Repositive is a social enterprise, building tools to facilitate ethical and efficient genomic data sharing for research. It was spun out of DNAdigest in late 2014. Today we interview Jana Grajciarova, a UX/UI developer of Repositive and find out how user experience studies affect how Repositive is shaping its data discovery and data sharing platform.

1. What is your background? Where did you study and work before?

Before I came to UK I studied wooden products and structures at the Technical University of Zvolen in Slovakia. Basically, I learned how to design wooden houses. I find the skills that I learnt there useful for my current web developer’s work when I am doing drawings, sketches, and wireframes.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be impossible to find a decent job just with these skills, so I decided to study further. I went to study graphic design at Bedford college. After that I did an internship for a digital marketing company in Bedford. I found that marketing was nothing for me (cultural differences?) but I was fascinated by programming i.e. how you can tell a computer what to do. So, I educated myself in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and found a job in London. There are plenty of crazy ideas buzzing around in London, so I was carried away by the Techcity activities. I participated in different hackathons where I could apply and expand my skills and that is where I met Fiona from DNAdigest. That’s how I learnt about the difficulties that the genomics community is experiencing and decided to keep contributing to DNAdigest. And when they spun out Repositive I joined them as a UX/UI developer in January 2015.

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2. What are your interests?

I am quite a curious person so I am generally interested in technology and how things work. I enjoy running long distances, and going out hiking in the nature and gardening. Trying to keep balance between digital world and the ‘real’ world.

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3. What is Repositive and what is your role there?

Repositive is a free online platform where anyone interested in human genomic data can see what datasets are available in public repositories. It’s a place where people can search for genomic data and register their data if they want it to be reused. They can also request data from the community and start collaborations.

It’s important to notice that we are not storing any data. We are just listing the data and providing the the discovery service. My role within Repositive is UX developer.

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4. What does UX mean and why it is important?

UX stands for User eXperience. User experience is important for all online and offline customer portals and interfaces. In essence, it is the study of how users interact with an interface and through improving features, methods, visuals and communications allows a developer to create an interface which acquires consistently good user retention. UX development is a constantly evolving entity and moves with shifts in user demographics and perceptions and new platform features.

In practical terms, most of my time is dedicated to actual interface development but a portion of my time is spent on communicating with users about the way they use the platform.

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5. What influences the development of the Repositive platform?

We have a few researchers in our team who provide the development team insights into their experiences in searching for genomic data. We have done lots of contextual research to map down the workflow of accessing data. We are trying to understand the user’s workflow and interactions in order to provide most relevant information and therefore speed up the whole data discovery process. This research also helps us find the pain points that users have.

It looks like for genomics researchers, the most difficult part is to find data that they really need. Most repositories have somewhat confusing interfaces and often have too much or too little information displayed. Very often there is no detailed annotation so it is difficult if you are looking for a very specific thing. For some repositories, you do not even know where to start the search! We aim to provide sufficient information about datasets before a user proceeds to download the file (which in many case can be several Gb).

Because Repositive is in beta testing right now, early user feedback is the key in the UX development process. At present we do this by inviting users to sign up for beta testing on our website. After they explored the platform, we contact them with a few questions addressing their experiences. Beta testers provide us with valuable feedback on the current features and platform structure. They also provide comments on what other features would benefit them or that they would like to see.

If you want to try out our new platform and give us feedback you can sign up on our website.


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