It started as a repository and become a lot more as we listened to our users. Share research bookmark with your team!
A UX research repository centralizes, houses, and organizes research insights, user feedback, artifacts that researchers and clients can access and utilize with speed and ease. Compare this to research sans repository: data scattered amongst different platforms, folders, spreadsheets, emailed zoom links.
Rooted in the ResearchOps concept of Knowledge Management, a repository is essentially a curated, living archive that can save researchers time and effort keeping track of changes, key insights and nuggets and analysis.
What are the benefits of an archive?
Imagine you’re at a local library and want to locate a conversational Spanish language guide. There are other errands to run but you can spare 15-20 minutes. How will you find what you’re looking for?
You have three options:
1) Look through every aisle, stack and shelf until you find what you’re looking for 2) Ask a reference librarian to help you locate a good guide(s) or 3) Find an open computer and enter a keyword search in the digital library catalog. Which option is a better use of your limited time?
2 and 3 are probably your best bet. In fact, you’re likely confident that either one will help. But how are you so sure?
You know that someone took the time to create a specialized system for categorizing and organizing materials. This system was created for you. It’s set up in such a way that you are more likely to find what you’re looking for and, if need be, can find extra support. These options are efficient and often provide a direct path to what you’re looking for. A fully functioning research archive can have a similar effect.
Where do we begin?
When setting out to build a repository, our objective must be clear. It is both a research and a learning space. Consider the following:
- Create a consistent and inclusive structure and format
- All research should live in centralized to one location
- Included information must be relevant to program, study, and team goals
- All artifacts, data and analysis must be linked and therefore traceable and visible
Program/Module spaces refer to the repository in its entirety. For example, in Dovetail each repository is organized by specific folders which incrementally introduce and expand on both the program and individual research projects (RP).
Individual research project spaces increase information visibility and strengthen research. They hold everything from project overviews to raw data drawn from individual research studies. Ideally, researchers have information at their fingertips.
How do we build successful repositories?
These are the steps that allow teams to build useful repositories:
- Consider program and research needs
- Learn and collect artifacts
- Create All About spaces
- Add DEBE artifacts
- Write a Use Case
This formula is the starting point. Once it is established, continue building the space.
A Closer Look
Let’s dive a little deeper into the steps for building a repository.
Step 1: Consider project and research needs
Each repository should meet the needs of the program and team. Contemplate the following when gathering research needs and goals for each Program/RP space:
- Frequency of research conducted
- Methodology and artifact types
- Inclusivity: which structured approach is effective your team?
- What has already been recorded/archived?
- What is the team’s preferred repository platform?
These points serve as a guide for researchers and repository archivists. Taking them into account will make the research space more relevant, usable, and effective for long-term repository utilization.
Step 2: Gather and Learn
Acquiring knowledge of unique team and research goals allows us to determine what content is necessary to include in the repository. Ideally, as much as possible. Remember, this is also a learning space. Information gathering coincides with step 4.
Step 3: Create All About spaces
At this point we are ready to begin building. It’s time to create All About documentation. This is a repository user’s first introduction to the archive, whether they’re learning about the program in its entirety or a single research project.
For example, an All About research project space will serve as an overview of the project, its users, past/ongoing/pending research steps, and internal/external reference links elaborate on key points. This is also the first instance of linked and traceable content. In Dovetail, links help strengthen existing content by creating a learning path back to evidence and processes housed within the DEBE space.
Step 4: The DEBE Space
As we learn from research artifacts and documentation, this also provides us with an opportunity to begin archiving content.
This is a pivotal step as it allows us to utilize the Discover, Explore, Build and Evaluate (DEBE) framework. Take time to centralize artifacts to this specific location at the outset. Be strategic and clearly name, label and link artifacts, as necessary. This will make future searches and additions easier. Remember, both the All about RP space and the Use Case (step 5) content will link back to heart of the RP archive: the DEBE space.
Note: The program overview contains different documentation than RP. Reflect on the purpose of an All About space. This is not a research project All about space, it is an introduction to the entire program. This will include the following:
- All About Program
- Program level status
- Onboarding documentation by role type
- Access guide(s)
Including each component contributes to a high-level understanding of the program.
Step 5: Write a Use Case
By now program and RP introductions have been made and artifacts have/are being compiled. Content is linked and traceable, so that nothing is buried. Now it is time to write the RP use case. Just as the All about space provides a general overview of the project, the Use Case zeroes in on the research. The Use Case should provide the following information:
- Who was involved in the research?
- Define the problem
- Identify the Personas (user quote, archetypes, needs and goals)?
- How was research conducted (process and methodology)?
- List of all artifacts (linked to DEBE space): raw data, analysis, documentation, etc.
- User feedback and related content
Establishing a centralized and navigable archival space with easy access to key findings and raw data lessens the amount of digging and effort researchers put into accessing research. This enables them to easily reference program and study information and present relevant findings with impact.