data stored in a research repository

Structural data in an organization

Mission-vision: contains what the organization is about, how it works, and its short-term and long-term goals. This helps the organization better understand its capabilities, expectations, and what members can request. 

User research methods: remind the research, design and product teams of the different research methods that the organization is using and the reasons for these research methods. This promotes best practices and quality work for all team members.

Research tools: contains tools for test plans, protocols, research reports, qualitative data, and others.


Research plan

Research plan strategies: contains research plan strategies for the organization or individual. It keeps everyone focused on the important things in user research.

Schedules: easy real time access to different schedules with date, time, location, research method, and the research data being studied. This helps organize all research activities for everyone to access.

Detailed research plans: contains data analysis information like when is the research happening and how to conduct it. This serves as a vision document to align everyone in the research, design, development, and product teams.

Research requests: contains research requests and gives qualitative data insights into the research needs, which helps drive growth in the UX team.


Data and insights

Research reports: contains reports from a research study, which may include themes, findings, and recommendations.

Research insights: contains findings acquired from the research study. While the research insights are already included in the research reports section, it is highly recommended that insights be saved in their own entities to make it easier to retrieve data, track the status, and like specific research assignments.  

Recordings and transcriptions: can be stored or linked from the repository. The research team should be able to summarize and transcribe each video to make the search easier in the future. These recordings and transcriptions should also easily be accessible for everyone in the team. 

Raw notes and artifacts: While this information is often removed and deleted after being analyzed, it is recommended to also include this in the research repository for future use. The importance of keeping raw notes and artifacts from past research sessions helps research teams get a glimpse of the insights that can be valuable to other aspects of the design.


How to build a research repository 

Build your UX research repository

How do you get started with your own research repository? It can be overwhelming to start but the most important thing you need to consider is the right tool or platform for your repository. 

For one, you need to look for tools that are flexible and considered generic or you can start your research repository by assembling tools that are already in use in your organization because most of these tools are already accessible and are inexpensive to set up. 

Additionally, getting started is a no-brainer for everyone since everyone should know how to use the tools already. 

However, some organizations fail to conduct this approach as most do not have the luxury of working on the existing tools that can be manipulated and transformed as a research repository. 

Some of the reasons why include complex functionalities, limited features that do not meet the organization’s needs when it comes to data storage and retrieval, and the need to use many tools for the repository to work.

If you find reusing existing tools and platforms complicated, you can look for available third party user research research repository tools that will suit your needs.   


Final notes

There is no doubt that a research repository is beneficial to UX research and to the overall organization function. Among the many benefits, it helps build important, high-level insights that are kept and readily be available anytime. It saves time, money, and effort if everyone in the UX team can easily and conveniently access data as compared to manually searching for data that either has been misplaced or lost.

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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