Use existing research and data

There may be research and data about your users and their needs already available to you within your organisation.


Why use existing research and data?

Using existing research has these benefits:

  • It can save time and money.
  • It can provide you with evidence of who your users are and their needs in the initial phase of a project.

This can help gain support in your organisation for:

  • following a user-centred design process
  • allocating budget and resources to a project

When to use existing research and data

When creating content, consider all the possible users of your product or service. Existing research and data can help you find out about your users and their needs.

Existing research and data is a good starting point, but it shouldn’t be relied on as comprehensive. Sometimes sources may be limited or dated. Existing research and data may not address your specific context or problems. It also won’t help the team to develop a deep understanding of, and empathy for, users and their needs.

Existing research and data shouldn’t replace your own user research. User research is the best way to learn about users and create services that meet their needs.

Find existing research and data

Your organisation may already have research and data about users and their needs. There are many sources you can explore. These include:

Call centre data

Call centre data can provide information on your users' main frustrations. Call volumes about different issues can help you prioritise usability issues with your product or service.

Online and phone surveys

Surveys may have been conducted already. Use them to find user pain points and areas that need improvement.

Web analytics

Web analytics involves analysing quantitative data which can help you explore the behaviour of users on your website. The most common source is Google Analytics. Analytics can help you recognise usability problems and user types. Often analytics are set up on a website but the data isn't analysed.

Search logs

Search logs have a lot of information about what users want and how they look for it. Information in search logs can provide evidence for usability problems. Logs can highlight when users are struggling with the way information is presented on your site. Looking at search terms can provide guidance on the words people actually use. Identifying these problems in the search logs can provide evidence for usability problems.

Social media

Your organisation's social media channels can help you recognise trends in users' perceptions. Your agency may also have social media monitoring set up. Reviewing this gives a broader perspective of user commentary.

Previous research reports

Many large organisations will already have conducted user research in the past. This research can help you recognise different user groups and their needs.

Other organisational reports

Other reports your organisation creates can also provide information about users. For example, annual reports and strategy documents. These often contain information about user numbers and demographics.

Engagement teams

Many organisations have teams that directly engage with users. They are sometimes called client relationship or outreach teams. They can provide valuable insights.

Find other possible sources

Desktop research

There is a wealth of information on the internet that can help you get started. Explore similar products and services that use best practice.

Consider questions such as:

  • How are other people doing what you are doing?
  • Who else is interested in the topic or user group?
  • What has worked and what hasn't worked?
  • What usability issues have others discovered?

Providing information on what has worked in similar cases can help you gain support within your organisation.

Consider looking at these types of resources to get started:

  • usability blogs
  • research papers
  • case studies

Source information about users

There may be public information available about your users. Possible sources include:

Bring your research and data together

To develop a clear picture of the users, consolidate your research and data. Read or analyse the research you have collected. Decide the following:

User segments and needs

Find out who is using your product and service, and if there are clear groups of users with different needs.

Common interactions

Find out the user journey and user experience of your service, for example:

  • Why did they need to use the service?
  • What did they plan to do?
  • What did they do?
  • Were they satisfied with the service?

Gaps in the research

Decide on research or further exploration that still needs to be done.