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If you’ve ever had the good fortune to have a nice, hot cup of tea or coffee, you’ve likely enjoyed the hard work of UX Researchers. While it might sound enticing to get behind this desk and start drawing up designs for an elegant new product, there are various things that you need to know first. 

The guide aims to help people considering user research as a career as well as current professionals looking to expand their knowledge base.

Let’s get started with the basics.

What Is User Research?

User research is about designing user experiences that are both informative and engaging. It is the process of analysing data, information, or tasks to identify pain points or opportunities for improvement. With many people becoming more interested in how technology affects our daily lives, the field of UX design has become immensely popular through online courses and textbooks. 

Who Is A UX Researcher?

A User experience researcher plans and conducts research activities to uncover insights on how to make products better. As you begin your journey, it’s helpful to know what you can expect. Here are some of the typical responsibilities of a UX researcher:

Brainstorming ⇨ Interview ⇨ Guide Development ⇨ Design ⇨ Research ⇨ Prototyping ⇨ User Testing

As you conduct research, you will perform some of these tasks daily. A career in this field would be ideal for those who like solving problems and thinking creatively. To succeed in this field, you also need strong interpersonal skills and the ability to experiment independently with new ideas.

Responsibilities Of A UX Researcher

UX researchers are responsible for a variety of tasks, including: 

  1. Understanding research needs by working with designers and stakeholders.
  2. Defining research questions and choosing appropriate data collection methods.
  3. Designing and conducting usability testing, collecting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data, and documenting research outcomes in a clear, concise way.
  4. Developing a clear understanding of a product’s strengths and weaknesses from a usability perspective, and documenting actionable recommendations.
  5. Producing a final report that compellingly summarises the study results, provides recommendations for improving the product and is actionable for design and development teams.
  6. Delivering results to stakeholders in a manner that is consistent with the company’s UX style guide.

Types Of Research

 In UX research, you typically deal with two kinds of research, quantitative and qualitative. Let’s briefly review each type and when it might be helpful.

Quantitative research

This type of research is the most common one. It involves collecting data from users on how they use websites. The goal is to analyse the information, identify problems, and make adjustments to your website or product. This type of research can be done by using applications or web pages on your device or a computer equipped with sensors. A typical example of this kind of research is usability testing. It involves observing how users interact with a website, app, or device to determine what areas need improvement. Surveys are also one example of quantitative research that you may be asked to perform.

Skills Required to Become a UX Researcher

The following skills are required for UX Researcher jobs.

1. Hard Skills: UX Researchers need to possess the following hard skills:

  • User testing
  • Data analysis
  • Design skills
  • Wireframing/Prototyping
  • Critical thinking
  • User research skills
  • Focus on a niche industry or product 

2. Soft Skills: 

  • Communication Skills
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Empathy
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration

3. Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology or Human Factors is recommended

How To Become A UX Researcher: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Obtain a UX research degree: The first step is to obtain the educational background needed to become a UX researcher. It is necessary to gain training in research methods through university degree programs, certificate programs, or by taking short courses.
  2. Gain Hands-On Experience: Sometimes, those with degrees in UX research may lack experience since they will often be assigned jobs that don’t match their degrees. Taking on research projects for other organisations would provide research experience, so it is no harm to seek it out.
  3. Start After graduation: If you are to work for a company full of seasoned professionals, you should consider gaining experience in UX research after graduating. As a result, your career will move forward and advance as you gain expertise and knowledge.
  4. Get a UX Researcher Job: After gaining the necessary experience and knowledge, search for a UX researcher position. To do this, you can apply directly to a company or check job boards like Indeed and Monster.com.

UX Research Methods

User Experience (UX) research is a comprehensive and robust process. This method involves analysing how users interact with your product, service, or content to identify what can be improved. UX research includes the following techniques:

  1. Card sorting: This is a cognitive exercise that asks participants to organise topics, products, features, etc., into groups (or categories) based on how they think the items are related. It is one of the first steps used in a usability test to help define users’ mental models before developing products, interfaces, or content.
  2. Usability testing: This method is essential in understanding user segments. Additionally, usability testing is undertaken to validate whether users can locate existing information (functional testing) and if they can easily accomplish their goals using your design (usability testing). Typically, users test products using tasks that reflect how they would use the product daily. Usability tests require careful observation because users may do something unexpected, but explain why they did so. The goal of this is to validate that they understand how to utilise your design correctly. 
  3.  Eye-tracking: A camera tracks the user’s eye movement as they navigate your website or app. You can gain insights into what causes them to stop, become confused, etc., and use that information to improve their experience.
  4. Flowcharting: Users are presented with a timeline that outlines all possible paths through your interface, and they are instructed to pick the one that makes the most sense to them as they progress through it.
  5. A/B Testing: A/B Testing compares the behaviour of users in one group against a different group where nothing is changed. If, for instance, you wish to change the font size on your checkout page, you can show one group of users where the change has been made and another group where everything remains the same. The data collected through tracking user behaviour allows you to determine how seriously they react (for example, by observing mouse clicks) to the change.
  6. Surveys and questionnaires: This method is generally used for quantitative data collection, such as understanding user demographics, current behaviours and common problems. Surveys and questionnaires are among the most readily available tools that UX researchers can apply to collect data about user behaviour and opinions about product development.
  7. User interviews: User interviews help understand users’ needs and behaviours, and they help team members and designers step back from their assumptions and imaginations to understand the product better. 
  8. Diary studies: User diaries, also known as the experience sampling method, can be a powerful way to examine a user’s ongoing life experiences, day-to-day experiences and challenges. It is one of the few ways to gain insight into an experience that does not take place in a UX research setting. In this case, the research participant will record his thoughts and feelings just as they surface, instead of retrospectively.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of buzz around UX researchers these days as a growing profession poised for global success. It may sound intimidating to those that don’t know what to expect, but you don’t have to worry! We’re here to let you in on everything you need to know about becoming a UX researcher and living your dream life as a professional hybrid psychologist/computer scientist. This article talks about the definition of UX research and some typical methods that UX researchers use. This article also includes some points for people who want to become a UX researcher, such as the skills and knowledge needed, tips on getting started, and building up their expertise. If you desire to pursue this career or explore the tech world, we just may have a spot for you on the team. For more information, please visit our careers page!

Amaka Odozi

Author Amaka Odozi

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