The following is a guest post by Cherryl Pereira, Head of Content at Chisel Labs
User experience is basically what the users of the product think about it and how they like or don’t like it.
Product usability should be in alignment with the user’s expectations.
Hence, to design a product that satisfies all these conditions, a designer needs something to study upon, analyze upon, and develop the product accordingly.
That’s where the job of UX researcher comes in.
While there are many similarities in the work, UX designers and UX researchers have some important differences.
In this blog, we will look at what these differences are and when you might want to use one over the other when designing your product or service.
What Does It Take To Be a UX Researcher?
Overview of UX Research Methods
What Does It Take To Be a UX Designer?
Overview of UX Design Methods
Conclusion: Are They Different?
A UX researcher’s role is to study the user’s needs, expectations, and so on. Thus, they analyze the data to provide the UX designer with relevant information. UX researcher backs a good UX design with customer insights and real knowledge.
To make it simpler, let’s have a look at what are the tasks and responsibilities of a UX researcher:
- Understanding the research needs by working together with designers and stakeholders.
- Research by studying how people function with the product and what their needs are.
- Analyzing data to present it to the designers.
- Developing budgets and timelines according to delivery as expected by the user.
- Performing various types of analytics to develop a comprehensible presentation for the designer that does not outweigh the simplicity of user requirements at the same time.
What does it take to be a UX researcher?
Having understood the role of a UX researcher, let’s jump into what are the skills and tools a successful UX researcher possesses.
- Effective communication: Communication is far beyond just verbal talks. Understanding the image that the speaker wants to portray in the listener’s mind and vice versa is the proper definition of communication skill. When it comes to UX designing, a researcher’s role is crucial to effectively convey the user’s demands to the UX designer. Hence, it is important to have effective communication skills.
- Patience and simplicity: Not every user has the technical knowledge of product designing. So, there should be skills of understanding and patience in a UX designer to understand on true levels of what a user demands from the product.
- Problem-solving: Problem-solving is an important skill being in the role of a UX researcher because the answers will be according to what questions are being asked to the user. The skill of right questioning is possible only if the problem is evaluated right. Hence, the researcher should have a clear concept about how to perform this task.
- Creativity and innovation: Being curious and creative means you allow the user to impactfully convey what’s in their head. This allows the researcher to understand the user needs and pain points faster. This helps the researcher to keep the designer on the same loop to understand design requirements.
- Teamwork: Collaboration is a daily task of a researcher be it with product managers, stakeholders, users, or designers, and the better a researcher is at it, the best results will blossom accordingly.
Overview of UX research methods
The UX research methods that are most widely opted include:
- Market research & Customer Surveys: These types of research are conducted to find out the user demographics and what they think about the product.
- Feedback of products: The only way to improve, validate, and be future-ready for your product is feedback.
- Usability Testing: It helps to find out if users can use your product easily, intuitively, and comfortably or not. This may help you know what needs improvement for which context or how it can be made more user-friendly.
- Contextual inquiry: Based on real-world situations, this method involves understanding how people use products.
- Final user interface testing: This is done to see if the final product meets user expectations and provide insights on how it can be improved.
Having all the information about what needs to be done, what a user is expecting, and what suits the best for the profit of an organization, the UX designer’s role serves as, “Implement it all!”
UX Designer’s role is to make the product usable and enjoyable by matching the basic expectations of the user. This contributes towards a positive user experience.
Let’s add some more light to the role of a UX designer by studying their tasks and responsibilities.
- Understanding the problem well is what takes as a foremost responsibility of a UX designer. Once the researcher conveys all the information, if the designer fails to understand it correctly, it can negatively lead to backtracking a UX designer. This will ultimately make the conditions negative for the user experience and lead to an overall loss of the brand’s product.
- A UX designer also needs to be skilled in various aspects of designing. They should have the ability to create wireframes and mockups for better understanding. It would not be wrong if we say that a UX designer is responsible for creating the fundamental basis of any platform or application by making them functional enough and implementing every document in reality.
- UX designer also creates user personas based on the results offered by UX researchers. The user persona is a unique individual who uses the product or platform. Based on their requirements, UX designers make changes to design.
- UX Designer also needs to be interactive with users as they have multiple tasks related to this aspect. They should have enough knowledge about what type of content would interest them for better engagement levels.
- UX designers use a wide range of tools through the product development journey where user flows and wireframes are amongst the top ones. These tools are used for creating user flow diagrams and sitemaps.
- UX designers create wireframes, prototypes, mockups, and visual designs which help in better understanding of the product to everyone involved or interested in it.
What does it take to be a UX designer?
Now having the idea of what are roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, let us offer you a glimpse of the skills which a successful UX designer possesses.
- Adaptability is one of the major soft skills a UX designer must possess because of the ever-changing nature of the technology and product industry.
- Creativity is a must because UX designers are expected to come up with creative solutions for different problems which they face during their project journey.
- Collaboration goes hand in hand with empathy because it is the ability of a UX designer to understand and collaborate with other team members which makes his work more productive. And a successful UX designer hence has equal expertise in both of these qualities.
- Teamwork is another mandatory skill for a UX designer because the development process – right from understanding the roadmap to implementing it – requires to make a positive user-friendly product takes a lot to work great in a team.
Overview of UX design methods
The fundamental importance of UX designing is the improvement of a positive user experience. This includes UI, research, and the methods:
- Information architecture: The business requirement analysis is helpful for this part. This interaction involves the basics like types of features and elements.
- Interaction design: This is the actual design work for the user interface along with animations and all other components of the website or application.
- Card sorting: This technique is used to find out what a user thinks about your navigation and how they categorize the content. This is a kind of data gathering technique for an information architecture from users’ perspective using cards, articles, or pictures with labels on them which need to be sorted by participants into categories that make sense in their own words.
- Usability: The user should be able to use all the features of the website or application without any errors. It is done through usability testing, feedback collection, and evaluation by expert evaluators who have experience in this field.
- Wireframes: These are basically the samples of application. They are not the functional versions of it. It is a rough and quick sketch of how an interface, application, or website will function which can be tested through focus group sessions before building fully-fledged prototypes.
Conclusion: Are they different?
Yes, they are different.
They are two different roles with different responsibilities.
A UX researcher is concerned about the user’s experience rather than just aesthetics, and a UX designer should have some knowledge of research methods to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.
But as discussed in this blog, collaboration is the necessity for both if the product expectations are to be successful.
None of the two can work best without the other’s contribution.
By understanding the difference and their work together, it can make a better product experience for customers.
Both UX designers and UX researchers are important for product developing tasks.
To sum up, yes, they are different but collaborative efforts between them will lead to successful product development.
Cherryl Pereira is the Head of Content at Chisel. Chisel Labs is a premiere agile product management software company that brings together roadmapping, team alignment, and customer connection.