Secondary Research in UX

Summary: Secondary research is an essential foundation for UX work, necessary to explore the problem space and scope of prior projects and to identify important questions and best practices in the field of study. It also helps to focus the scope of your own project and often saves money.

You don’t have to do all the user-research work yourself. If somebody else already ran a study (and published it), grab it!

Have you ever completed a project only to find out that something very similar has already been done in your organization a couple of years ago? That situation is common, especially with rising employee-churn rates, and fueled the popularity of research repositories (e.g., Microsoft Human Insights System) and the growth of the research-operations community . It should also inspire practitioners to do more secondary research.

Secondary research, also known as desk research or, in academic contexts, literature review, refers to the act of gathering prior research findings and other relevant information related to a new project. It is a foundational part of any emerging research project and provides the project with background and context. Secondary research allows us to stand on the shoulders of giants and not to reinvent the wheel every time we initiate a new program or plan a study.

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