What does a UX researcher do?
The term UX is becoming a staple in digital industries, as more focus is placed on the study of human interaction with digital products. As more and more businesses start to incorporate UX into their website, the need for a UX Researcher and UX research services is on the increase.
But what does a UX Researcher do? We’ll explore the role, and the types of tasks they would take on.
UX researchers are involved in 2 types of research, quantitative & qualitative.
Quantitative research looks at numbers and stats. In a test setting, this might look like the time taken to complete a task, the percentage of users who successfully complete the task, and the number of issues they experienced.
Quantitative research can give excellent insights when you make comparisons using it, such as with previous designs or competitors’ products.
Qualitative research explores non-numerative data, gathered through interviews, questionnaires, and user tests. It gives more context to the issues that users face; quantitative research outlines “what” users are struggling with, whilst qualitative helps us to understand the “why”.
UX Research methods
UX Designers will be responsible for deciding the types of data they need in order to find solutions for the projects they’re working on.
- Card sorting – test participants are asked to sort topics such as product categories into groups that make the most sense, and give them a label, allowing designers to build more logical navigation on websites
- User Interviews – interviews allow UX researchers to find out more about user needs or gather qualitative data about digital products
- Usability testing – participants are given a series of tasks to complete, and UX researchers can observe the process, including time taken, success rate and any comments made by users
- A/B testing – you can gather qualitative data testing 2 variations of a website or digital product and asking users to give feedback on which they prefer
What is a UX Researcher and what do they do?
A UX Researcher is responsible for many tasks within their role, although they vary slightly from job to job:
- Working with designers and stakeholders to understand business needs and research needs
- Understanding the research required by designers and choosing appropriate methods and types of data collection
- Choosing suitable participants for research studies
- Conducting studies and analysing data through the use of various tools
- Presenting insights both internally to team members, and externally to clients and stakeholders
What skills does a UX Researcher need?
Now you have an understanding of how UX researchers fit into a team, let’s look at some of the skills they need to do their job effectively.
UX & Design Thinking
A core skill required by UX Researchers is UX and Design thinking. It’s a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.
This framework allows UX Researchers to empathise with users by thinking about their wants and needs and understanding the problems they encounter in order to give inclusive solutions.
Mocking up early ideas of digital solutions allows UX teams to understand how a digital product is supposed to work and uncover problems early on in a project before the full design and development takes place.
Prototyping can take many different forms, including sketches, mockups and drafts.
Research & Data Gathering
Once UX designers have decided on the data they need, UX Researchers take responsibility for planning research studies, including meeting with stakeholders, developing strategies, and recruiting participants.
During the data collection stage, UX researchers are responsible for conducting interviews, setting up A/B tests, and managing software to gather remote research such as Hotjar.
Data Analysis & Presenting Research
Once the data has been collected, UX Researchers need to review the data and turn it into useful insights for the UX designers.
This involves analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data, as well as identifying patterns within the data.
Once they fully understand the results of the research, they must present the key points to the rest of the UX team. This involves:
- Creating a concise presentation of results, including personas and journey maps
- Making recommendations to the design team based on data, not guesswork
- Answering further questions from the rest of the team
UX Researcher v.s. UX Designer
In some scenarios, UX designers also take on the role of UX Researchers. However, combining 2 roles into one leaves room for errors and mistakes.
The core role of a UX Researcher is to conduct user research and identify insights based on the needs of real people. UX designers use this research to design a user-friendly product.
There is also a difference in the skillset required for UX Researchers compared to UX Designers.
UX Designers need technical skills to build wireframes, prototype websites and conduct testing, as well as a proficiency in Sketch, Figma and XD.
UX Researchers require a different set of skills, with the main focus on conducting research, data analysis and communication skills.
A user experience agency will be able to assist you when it comes to conducting user research.