Use existing research and data

There may be research findings and data available for reuse in your agency. 

Existing research and data is a good starting point, but it shouldn’t replace your own user research.

When to use existing research and data

You can use existing research at the start of a project to save you time and money and understand who your users are and what they need. Use existing research to:

  • follow a user-centred design process 
  • allocate budget and resources to a project. 

What to consider

When using existing research or data, consider:  

  • if the information is limited or out of date 
  • whether it addresses the context or problem 
  • if it includes all types of participants.  

Find existing research and data 

Your organisation may have research and data about users and their needs. 

There are many sources you can explore, these include:  

  • call centre data: call volumes can help you prioritise issues and understand the main user frustrations 
  • surveys results: results can help you discover pain points and open text field responses can provide context in the users’ own words  
  • web analytics: can help you explore the behaviour of users on your website
  • search logs: can reveal pain points users may face finding information and guide you toward patterns in search terms and words users prefer 
  • social media: can help you recognise trends in user perceptions and gain a broader perspective on user commentary 
  • organisation reports: annual reports and strategy documents can help you recognise different user groups and gain insight into user demographics and needs 
  • engagement teams: if your organisation has an engagement team, client relationship or outreach team, they can provide valuable insights. 

Find external sources of data  

Online research 

It’s a good idea to explore similar products and services that use best practice. There is a wealth of information on the internet that can help you get started. Look at usability blogs, research papers and case studies and consider: 

  • how other people are doing what you are doing 
  • who else is interested in the topic or user group 
  • what has worked well and what hasn't.

Open data and demographics  

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

Bring your research and data together 

To gain a clear picture of the users, consolidate your research and data and analyse the research you have collected. 

This will help you understand what users’ need and decide if further research or exploration is required.