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The Fountain Institute

One of my essential research tools

publishedabout 2 months ago
2 min read

Hey Reader,

It's me, Hannah, here this week to tell you about one of my essential research tools.

We have a small team here at TFI, but we run into the same problems as the big ones. How do we know what our other teammates have found in their research?

There are many ways to do this, but today we will talk about one simple and fast way to help you bring your teammate quickly on board with each other's research—data walls.

What is a Data Wall:

Besides accessibility, a data wall has other benefits to research, such as a space to reflect on what you have found.

Consolidating and reflecting on all the data you collect during research is necessary. The vastness of the data collected is too large to hold in one's memory.

This reflection is done best with other team members to get a variety of perspectives. Creating a data wall (also known as a research wall) is an excellent way to do this in a visual form while bringing in outside expertise.

Data Walls provide a visual place to "marinate" in the research data.

TFI Examples:

What’s on my data wall: Screenshots, videos, frameworks, websites bookmarks, notes, and PDFs

What’s on my data wall: Interview notes, interview debriefs, screenshots, competitive research, canvases, and notes

Collaborative Data Wall

You can create your data wall and share it with your team, but if you can, create one together.

1. Prepare

To begin, you will need to prepare the data for the data wall. I suggest using a program like MIro. When preparing the data, you can collect images, including photos, screenshots, videos, meaningful quotes, and other important data sets.

2. Build

Now it's time to start building the wall together. Begin by dropping materials on the workspace and start clustering them meaningfully. Don't overthink where you are putting the information or defining the clusters. You will have an opportunity to do this later.

3. Cluster

Now that you have all the information on the wall reflect on the initial clusters. Move things around until you have a group conscience on the types of groupings you have. Then name the groups and start to identify the connections you see between the sets.

4. Collaborate

To ensure everyone can form a collective understanding of the data, try to move and cluster collaboratively. As your team works with Post-its and other data points on the data wall, they will attach the location of the items in their memory. If you move Post-its around between working sessions, it destroys spatial memory cues. Always announce to the group when you delete a post-it or move a cluster significantly.

Digital Data Wall

You could create a physical data wall in your office. But that is not always possible, especially with our hybrid working environments. I suggest using a digital whiteboard, such as Miro. There are many advantages to creating a digital data wall. Such as:

  • Dynamic - screenshot websites, embed videos and tables, bookmark websites, write notes, draw on your data, and even jump links between sections.
  • Visual - images, colors, lines, and shapes can all be changed easily to organize your data.
  • Non-linear - move your findings around spatially without only vertical or horizontal axis constraints.
  • Searchable - being able to search your digital data wall is a game changer.

Building a data wall seems simple, but it can be a game changer in your research practice!

To learn how to gather UX data, check out this free 7-day mini-course on UX Research.

It's 7 lessons for designers that want to get better at research.

or Read a sample first

Until next week!

Hannah Baker
Educator & Co-Founder
The Fountain Institute

P.S. We just announced the August meetup. Grab a spot for Taking the Wheel of Your Design Career with Damian Martone, and stick around after the talk for our new networking groups!