After you finish a research project, your hard-earned insights shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves. That’s how they get lost in inboxes, folders, or worse — the trash.
You need a home for your findings, one that's as easy to organize today as it is to search at a moment’s notice years later.
You need a UX research repository.
Without a central repository, your research efforts can become inefficient and even wasteful. Research lives scattered across multiple tools without a consistent format for collecting, synthesizing, and analyzing data. This makes it difficult to share what you learn to inform your organization’s key product decisions.
In this guide, we’ll cover all things research repositories – from definitions, benefits, and tools, to tips for building a healthy repository that enables your company to successfully conduct, organize, store, and access research.
Let’s get started.
A UX research repository — "repo" for short — is a central place to store, organize, and share an organization’s research artifacts and insights.
Think of it as a digital library dedicated to your company’s research knowledge and data.
Today, most research repositories are cloud-based. Content found in a repository typically falls into one of two broad categories:
At the organizational level, the ideal repository should promote and advance UX research awareness by welcoming participation from leadership, product owners, and other cross-functional stakeholders. It should also encourage operationally-sound habits and practices for greater productivity at every stage of the research process, from planning through synthesis.
In recent years, research repositories have grown in popularity due to the variety of benefits they offer to researchers and their organizations. These benefits include:
One of the main benefits of having a UX research repository is that it provides a secure, centralized location to store and organize research data. This makes it easy for information to be quickly accessed and retrieved as needed, saving time and resources.
By storing all user research data in a single place, teams can avoid the costs of redundant work and even use existing insights to augment new research.
Additionally, a centralized UX research repository can help teams identify research gaps and areas to study in the future based on the needs of their organizations. For easy retrieval and use, it’s important to develop a repeatable system for tagging research artifacts and logging metadata. This ensures information is discoverable for everyone with access.
Back to the two content types of research repositories.
Input should include UX research methods and methodologies, protocols, and other standard approaches that help guarantee the consistency and accuracy of findings and insights gained from the research you conduct.
Consistency is vital. It ensures that your research isn’t arbitrary or subjective, and can be independently replicated by other people in the organization or elsewhere using the same or similar methods.
The same goes for output. Whether it’s a written insight report or a collection of clipped video highlights from a user interview recording, each should have its own standard format and conventions.
The importance of data-driven (or data-informed, as some prefer to say) decision-making can’t be overstated. After all, that’s really what having a healthy repository is all about.
A centralized UX research repository is a valuable asset for product, design, and development teams because it allows them to store and access powerful data and insights. This enables product managers, designers, and development teams to better understand user behavior, challenges, preferences, and expectations — and ultimately, make user-centric decisions to build better products.
Planning for future research. Taking notes during research. Transcribing interviews. Analyzing raw data. Identifying key highlights. Generating actionable insights. Preparing rich, engaging presentations and reports.
Depending on how you work, each of these research activities may involve several tools. That’s a lot of jumping around and context switching, which isn’t great for productivity.
If you’re not careful, your research toolstack can grow too fast and too big, making it difficult to manage.
But, finding the right repository for your situation will help you streamline your research processes. This can significantly reduce the need for juggling multiple tools, save valuable time, and improve the quality of results. It also sets you up with the systems you need to scale as your organization — and its demand for research — grows.
Using a repository to streamline processes ensures insights can easily be traced back to the raw data they came from. It’s your organization’s source of truth for UX research.
Conducting research isn’t the only way to uncover insights. Incoming user feedback is also incredibly valuable. That’s why researchers often include various feedback sources in their research repositories.
Feedback can originate from diverse channels such as public reviews on sites like G2 and TrustPilot, sales conversations, and customer support tickets.
Leveraging information from various sources helps keep a healthy mix of positive and negative feedback always coming in. Not only does this widen research perspectives for better decision-making, but it also strengthens the quality of research by using all available data and potentially minimizes the need or scope for new studies.
Having a repository makes research a team sport by facilitating collaboration across the entire organization, both in person and remotely. With a central repository, research findings can be shared and discussed collectively, which encourages cross-functional collaboration.
This democratization of research insights boosts transparency while ensuring that teams are aligned and working towards achieving common goals. It helps prevent the duplication of research efforts since team members can easily see what others have and haven’t done.
A repository can also provide a framework that empowers non-researchers (e.g., product managers) to independently carry out safe, effective user research without having to depend exclusively on research staff.
All this talk about storing research. But what about your participants and their data?
While a participant database may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about establishing a UX research repository, it should factor into your decision-making process.
A healthy participant panel helps researchers keep a pulse on participant interest, activity, and engagement. You can use it to filter and find candidates with the right attributes for your study. You can see who has participated in past research and provide insight into the recruitment of participants for upcoming research. It can also help prevent over-contacting anyone (because the last thing you want to do is annoy your panel).
These are all reasons why it makes sense to integrate your panel with your repository if possible. Keeping participant data and research data close makes for tighter execution at every step.
A research repository makes democratizing research in your organization possible. Access may not necessarily be reserved for only those in the research department (or R&D) but may also be granted to other teams, stakeholders, or everyone in the organization.
From product managers and designers to marketers and sales reps, access to an organization’s repository lowers the barrier to entry for getting involved in research, simply by exploring what others are working on.
That said, adequate access monitoring and control measures must be put in place, and training should be offered to those who are new to using a research repository.
Before you pick your repository tool, it’s important to evaluate the other tools and processes your organization currently uses. The road to launching an effective research repository can be roughly broken down into the following five steps:
A common error when trying to find the best UX research repository for your needs is to dive straight into the search for tools and try to compare them. (It’s why we haven’t so much as mentioned a single option so far in this guide.) Like any type of software, comparing repositories is a difficult task if you don’t have a clear understanding of what to look for.
First things first: seek support and input from your team and stakeholders early on.
It might help to conduct stakeholder interviews at this stage to ensure the collaboration and engagement with your future repository. Involving stakeholders can help you see things you might have missed and increase the likelihood of smooth operations once the repository is adopted.
Now, it’s time to define your goals for the ideal UX research repository in your organization. What do you intend to achieve (describe the best-case scenario in detail)? How will building a repository impact you as a researcher, as well as your stakeholders and the business as a whole? Does this decision to build a repository align with larger business objectives?
Consider developing a mind map of what research looks like for your team, or even a want a journey map for the entire research process, outlining what it looks from start to finish.Setting strategic goals for your repository will help your team to better understand its functions and benefits and help you maximize its adoption and impact.
Once you’ve set strategic goals for your UX research repository, the next step is establish your research team's requirements. This may require you to conduct a gap analysis.
The first thing to consider will be the repository tool itself and how its features align with your strategic goals. In most situations, it makes sense to place an emphasis on data security, accessibility settings for team members and stakeholders, user-friendliness, and ease of sharing research findings. Be as thorough as possible.
You’ll also need to consider potential workflow changes given the habits of the employees involved. The bigger your company is, the more sensitive this will be. What changes will have to be made to your current processes? What new tasks will need to be planned for? Which procedures will need modification, and which ones will be scrapped? In particular, think through challenges faced by the product managers as they hold a great deal of operational responsibility.
With these considerations in mind, draw up a rough list of potential repository tool candidates that match your goals.
In a sea of tools, where do you even start?
Likely with a Google search — but analyzing the top results one by one can get confusing fast. Using a software review comparison site like Capterra or G2 will likely be more effective in making your shortlist of tools that meet your requirements.
Better yet, ask fellow researchers you know for recommendations directly or post online where your peers hang out, such as the ResearchOps Slack Community.
Once you’ve developed your shortlist of tools, drill deeper. Depending on the size of your team and budget, pricing may be the first thing you check or the last. Either way, get a ballpark idea of how much you can expect to spend (and perhaps be wary if a company doesn’t make their pricing publicly available). Take a look at help centers to see how easy it is to find answers to problems and get in touch with support. Check out the blog – does this company put out educational content you might actually read? Do you have a library of helpful how-to videos or templates? And what about their social presence — do they seem to have an engaged community of evangelists or are their accounts littered with complaints from frustrated customers.
During your due diligence, you and your team will hopefully be able to weed out the pretenders and narrow your list down to the true contenders. From there, it’s time to take your new tool(s) for a spin.
Most UX research repository tools offer two ways to get started: immediately with a trial (often free) in just a few clicks or in the next few days by scheduling a demo with the sales team. (If you’re shopping for an enterprise plan for a larger team, it’ll be the demo.)
Then, it’s time for more due diligence. If possible, work with your team to trial and/or demo multiple tools at once. You’ll want to evaluate everything from ease of setup and onboarding to actually organizing and storing your research. It’s also important to get a feel for the company representative(s) who will be managing your account. Do they inspire confidence or concern? Are they invested in achieving your team’s goals or just here to check the boxes?
Not all trial and demo processes will look the same. Make sure to take copious notes throughout, as these will come in handy later if you need to build a business case to present to your procurement team.
Your due diligence is done. Your team has collectively determined a winner (after duking it out in a spirited debate over two final options, of course). You’ve even made your way through procurement and legal with any major issues. Now, it’s time to onboard your new UX research repository.
By now, you should already have a solid idea of what to expect from your trial run and product demos. Next, you need to delegate implementation to one or more capable individuals. Key roles here include purchasing the the repository product and managing billing, defining the repository’s data structures, and granting access to users. If you're leaving an old tool for your new tool, that also means gearing up for a repository migration of all existing research artifacts.
You’ll also want put together an onboarding plan for all involved stakeholders and a presentation to share with the company as a whole.
Adopting a research repository can be a gradual process that takes time and requires an effective implementation plan to ensure success. It won’t happen overnight.
Consider ranking such goals and focusing on those you intend to achieve earlier to avoid exerting too much pressure on yourself and your team.
I know what you’re thinking.
Finally, the millionth edition of the the “# Best [ Software ] Tools in 2023” I’ve been waiting for! Surely there won’t be any bias and the company writing this guide won’t rank itself #1 above all its competitors.
You’ve made it this far and we’ve covered a lot. It’s only right we mix in a joke.
On a serious note, there’s no one-size-fits-all repository tool. (And if anyone tells you that, run.) So in the interest of transparency, we’ve compiled 8 of the top research repository tools on the market. They’re in no particular order, but Great Question is first because, well, it’s our website.
At Great Question, we’re building the home of research user-centric teams, like Canva, Drift, and Brex to name a few. A cornerstone of this is our repository. Think of the Great Question Research Repository as an insights hub where you can:
We’re also hard at work building smart, ethical ways to leverage AI for UX research. This means helping researches save time on tedious tasks so they can focus more on more important, impactful work. Think AI-suggested interview summaries, survey questions, highlights, titles, and tags.
What makes Great Question different from other tools is that it’s much more than just a repository. With our all-in-one platform, you can:
If you’re ready to take our repository for a spin (or interested in learning more about some of the features listed above), book a demo here to get started.
Founded in 2017, Dovetail is a popular research repository that enables users to generate research reports in a matter of minutes. This cloud-based customer knowledge software assists product, design, and development teams with user research and collaboration. Notable features include full-text search, usability testing, pattern recognition, file sharing, tagging, analytics, and graphical reporting.
Through the Dovetail platform, administrators can store user research data in a unified location, develop procedures for customer interviews, embed videos, images, and recordings in notes, as well as capture demographic and qualitative data. Dovetail also allows teams to analyze data, including survey responses, transcripts, and notes; create a standard set of tags for different projects; leverage natural language processing (NLP) for sentiment analysis; and explore metrics on graphs and charts.
Dovetail helps managers boost collaboration between user experience designers, product teams, and other stakeholders, in addition to providing role-based permissions to users, maintaining project data, and storing billing information for a multiplicity of customers. Team members can search for tags, notes, or insights across various projects as well as export data in CSV format.
Grain is a UX research repository that helps researchers collect and organize user interviews as well as create and share research insights and findings with visually appealing stories. During these user interviews, Grain can record, tag, transcribe, and organize your qualitative data. It also allows users to import their pre-recorded interviews from Zoom Cloud or manually upload them.
You can add your team members, stakeholders, and collaborators to your workspace so that they can access all your research data at any time. As soon as you’ve recorded your interview in Grain, you can slice and dice your data in a variety of ways to make sharing insights easy. Selecting the text in the transcript will enable you to clip and share important moments in a user interview. You can also create an engaging story by combining insights obtained from multiple interviews.
Copy and share the Grain AI summary with one click. Also, share insights and key moments with other teams by copying and pasting to embed Grain videos in communication software such as Slack and collaboration tools such as Notion or Miro. Grain is equipped with a native integration capability that makes it possible for you to send research insights directly to your product board.
Userbit is a tool that not only enables you to collect and store data from user interviews (with highlights, transcripts, and tags) but also includes a suite of features to help you transform data into meaningful insights.
Easily convert your transcripts to visual word clouds or affinity diagrams with Userbit's visualizations. Userbit offers a great way to quickly spot patterns and relationships in your data in order to start generating insights. Another valuable Userbit feature is the capacity to develop user personas directly from research data, allowing you to save a lot of time since it eliminates the need to manually create personas from scratch. With Userbit, you’ll have a mental picture of your users based on how they think and behave. This can be very helpful when attempting to design an intuitive user experience.
Userbit ensures easy sharing of findings with your team members and stakeholders, thus enabling the whole team to collaborate effectively so as to develop the ideal design process and user path.
Condens is a tool that can help you structure and organize your user research data effectively. With Condens, you can create a UX research repository that's both easy to use and well-organized. Condens is designed for anyone: researchers, product managers, designers, and those with little or no technical background.
One distinguishing feature of Condens is its pleasant visual interface, which allows you to view all your data at a glance. You can quickly filter and search for particular items, making it easy to locate what you're looking for, even when faced with a huge amount of data. The AI-assisted transcription feature can speedily transcribe user interviews to ensure prompt data analysis.
Condens boasts a broad range of integrations that include the capacity to easily import data from Google Sheets, Excel, and other research repositories. One advantage of this is that you can start using Condens without having to worry about transferring your data manually. So if easy onboarding and an appealing visual interface are your top priorities, Condens checks all the boxes.
Acquired by UserZoom in 2021 which later merged with UserTesting in 2022, EnjoyHQ is a cloud-based repository that helps UX and product teams learn faster from customers by streamlining the customer research process. EnjoyHQ facilitates the easy centralization, organization, and sharing of all customer insights and data in one location. It has the components needed to build an effective research system that scales.
EnjoyHQ integrates with popular communication and collaboration tools, providing the ability to gather all your data together in seconds. Third-party platforms that seamlessly integrate with EnjoyHQ include Google Docs, Zendesk, Jira Service Desk, Drift, AskNicely, Dropbox, Trello, Trustpilot, and more. Organize all your data in one place, accelerate your analysis process, and easily share insights with team members and stakeholders through EnjoyHQ.
Key features include a collaborative workspace, user management, customer segmentation, sentiment analysis, and app review translations. You can categorize data through tags, metadata, and highlights and also develop a taxonomy to classify research findings for analysis. Managers can prepare summaries and reports as well as monitor audience engagement with respect to the displayed insights. Additionally, presenters can save reports in graphical formats and use links to share them with team members.
Aurelius is a repository that was built by UX researchers for UX researchers. It’s a balanced blend between cost-effectiveness and a suite of features to collect, organize, and synthesize research data. Aurelius helps you analyze data and quickly turn it into valuable insights. Its lean features ensure that you pay for only what you need and nothing else. The Aurelius magic uploader enables you to easily upload your data into the program. Use the Aurelius-Zapier integration or the Aurelius-Zoom integration to import spreadsheets, audio, video, notes, and other file types.
The powerful global tagging feature can be used to tag notes, key insights, and recommendations. AI-powered intelligent keyword analysis helps you identify patterns even in large datasets. The universal search feature will help you quickly locate old research reports, notes, and other data. Add recommendations to each key insight, and Aurelius will automatically generate an editable report you can share with other users.
Aurelius can serve as an extension of your daily workflow in terms of promoting collaboration, encouraging independent research, and helping you obtain research insights that can drive stakeholder action.
Looppanel is a newer repository founded in 2021 with the goal of enabling product and design teams around the world to build products their users love. This AI-powered research assistant streamlines user research by managing everything from initiating calls to creating the perfect user interview templates, recording and transcribing sessions, and assisting teams in discovering and sharing insights faster
Some of its most popular features include taking time-stamped notes during a user conversation and sharing video clippings from a call with a single click. With Looppanel, teams can analyze and share their findings from Zoom-based user interviews in minutes and centralize research data in one place. It offers highly accurate transcripts across multiple languages, allows users to collaborate with team members for free, and lets them share reports and summaries via a link.
Aside from these core UX research repositories, there are other general tools that can be adapted to get the job of a repository done. Here are a few of them:
Notion is a powerful, versatile tool you can do a lot with, from research documentation to project management. It's easy to use, incredibly flexible, and has a tidy interface, making it great software for housing user research data. Notion enables you to create custom databases, which is great for organizing your data. You can also attach rich media such as video, audio recordings, and images to your databases.
Like most modern apps, Notion provides a wide range of integrations. For instance, you can easily import data from other programs such as Google Sheets and Excel. This can be useful if you wish to consolidate all your user research data in a single location. Furthermore, extensions such as Repo can help you transform Notion into a dedicated UX research repository with features like highlighting and tagging. Enrich your research data in Notion by adding videos and key moments from your interviews.
Notion is a potential option for researchers, product managers, and designers looking for a versatile tool that can serve a variety of purposes.
Though Jira is mainly a project management tool popular for software development teams, it can also serve as a storage medium for UX research data and projects. Jira boasts a variety of features that make it suitable for user research. For instance, it can be used to track interviews, facilitate user testing sessions, undertake other user research tasks, and create custom reports. Jira also allows you to create a dedicated research project, making it easy for your team to keep all research data in one place. You can use it to follow the progress of user research and identify areas where improvements are required.
The ability to add attachments to Jira tickets makes storing and sharing user research data, such as screenshots and interview recordings, easy. Jira can be somewhat overwhelming if you are new to project management tools, but it is nonetheless a good tool to store your user research data.
Airtable is another database tool capable of serving diverse purposes, including UX research. It comes with a user research template that helps you avoid the stress involved in having to set up a database. A combination of that user research template and another feature — the user feedback template — can help you organize your user research data and feedback in one location.
Easily add attachments such as images, audio files, and videos to enrich your user research data. Organize and find your user research data using the views feature to filter and sort your data or create custom formulas to calculate things like the net promoter score. You can also visualize your data through bar graphs and other means.
Confluence is a shared workspace developed by Atlassian to create and manage all your work. Confluence makes it easy to organize and find the information you need. This is one of the main reasons it can be adapted into an effective repository. You can group related pages in a dedicated space for your work, team, or cross-functional projects. Depending on permissions, access to a Confluence workspace can be reserved for only you or other members of your company. Page trees create a hierarchical list of pages within a workspace, highlight topics on parent pages, and help ensure you and your team work tidily.
To find something, just do a quick search of existing pages. You can even locate comments posted to a page by others. Visual improvements for UX concept documentation not only make sense but are simple in Confluence. It facilitates the easy integration of a variety of add-ons through which you can quickly attach visual information such as image maps, flow charts, and other diagrams via your editor.
Concept visualization, prototypes, and spec files are all integral components of UX design and should form part of your UX documentation as well. Confluence provides you with the opportunity to visually preview a wide range of file types that you can utilize to bolster your written research documents.
To build a healthy, mature UX research practice in any organization, you need a repository. But a research repository without a clear strategy won't last long.
That’s why it’s essential to align with your team on strategic goals for your repository, perform due diligence on your tooling options, and run collaborative onboarding to maximize adoption and impact.
With this guide in your back pocket, you’re well on your way to building an effective repository that makes research vital to your organization.
Jack is the Senior Content Lead at Great Question, the end-to-end research platform for customer-centric teams. Previously, he led content marketing and strategy as the first hire at two insurtech startups, Breeze and LeverageRx. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.