In order to develop products that meet user needs and delight users, As a UX researcher, first, you need to understand who your user and what their needs are. that is where user experience research (UX), comes in.
UX researchers study the target user to gather and analyze data that can be used in product design. This guide will provide a detailed look at UX research, its methods, and the steps you can take in order to get started or advance in this highly-demanded field.
What is UX research?
The first step in achieving this goal is designing a new product, or improving the user experience with an existing product is possible. Start thinking about your users. What are their characteristics? Where are they from What are they looking for? What are they looking for? What can you do to help them achieve what they desire?
These are the questions you must answer as a UX researcher. Instead of guessing based on your subjective experience, you will create a research strategy to enable you to answer these questions data-driven. Your users become advocates for you, which gives them the opportunity to have a say in product development.
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Different types of research
You generally do two types of research as a UX researcher: qualitative and quantitative. Let’s take a look at each (and how it might be helpful).
- Quantitative Research is based on statistics and numbers. This could be used to measure the time it takes for a user to complete a task. It might also include determining how successful a percentage of users were in completing the task. These numbers are most useful when they can be compared to a previous design or to a competitor’s product.
- Qualitative Research focuses on non-numerical insights such as how users feel while using a product or why they have trouble completing tasks. Qualitative research is the opposite of quantitative research. It gives us the “what” and qualitative research the “why.”
A distinction is also made between different types of research, such as behavioral and attitudinal.
- Behavioral Research Methods examine the actions of users. What page do they click on? Which navigational route do they use to navigate through an app?
- Attitudinal Research examines a user’s feelings, attitudes, and reactions to an experience.
Methodologies for UX research
As a UX designer, one of your responsibilities will be to determine which research method is best for answering what questions. You have many options in the UX research toolbox to help you get information from users.
- Card sorting: Study participants arrange topics into the most meaningful groups and assign labels to these groups. This information can be used to create websites and apps that are intuitive and easier to navigate.
- Usability Testing: Participants attempt to complete a task using a product, while you watch. This allows you to measure the success of users in completing tasks, their speed, problems encountered, and how satisfied they feel with the experience.
- A/B Testing: This allows you to compare two products against each other in order to determine which version is most popular with your target audience. You can do this with live products by showing different versions to different visitors or sending different versions to different recipients.
- Interviews with users: Face-to-face interviews (online or in person), offer an easy and quick way to find out what a user needs from a product or to collect qualitative data about an existing product. Focus groups are often used to describe interviews that were conducted with more than one person.
- Questionnaires and surveys: A survey or questionnaire can be designed to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. You can track product improvement throughout its lifecycle by using the same questions and multiple surveys.
- Diary studies: Target users keep track of their daily activities over a set (often extended) time period. This allows you to gain insight into real-world behaviors and experiences. This could help you determine when a user engages with your product most often, and how often they use it throughout the week, month, or day.
- Contextual observation: You’ll be observing users in their natural environment, at home or at work, and asking questions to gain a better understanding of how and why they do the things they do.
- First Click Testing: This form of user testing examines the first thing a target user clicks when they attempt to complete a task on a website interface or app interface. A first-click test can be done on a prototype, live website, or wireframe.
What does a UX researcher do?
We now have a better understanding of user experience research. Let’s take a closer look into what you might do as a UX researcher in a day-to-day role. You should also consider what tools and skills you may need to complete the job.
Responsibilities and tasks
The workday of a UX researcher is likely to vary depending on the project or company. These are just a few of your possible tasks.
- Collaboration with stakeholders and designers to understand research needs
- Determining research questions and choosing the appropriate data collection methods
- Research project budgeting and timelines
- Recruitment of participants for research studies
- Design research and analysis of the data
- Converting your findings into easily understood insights
- Presenting your findings to developers and other stakeholders
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Essential skills and tools
UX researchers who are successful often have a variety of skills that allow them to gain insights into users and potential users. These are some of the skills that you can focus on if you are interested in a career as a UX researcher.
- Communication skills: A lot of the job requires you to communicate with researchers and work with them to answer their questions.
- Empathy: Understanding the expectations, frustrations, and goals of a user can help you to develop solutions that meet their real needs.
- Design Thinking: Every stage of the design process–empathize. Define. Ideate. Prototype. and Test–offers chances to learn more about our users.
- Problem-solving: Asking the right questions can help you choose the best method.
- Curiosity: You can be curious and ask intelligent questions to uncover meaningful insights.
- Collaboration: You’ll often work with developers, designers, product managers, and other stakeholders in order to bring the best product to market.
Other roles in UI/UX
Research is only one aspect of UI/UX design. There are many other jobs available if you are interested in this field.
- UX designers ensure that products are usable, practical, and enjoyable.
- UI Designer design the visual elements of electronic and computer interfaces.
- Information architects manage and organize information to make it accessible, understandable, and intuitive.
- UX designers, also known as developers, convert designs into code.
Interaction designers are concerned with the interaction between a user and a product. This role can be independent or part of a UX/UI Designer’s job.
Why pursue a career as a UX researcher?
A career in UX research is a great fit for someone who is naturally curious and enjoys working in a team. This is a highly-demanded job in a high-paying field.
UX researcher salary
According to the Onward Search Salary Guide 2020, more than half of UX researchers earn $88,600 or higher. According to reports, three-quarters of UX experts earn more than $79,000.
According to Onward Search, user researchers are among the most sought-after digital creative professionals in 2020. CNNMoney’s 100 Best Jobs in America predicted 19% job growth between 2017 and 2027.
How to become a UX researcher
UX research is a new field, just like other areas of UI/UX design. You’ll discover that there are many paths to UX research. UX researchers can learn by themselves, while others may have to transfer from other jobs. These tips will help you to find your career path.
1. Get a degree in technology or behavioral science
UX researchers typically require at least a bachelor’s level of education. However, it does not necessarily need to be in a UX-related field. It could be advantageous to earn your degree in technology, behavioral and social sciences. If you are interested in a career as a UX designer, here are some majors:
- Interaction between humans and computer
- Statistics or applied statistics
- Computer science
- Information systems
It may seem that there is a lot of them. User researchers can come from many backgrounds. Many people may not have discovered UX until after they graduate from college. Don’t panic if you have a degree in a different field. There are many other ways you can learn UX skills.
2. Develop your user research skills
You’ll not only get a degree but you will also learn many ways to use the tools and techniques of user search while gaining industry skills. These are some ways to build your skills, depending on your learning style.
- Take the Google UX Design Professional Certificate online. From beginning to end, you’ll be guided through the design process. User research is a full module in the program.
- You can practice making an A/B test on a web page, analyzing UX survey data, or communicating research findings using empathy maps. Each project takes less than two hours.
- To learn the language of the industry and keep up to date with the latest trends, take advantage of free resources such as podcasts and blogs.
- You can also enroll in other courses and UX boot camps. UX certificates and specializations are also offered by some universities for those who do not want to pursue a degree.
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3. Get UX research experience
Find UX researcher jobs on our job boards Sometimes, you will see work experience that is related to the job as a requirement. You don’t need to wait to get a job before you can start to gain hands-on experience.
- Your UX research skills can be donated to a local non-profit or small business. You can find suitable opportunities with organizations like UX Rescue and Catchafire.
- Many companies such as Google, Meta, and Adobe offer UX internships. Some of these may also include a research component. An internship application is similar to applying for a job. The application process usually involves an interview. You can find opportunities on LinkedIn and Twitter. Keep an eye out for openings on the site of a company that you are interested in interning for.
- Hackathon teams are available. Join these fast-paced and competitive software development events to put your UX research skills into practice. This is a great way for UX professionals to meet and collaborate on projects that will benefit your portfolio. You can search hackathon.io and the Hackathon hackers Facebook group for information about upcoming events in your area.
4. Build your portfolio
Portfolios are a way to show potential employers your skills and experience. It is a crucial part of your application. Keep track of what you do, whether it is volunteering, taking classes, or completing projects. Include your most recent projects in the portfolio.
Your portfolio can be hosted on your website (services such as Squarespace and Wix are popular), or you can use LinkedIn, GitHub, or a GitHub repository to showcase your best work.
You can brush up your skills and add to your portfolio by taking the Using Google Forms for Analyzing User Research Data guided project from the Coursera Project Network. You can create surveys, gather results, and present insights in under an hour.
5. Grow your network
You can start to build a network of people working in the UX industry. These could be coworkers from your current job, UX research organizations, or online UX communities. It is a great way to meet potential employers and learn about new opportunities.