Kate Towsey

User research assets: treasure or trash?


Hours of audio and video, photographs, notes, decks, matrices, various types of visual presentations, and even physical assets picked up in the field – and even walls! We make a lot of stuff in doing user research. Are these things potential treasure troves of knowledge for future research? Or are they things that, once used and acted upon, become more complicated to keep than to trash?

A couple of years ago, I spent several months researching how the GDS user research team and their colleagues felt about the stuff they made during user research. Off the back of that research, we ran a pilot for an A/V library. Then I wrote a blog post about the research results. Since then, I’ve had many conversations with organisations around the world trying to answer the same question: can we make our research assets useful in the long term?

In this talk, I’ll share what I learned at GDS, and what I’ve learned in talking to industry since. It’ll be an open-ended talk, but, I hope, a good starting point for cross-industry knowledge sharing and debate.

About Kate

Kate is a freelance strategist, researcher and delivery lead currently based in the UK. She spent recent years researching user researchers – it’s meta! – designing and delivering user research infrastructure for GDS, and doing user research on internal tools for various organisations including the BBC.

Kate’s been working on digital experiences since 2004, and has worked with all types of organisations in South Africa, India and the UK. She’s currently doing user research and strategy in the pharmaceutical sector, and wordsmith kind of stuff on various book projects.