One of our clients realised they had a problem. They didn’t know enough about all the past user research the organisation had done to date. They had made an audit of everything they could find with some colleagues, but still didn’t know what was covered in all these documents. They felt that they were under-using this treasure trove of past research. And they came to us for help.
They have tons of research across different teams, products and business areas. The problem was that teams working today didn’t know what was available and relevant to what they were doing now. New starters didn’t know where to go to get up to speed with the research that had been done. And research managers didn’t know what gaps they had in their research.
A new way of looking at past research
We started by looking at a sample of reports to test out ways of summarising what’s there. We wrote a quick summary for each report and noted down the important findings from each report. We compared our summaries and decided on the right level of detail based on our test.
Looking at the nuggets of information that we’d pulled out from the reports we found a few patterns. Some referred to specific user groups, some to broader context and some to how a service worked in detail. This fitted neatly into an observation framework we were familiar with called AEIOU – Activities, Environments (here: Countries), Interactions, Objects (here: products), Users. We felt that this could be a useful lens to review the knowledge our client had.
So we tagged all our findings with:
– Which activity, interaction or user it primarily related to
– The country where the research was done
– The product the research related to
– The business area commissioning the report
This gave us flexibility with representing the data in different formats later on. And it also provides flexibility to teams who will use this in future to find what they’re interested in.
Creating new groups to show knowledge areas
We continued creating summaries with nuggets of information highlighted for the 60+ extensive reports with past research. We grouped these nuggets into knowledge areas. And then grouped these into a higher level of strategic interest to give a birds eye view of the existing knowledge they have. This high level review was a great way to look for knowledge gaps too. Some of these were obvious and stood out a mile, others became apparent through our ongoing engagement with the client.
Illustrated magazines as entry points to the reports
We wanted to create a really easy entry point into this knowledge. And we settled on two ways for people to find past research that could be interesting to them:
– A map of all the knowledge areas linked to our summaries and the original reports . This could be useful for a research team to scan the knowledge that exists and dive in where needed.
– A series of illustrated magazines highlighting and describing in an engaging way some of the most important knowledge areas. This could be helpful for stakeholders to get engaged in past research or for nex starters to get a flavour of what’s happened already.
Creating a visual entry point to the past research provides the client team a way to navigate our analysis and find the past research relevant to them and other stakeholders in the organisation. Based on the gaps identified in the existing research they have also defined their research agenda for the next year.