Learn more about the roles, responsibilities, and salary of a UX researcher.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Research is the driving force behind real user experience (UX). UX research is about examining and analyzing, utilizing different methodologies such as surveys, competitive analysis, experimentation, and testing.
User-centered product development at mature customer-centered organizations is driven by multi-method research. Modern businesses collect plenty of analytics and numbers. But all the counting in the world doesn’t tell them everything they need to know to make smart product decisions and that’s where qualitative research comes into play.
Instead of relying solely on metrics or narratives, they know the best UX decisions are made when they’ve done their due diligence to appeal to both sides of the equation. But again, qualitative research only tells part of the user story. So holistic research brings them statistically significant UX numbers, plus compelling stories, all describing what customers actually do, need, and want, so decision-makers are in the best possible position to proceed accordingly. This is why mature companies employ all kinds of UX researchers.
To begin, there are essentially three types of UX researchers: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. All of these roles share the overarching goal of informing product and design decisions through various types of user research.
UX researchers empower leaders in the organization with the insights and recommendations they need to make more informed business and product decisions. They also:
UX researchers also lead studies from end-to-end, each of which may include one or more of the following methodologies:
Qualitative researchers are especially great rapport builders and storytellers. They shine at making participants feel comfortable and effectively eliciting their knowledge, perspectives, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs.
Quantitative researchers excel at working with numbers, leveraging them to help explain behavior and perceptions and to uncover new opportunities to understand and accommodate users. They must be very good at descriptive and inferential statistics.
A successful mixed-methods researcher has mastered both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. They are often more senior because of this, with advanced educational degrees and at least 5 - 10 years of direct experience, which places them at a higher salary band than most UX researchers. As individual contributors, they often serve as the senior-most researchers on the team, and regularly end up in management if they choose that route.
The hard skills required of UX researchers are very similar to those of Human Factors (HF) practitioners. Junior researchers will know a few of these technologies, while expert researchers will be experts of most or all of them.
A number of factors impact the salary of a UX researcher— such as location, company size, industry, compensation packages, and actual job title. These numbers are merely averages compiled from Glassdoor as of September 2020.
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This post was written by Rylan Clark, the COO of The UXology Group, a leading UX Research firm. Rylan is also a Springboard mentor and UX subject matter expert.
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