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UX Research

What can others learn from the origins of, thinking behind, and design of your technique or tool?: 

The thinking behind our technique—to compile data centrally, for everyone—is that the siloing of data serves no one. For everyone to march in lockstep toward the goal of improving the user experience, unnecessary barriers must be obliterated. When our engineers can access customer feedback, and our researchers can see site traffic logs, we build a mutual understanding of the context in which our colleagues work.

What insights, outcomes, information, etc. does your tool or technique have the capacity to generate or illuminate that might have been harder or impossible to arrive at using existing tools and techniques?: 
Connecting our data streams to an easy to to use UI made our collective knowledge truly usable and accessible. By streaming any and all data to a central location, our separate teams could synthesize their specific projects to company-wide knowledge. Other tools we’ve tested lacked easy data inputs, and offered limited to difficult outputs. By adopting Evernote as a storehouse of data, we were able to build on an already robust tool and suit it to our needs.
 
We're able to funnel information both passively (nightly scripts of aggregate analytics and application metrics) and actively (original reports, interview transcripts, and usability test results), all via email. Email is the key for success—sending emails is part and parcel of the normal workday. By eliminating a separate workflow—the need to visit a site, log in, navigate to the right place, and share data—we've reduced friction and made sharing easy.
 
How broadly can the results and outputs of your tool or technique be applied, and what are the limits of their validity and applicability?: 

We tried a lot of different solutions before landing on Evernote as our data hub. Wikis and custom databases always seemed too technical, and were bound to alienate some people who would love to contribute or just lurk. Your organization might find a simple Drupal install or a custom database works best. The storage tool really doesn’t matter, so long as it helps you adhere to these basic principles:

  • Easy in, easy out
  • Ubiquitous Access
  • Data for everyone, everyone's data

By adopting Evernote as a data warehouse and taking advantage of its suite of tools, we feel we’ve stretched an off-the-shelf product into unique territory. That Evernote offers mobile and desktop solutions, and uses email as an API, makes the product more than passable as a complete data solution.

In terms of validity and applicability, we’re confident that other UX teams, researchers, and growing teams could apply our model to myriad projects. The beauty of this solution is that it’s shapeless and data agnostic.

Please provide one or more concrete examples of how your tool or technique has positively affected the design and success of a product, service, or other experience.: 

In our case, our centralized database allows us to separate perception from reality. We're able to quickly ascertain whether a trend is petering out or gaining steam. Last year, our CEO, Ben, sent us an email asking for insights about a feature. “It seems like more people are asking for an easier way to embed YouTube videos in an email. Do you guys know if there’s a trend here?”

Normally a question like this would be left unanswered, because it’s not significant enough to warrant deep investigation—but now we could find quantitative answers in seconds. We  searched our big bucket of data, and sure enough there was a small trend emerging. “11,” we told Ben. “11?” Ben replied. “Yup, that’s how many people have mentioned YouTube video embedding in feedback, account closings, usability tests, and customer interviews.”
 
How might your tool or technique serve as the inspiration or starting point for future innovations?: 

From the insights we’re gleaning come new, research-driven strategies for our company. That’s new for us, and it’s completely changed the way we work in just a few short months. It’s made us a smarter company and has helped us create more informed design strategies. We no longer lose research, and we’re all more aware of the collective knowledge we possess. What we’re building is more than just connected data—it’s a connected company. Now we're constantly looking to add further dimensions to our data, with new tools that build off our database.