A wiki is a collaborative website where anyone with access can contribute content, and modify at will. Perhaps more famous for their educational applications, wikis have also been used by businesses to create simple knowledge management systems, or function as a collaborative software.
Wikis build relational knowledge database systems, capturing the links between isolated pieces of information. Though this results in a non-linear navigation system, wikis are a more accurate method of structuring information than traditional static databases. This organic structure makes for intuitive search.
One of our clients wanted to create a definitive resource for third party video game developers, and they already had the qualitative research data to do so. In fact, they had well over 90 different studies worth of data.
Having performed some of the initial research for the client, we were asked to combine our own findings with the insights from other usability studies, in order to produce a Game Developers Handbook. After discussing the proposed Handbook with the client, it became clear that what they really wanted was to develop a searchable database of best practices, which could serve as a reference point for game developers, and save a lot of headaches.
Our role was to take this vast collection of assorted findings, and consolidate it into a comprehensive, yet comprehensible catalog. This meant reviewing the research data, identifying the best practices, and then re-organizing 90+ individual reports into a useful tool for the developer community.
Due to our familiarity with some of the findings going in, we knew that this wouldnt be a clean job by any means. Creating neat categories from messy data rarely works; insights interact, and are dependant on relationships between variables.
We decided that to structure all of this data, while capturing the inter-relationships, we would need to build a wiki. Approaching the project as a wiki meant using the existing research to note relationships, or affinities, and then come up with headings to describe the major groups of relationships.
Instead of organizing information, we created a custom taxonomy to describe the mountain of data we were working with. This process organically revealed the basic best practices hiding in those 90+ research reports.
We identified eight groups, or types of findings to structure the wiki, and describe the best practices of video game development, as evidenced by previous research. After pouring the existing data into this structure, we cross indexed the contents of each group to map out all of the relationships.
Then we handed the wiki off to the client, so the developers could access the database, and add their own insights where applicable.
The initial insights were valuable to the client, but they would become even more valuable if they had an infrastructure for ongoing learning. We didnt just cut and paste existing research; we laid the foundation for a living resource, and useful tool.
The relationships established in the wiki make finding useful information an intuitive process for developers, providing ongoing benefits for the client.