ReFramer – Making Research Engaging Again
Every so often I come across a tool or a service that is very helpful to my workflow. Something like an Axure that helps with functional prototypes and documentation, or a service like ClickTale that really helps on the analytics side of things.
The thing about these apps/services is not just that they are super useful within their primary purpose, but they also prove themselves useful in other ways and can be used to accomplish other goals and/or tasks.
Recently I had an opportunity to check out Reframer a great app that is geared towards improving the research process by offering a quantitative way to analyze qualitative data.
Reframer was created by Todd Zaki Warfel, William Hatch, and Matt Ventre as a solution to challenges they were facing while sifting through endless amounts of data from research sessions armed with only excel spreadsheets (who hasn’t faced that challenge).
Reframer provides a great way to organize and evaluate observations from research/testing sessions in a collaborative format to help you make better informed design choices.
It is very easy to get started with Reframer simply create an account and start creating projects based around research or testing sessions. Once you start your session begin entering observations. Observations are the various points of data worth noting during a session (e.g. the test participant had trouble locating the search feature, or something that a participant said or questioned during an interview).
The beauty of Reframer is that all of the data points are stored in the cloud so they are easily searchable and accessible to team members regardless of location. This eases the dread we have all experienced of having to spend countless hours sifting through spread sheets of hundreds of notes from sessions, and if we are honest this aspect of the research process can drain the joy and excitement right out of research even to the point that we can gloss over notes and info looking for those few nuggets of data.
Knowing that data is easily searchable and team members can collaborate within the app to score the notes lifts a burden off the researcher and allows them to comfortably enter data points to their hearts content.
Judgments and Scoring
After (or even during) the observation process team members can go in and begin to score different observations based on their importance/relevance to business goals, and add their thoughts about why they think certain data points are important to these goals.
The scoring algorithm is a 1-5 rating system that measures feasibility with value, so that the scoring results are balanced with things that the team feels are important to execute upon and how feasible those objectives actually are.
It is these types of mechanisms throughout the app that re-invigorate the research process actually allowing you to focus on doing the research while Reframer takes care of some of the more tedious parts. With Reframer you can actually take research deeper with less effort.
Another great feature of this app is that once you have started working through your observations and judgments you can actually start recommending solutions called “Concepts”. As you add these concepts you can also rate their feasibility to communicate the amount of effort it will take to deploy the concept.
This also brings to mind another great use for the app. As a designer I am now equipped to present my design concepts and the data to back up my decisions to stakeholders. Reframer allows me to show all of the data and research that led to the decisions that were made while creating concepts. To put it simply Reframer has my back
Reframer also provides an activity feed that show recent activity so that you can be keep up to date on what is happening over the course of a project, this is especially helpful on longer term applications with multiple team members.
This is a very high level look at the app, there are plenty of other great features and interactions that make the app a great tool, I will leave that exploration up to you.
After playing with Reframer for quite a while, and hearing from Todd and team what they have in the works for the app I can say that this app has the potential to change not only the way we research, but also our approach to analyzing data in general. Reframer really does take some of the tedious steps out of the research and analysis process and allow you to focus on actually doing the research (who would have thought!).
Head over to getreframer.com watch the video and sign up!