With a growing product and design team that is constantly seeking user data and feedback to make decisions, we needed a way to analyze, disperse, and store user feedback.
Enter a user research repository.
A user research repository, sometimes called a UX repository or just research repository, is one central place for storing, analyzing, and collaborating on user research.
Gone are the days of rereading research reports and presentations to find answers to your questions or track down research that you swear you remember seeing six months ago.
Instead, research repositories provide a place to group and tag insights, allowing you to identify trends or patterns in the data using a tagging system.
Perhaps more importantly, they democratize research findings by getting insights and findings outside the heads of individuals and into a shared space anyone with permission can access.
In one click, developers, product managers, or anyone else you invite to your repository can understand the context and see the evidence that led to a particular insight. This traceability leaves less room for questions on methodology or context, and makes space for people to access the information they need to take action.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “but I don’t have a research team. Why do I need a research repository?”
I’m so glad you asked.
Nearly Everyone Is a Researcher
You might not realize it, but almost all teams within an organization conduct user research, even if you’re not referring to it that way.
Designers test prototypes, product managers interview users, sales talks to prospects. Every one of these interactions is a customer data collection opportunity you can use to make data-driven decisions later on.
Without a research repository, all of that great information lives within the brains of each individual. Or if you’re lucky, perhaps in a shared drive of documents that get updated when people remember or find time to do so.
With a research repository, you can transform your customer interactions into an ever-updated space for this valuable information to live and be accessed on-demand. Research repositories offer the ability to ‘tag’ session transcripts, notes, or video clips. Using tags that you can define at a project level as well as globally, you can better structure your data and prepare it for further analysis.
Maybe you do have a research team or a dedicated researcher and you’re wondering how a research repository can help them.
Beyond what I’ve already mentioned, a research repository can help save your team time doing non-value-adding tasks.
Having all user research and feedback in one place with tags reduces the time individuals need to spend reading through old reports or rewatching Gong videos to find what they are looking for. It also reduces the chances of duplicating research for questions you might already have the answers to.
Before you go out and purchase the first research repository that you find, try following this process to find the tool that will best meet your needs. Bonus: There’s a template to help you conduct your assessment.
Determining Our Criteria
We needed a tool that was flexible enough to grow as we did but robust enough to help us rapidly analyze feedback and make it available to anyone in the organization who needs it.
I started by scouring the internet for any and all articles I could find about research repositories. Using the knowledge from those resources and our own processes, I created a list of requirements any tool would need to satisfy, rated them based on necessity, and ultimately converted that to a feature matrix in a Google Sheets doc.
Chili Piper’s requirements were grouped broadly into four categories: analysis capabilities, collaboration, security, and integrations/flexibility. The requirements were translated into features to conduct the actual assessment of tools.
One caution here: It’s important to know at this point who your stakeholders and users of the research repository are going to be so you can select the tool that best fits everyone’s needs.
Knowing this while defining your requirements will help you make a more informed assessment and decision.
Finding the candidates
Using G2, articles, and our existing suite of tools, I identified seven solutions to evaluate further. They were:
Google Drive / GSuite*
*Though these tools are not user research repositories in the traditional sense, they are software we already use as an organization so therefore I wanted to assess if they could meet our needs.
From there I assessed all of the options against the feature matrix using a mix of each company’s website, speaking to their support or sales team to clarify things, and assessing online reviews from users.
Three solutions stood out as our top candidates — Dovetail, EnjoyHQ, and Condens — and I moved on to the last step: Demoing the products.
Perhaps the industry leader in this emerging category, Dovetail offers a robust research repository as well as the ability to purchase their analysis tool or their participant management system as stand-alone tools (both solutions are included if you purchase the research repository).
Though not necessarily a standard feature in a research repository, the participant management capability was something we really wanted the tool that we selected to be able to do.
Dovetail’s interface is quite lovely and they have a large library of resources to help you set your repository up for success as well as learn user research tips, tricks, and best practices.
EnjoyHQ had the most integration options of all the tools we assessed. It could serve as a one-stop-shop for all customer data and feedback rather than just a user research repository if that’s what you need.
Depending on your package, you could integrate with some of the tools you already know and love, like your customer support system, NPS tool, CRM, and so much more. If they don’t have an integration built already, you can use their API or add data via spreadsheets or .csv.
Condens UI makes analyzing individual research sessions quick and easy.
You’re able to open up a conclusion (think of this as your final report or findings document) on the right-hand side of your screen while looking at the session transcript, notes, or video on the left.
From there, you can drag and drop transcripts and video snippets directly into your conclusion. Team members with ‘Researcher’ permissions can collaborate on sessions or conclusions in real-time while anyone that you grant ‘Stakeholder’ access to can leave comments and view raw data files.
Like Dovetail, Condens also has a participant management system to track who you have engaged with for research.
All three research repository tools were full of valuable analysis and collaboration features. It was incredibly difficult to make a final decision!
While lesser known of the other two tools, Condens met most of our wants and needs as a research team.
The speed to create a conclusion report as well as the multiple levels of permissions available within an account were two primary drivers for us. We have been using the platform since September and cannot wait to see how it impacts our goal of being a data-driven, product-led organization.
Regardless of the tool that you select, bringing a user research repository into your suite of tools sooner rather than later will only help your organization optimize user insights and craft a better experience for your customers.
We invite you to borrow our process and template, and let us know how your selection process goes!