A UX (user experience) researcher systematically gathers information about how individuals use technology so they can provide data to design teams aiming to create the most accessible product for their audience.
User Experience Researcher, Applied Researcher, Market Research Analysts, Research Manager, Research Analyst, Customer Experience Researcher, CX Researcher
“I get to spend most of my time doing what I love—learning about people and solving problems! I’ve been able to travel the world and learn about so many different things” - Georgie Bottomley, Senior UX Researcher, Atlassian
"If I’m running research, I am out and about meeting people, typically at their place of work to learn about what they do. If I’ve done my field research, I’m back in the office sorting through the information, trying to understand patterns of behaviour and what we learned. I also spend a lot of my time talking to people across the company, sharing what we know to help them make decisions.” - Georgie Bottomley, Senior UX Researcher, Atlassian
- Research Planning and Recruitment
- Develop a well-crafted research plan with clear research objectives.
- Write usability research screeners and discussion guides.
- Recruit targeted end-users for specific research studies.
- Data Collection
- Moderate one-on-one basic usability sessions.
- Help develop and implement quantitative surveys.
- Conduct stakeholder and client interviews.
- Data Analysis
- Extract insights about user behaviors from web instrumentation tools.
- Translate user insights into actionable recommendations for the product team.
- Presentation of Insights
- Craft personas and other “information radiators” (e.g. journey maps) to communicate insights across the design and development teams.
- Present design research findings to the larger team in a clear and organized fashion.
- Work closely with the product team to identify research objectives.
- Establish and implement an overall research strategy.
These are just a handful of tasks that belong to UX research. Ultimately, your job as a UX researcher is to build up a picture of your target users based on their needs, wants, motivations, and pain-points. These insights enable the wider design team to create user-friendly products based on real user feedback—not just your assumptions.
As with most UX design roles, the UX researcher means different things to different companies. To learn more about what might be expected of you as a UX researcher, browse various job sites and see how different companies advertise and describe the role.
Credit: "What Does A UX Researcher Actually Do? The Ultimate Career Guide" Raven L. Veal, PhD, The Career Foundry
- Complex Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
- Systems Analysis and Evaluation
- Judgment and Decision Making
- Knowledge about Analytical or Scientific Software
- Information Ordering
- Technological Prowess
- Communication Skills
- Computing Mathematics
- Ingenuity and Logical Thinking
- Understanding of Human Behavior
- Working with Large Data Collections
Projected 10-year job growth from 2016 is 19%.
- Technology Companies
- Namely dedicated tech companies like Facebook or Google
- To some degree, any company’s tech division helping with apps, websites or digital presences
- Industries can include advertising, finance, education, retail, healthcare, media, hospitality, telecommunications and nonprofit
- An increase in companies looking for the benefits of UX research but not having enough teams to meet demand
- Large growth areas in general
- Because research leans heavily into user experience with technology, the rapid growth and evolution of technology effects the industry — A perpetual adjustment
- UX Research and Design is becoming more ubiquitous as companies focus on appealing to users in a sea of options, so UX professionals are spending more time coordinating teams in larger, established businesses
- Telling stories
- Reading people’s stories
- Learning about different people’s lives and work
- Playing with and analyzing technology
- Typically a bachelor’s degree in market research or related paths, but some market research analyst jobs can require a master’s degree — especially for leadership positions
- Training in human-related fields such as psychology or sociology, or in general design, can also be helpful
- Take classes in computer, human or design-related fields
- Use new technologies and resources as they come out
- Go further than just using them—analyze how the technology is being used or how it could be better
- See if there are competitors for the same product to compare what works and what doesn’t
- Shadow current UX Researchers to apply their lessons to upcoming work
- Learn the key foundations skills - See recommended resources
- Attend conferences and meetups
- Find an apprenticeship or internship or a more senior researcher who is willing to let you shadow them.
“I worked really hard, spent a lot of time learning about the industry and attended events and meetups to learn what was going on. I met a recruiter who was able to land me an entry level position, but having the passion and knowledge about a sector I was interested in meant the employer knew I would work hard and was willing to learn.” - Georgie Bottomley, Senior UX Researcher, Atlassian
- Start moderating UX sessions right away, even if you aren’t an expert
- Shadow working UX Researchers, sit in on their sessions and take notes
- A User Experience Team of One, by Leah Buley
- A Field Guide to User Research, by Smashing Magazine
- Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guide t User Research Methods, by Kathy Baxter, Catherine Courage and Kelly Caine
- Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research, by Jeff Sauro and James lewis
Any company with a tech division focused on developing applications, websites or a general digital presence can utilize a UX researcher, leaving alternative careers open in a growing technological world.