What Is UX Research?

UX research includes any method employed to help improve the design of a new or existing product.

Written by Matthew Urwin
Published on Dec. 16, 2021
What Is UX Research?
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Trent Victor | Aug 11, 2022

The goal of UX researchers is to capture the voice of the customer by gathering insights and making adjustments. To better align products with customer interests, teams develop a research process to learn more about their target audiences and what members of those audiences want. With additional feedback, UX researchers can ensure future designs address the needs of customers.

What are UX research methods?

  •  UX research methods depend on context, so UX researchers must consider what techniques best suit their needs on a case-by-case basis.

One-on-one interviews serve as an excellent way to get more in-depth explanations from customers. However, if a team needs a larger sample size, then surveys offer an alternative for reaching more people. 

To refine a product further, teams can also apply usability testing methods and glean valuable information from users. Guerilla testing is a convenient route since users interact with a product in their natural environment for a small reward. It’s difficult to choose between many options, so UX researchers often rely on multiple methods. By supplementing decisions with plenty of data, teams can anticipate user preferences and craft their products accordingly.

What skills are needed for UX research?

  • While experience with topics like user interface design is beneficial, UX researchers should also display a range of soft skills.

The UX research field demands professionals who showcase both analytical and people-first capabilities. It’s a major advantage if a UX researcher understands the principles of user interface design and has experience with research methods. Still, a UX researcher needs to do more than collect and analyze data.  

Flexibility is also crucial for UX researchers to succeed since they often collaborate with various departments. Researchers may need to conduct scrappy UX research to meet the fast-paced deadlines of other teams, so excellent problem-solving skills are essential. With a well-rounded UX research background, professionals can become valuable contributors who know how to adapt on the fly and support the people around them.


What is the difference between a UX designer and a UX researcher?

Although the same person can perform both roles, each position falls under different stages of the design process.

Both UX research and UX design are customer-oriented, but UX research always precedes the actual product design. UX researchers compile data on a target audience, including demographics and possible preferences. As a result, these roles are focused on informing a design with quantitative and qualitative research

Meanwhile, UX designers are the team members who work on the product itself. These positions lean on the insights provided by UX researchers to create products that cater to potential customer needs. While the two fields are similar, UX researchers take a data-heavy approach to give UX designers a clearer product path. In this way, both disciplines complement each other, and neither can exist without the other.  

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