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The Frog Explains: What Is a UX Researcher & What Do They Do?

Nowadays, along with the UX designer, more highly specialized positions have appeared. Among them is the UX researcher. Our Clairvoyant Frog will talk about the features of this position below.

 

Silence! The Frog Сroaks: Who Is UX Researcher?

 

Illustration by Tony Babel

 

A UX researcher is a specialist who performs analytical work creating new or optimizing existing software solutions. In particular, these specialists are responsible for analyzing the target audience of the product and identifying their true needs through qualitative and quantitative research.
 

In fact, UX researcher conduct the procedure of testing the product and its individual features (or expectations for a future product and its features) on real users.
 

Note that many aspiring UX researchers can focus on only one of the responsibilities of this specialty – analytics and research. Nevertheless, as practice shows, it is no less important here to understand how to build competent communication with the project team and with the focus group participants. This way, UX researchers can narrow their searches to things that are truly business-critical and plan their research rationally.

 

The Frog Deals With Flies. And What Does the UX Researcher Deal With?

Most often, UX researcher uses two software tools in their work - Figma (for building prototypes) and Flow Chart (for drawing user behavior on these prototypes). Both of these solutions can be integrated with each other, thus providing a smooth transition from UX design to UX research.
 

Thus, the main part of the tasks of a UX researcher is devoted to working with prototypes and drawing up scenarios with their help. You can learn more about work with Figma here and Flow Chart here.

 

The Frog Is on the Lake From Day to Day. What Can She Say About the UX Researcher Routine?

In general, the UX researcher's job is to help a business make or save money by testing hypotheses about a product or feature. For this, day after day, the UX researcher performs the following tasks:

 

  • prepare for the upcoming research (describe goals and methods, develop scenarios, make requirements for focus group participants, recruit new participants);
  • perform customer experience research (in face-to-face focus groups, in-depth interviews, in observation sessions, in customer journey maps);
  • analyze the results of the research (analysis of use cases, drawing up accurate portraits of the client and recommendations for optimizing the product, reviewing the resulting analysis together with the project team).
     

As for the methods of conducting the UX research, they are well illustrated here:

 

 

The Frog Must Be Able to Catch Flies. So What About the UX Researcher?

In general, the key skill of a good UX researcher is understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each research method and the ability to choose the ones that are most correct according to the set business goals, deadlines, and budget requirements.

 

But formally, when you apply for a job as the UX researcher, these hard and soft skills may be required of you.
 

Hard skills

Illustration by Núria Madrid

 

  • ability to conduct qualitative, quantitative, and complex testing
  • ability to perform product marketing
  • ability to process and organize marketing data
  • maintenance of design, user, and technical documentation
  • understanding the basics of design and prototyping
  • testing and maintenance of a software product
  • A/B testing
  • preparation of technical specifications
  • market analysis
  • knowledge of digital design trends
  • knowledge of methods of statistical research
  • understanding the relationship between GUI and UX
  • understanding the concepts of iterations, metrics, conversions, funnels, KPIs, Roadmap, MVP, etc.
  • understanding usability
  • understanding the process of maintaining and supporting digital products
  • knowledge of the technical aspects of developing digital products for users
     

Soft skills

Illustration by Jeremiah Shaw

 

  • customer focus
  • well-established professional communication
  • time management
  • independence and adaptability to work in a team
  • multitasking
  • attention to detail
  • responsibility
  • constant self-development

 

As for extra skills and talents, surely, the UX researcher must think rationally and critically in order to be able to choose the most cost-effective options for implementing the user experience.

We Know the Difference Between Frogs and Toads. And What About the Difference Between a UX Researcher and a UX Designer?

While UX designers are directly involved in the development of prototypes for interfaces and sometimes alpha testing, the main task of UX researchers is to analyze everything that has been created on focus groups of real users.
 

In particular, they create scripts and select methods for beta testing. After the results of the analysis are collected, they are brought up for discussion with the project team for further optimization (and here the UX researcher plays a key role again).
 

You can see more differences in the responsibilities of the UX designer and the UX researcher in the infographic below.

 

 

The Frog Eats More Than 2,000 Flies Per Year. So What About the UX Researcher?

The niche of UX research specialists is still fairly new, and in the US, Australia, Canada, and Western Europe, the average salary for this specialization is around $ 85,000-90,000. At the same time, the lucky ones who managed to take a vacancy related to UX research have the opportunity to receive new, non-standard tasks every day, communicate with new people and, in general, have a work routine that differs from Groundhog's day. At the same time, in view of the novelty of this specialty, the career ladder for such specialists is not yet clear.
 

As for more real numbers:

 

  • a junior specialist with six months of experience earns from 27,000 US dollars a year;
  • a middle specialist with work experience of 1 year or more makes between $46,900 and $72,000 US dollars per year;
  • a senior specialist with at least 2 years of experience earns from $139,000 per year.

 

To Become the Frog, You’ve to Be Born the Frog. So How to Become the UX Researcher?

Now our Clairvoyant Frog will share with you her secret knowledge about where you can learn the skills of the UX researcher.
 

As for the courses that you can take remotely, in the top of the Frog are those that are uploaded to the authoritative educational platform Coursera. When it comes to self-study, you will need to learn how to conduct qualitative and quantitative tests, as well as understand the interaction of prototyping tools with user flow chart tools.

 

Other Roles in UI/UX

Remember that UX research is just one aspect of UI/UX design professional niche. If you’re interested in this field, you can take into account some other positions:

 

  • UX designers, who are responsible for creating controls and visualizations for user-friendly software solutions that solve specific user problems quickly and efficiently;
  • information architects who organize and manage the data that a specific software solution operates in order to make it as understandable and accessible for the end user;
  • UX engineers who build a real software solution based on prototypes (they also are called UX developers);
  • interaction designers who optimize the experience that arises from the interaction of a user and a software solution (this is either a separate specialization or one of the responsibilities of a UX/UI designer).
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