Industries often use the term ‘user experience’ during product designing. They want to know individual perceptions, behaviour, and physical and psychological responses of the users during and after using their products and services. This is nothing but the user experience they wish to know. User experience matters when designing and optimising a product. A user experience researcher observes, analyses, and assesses the user behaviour from all the aspects. Thus, user experience research is required not only before designing a product but throughout its execution. It is an ongoing process. In this blog post, we will detail every single detail of user experience research and the skills needed for user experience researcher jobs and how to become a user experience researcher. 

What is a User Experience Researcher?

UX research can be applied at any stage of the design process. A UX researcher performs both qualitative as well as quantitative UX research to gather data and gain insights from it regarding users’ requirements, behaviours and motivation in order to test their results. Hence, UX research makes a considerable impact on the whole business and the role of the user experience (UX) researcher is in-demand.

A UX research follows a DELT approach, where the initials point to Discover, Explore, Listen, and Test.

A typical user experience researcher job description narrates that a UX researcher needs to have knowledge or experience in human behaviour and should be equally capable to handle data and analytics.

Apart from these, one must also have an understanding of the design thinking process and a passion to influence design strategy which can be achieved through working on research projects and refining these skills.

UX Research Methods

UX research is of majorly two types:

  • Qualitative which is based on observations and behavioural assessment. 
  • Quantitative where the findings are in the form of numbers and computations.
Source: Ferpection

For a credible UX researcher, it is necessary to understand the difference between both, and here is the perfect explanation of them: 

1. Qualitative UX Research:

Qualitative UX research mainly focuses on the qualitative outcomes of an in-depth analysis. By conducting qualitative UX research, the professional will come to know the common pain points of the buyers, studying the users’ response to a website’s call to action and the clicks made. It includes methods such as contextual observation, ethnographic studies, user interviews, field studies, customer surveys, and usability tests to know about the desires of the target audience. 

The data collected after this research are non-numeric hence the user’s opinions and motivation influence the end results.

2. Quantitative UX Research:

Quantitative UX research provides data in a measurable or numeral format. It implies using structured methods such as the analysis made on the gathered data from the qualitative research. Hence it is the subsequent step after the qualitative research. Google Analytics is a mostly used source of quantitative UX research data. It shows the number of visitors who visited a particular site and the percentage of visitors who converted into leads or sales among them.

While qualitative research provides data in the form of user opinions, the quantitative UX research outcome is mainly metrics and the actual data.

Furthermore, UX research is divided into two more research methods:

1. Attitudinal: Which is mainly based on the attitude of the users, e.g., user interviews

2. Behavioural: Focuses upon how the user acts when using a particular website.

A mix of all the methods is used during the design process to obtain clear insights.

How to Become a UX Researcher?

Becoming a UX researcher needs consistent efforts and knowledge. One can step into the field right after graduation or make a career transition if already a working professional.

  • Master the skills: Aspiring UX researchers from different disciplines after graduation, need to master the basic skills of studying the research methods, user response and interaction. While it is easier for marketing, psychology or the design professionals, it is a bit time consuming for other fields.
  • Take a course: You can take a course from a recognised university, institute or even refer to self-guided resources to get hired in once you gain the education and requisite skills and have built a solid foundation.
  • Build a strong foundation: Many accredited institutions have been offering curated UX programs for individuals looking to set up their foundation in UX. With rigorous efforts in building the skills, one can definitely land upon well-paying and highly rewarding UX research jobs.
  • Choose the right learning partner: There exist courses such as the design career track by Springboard aim to teach the observation techniques, carrying out rapid prototyping, principles of effective interface design, and the strategies for evaluating interfaces. In addition, they also have a series of quizzes and assignments helpful in learning and doing practice.

Making a Shift from Academic Research into UX Research

If you are an academic researcher and want to become a UX researcher, consider applying in an industry where:

  • You can collaborate with cross-functional partners such as product designers, engineers, marketing professionals, etc. to work on the product strategy and product design thinking
  • You can also do it by working on a volunteer research project in a local organisation or take help from professors in your university who are associated with applied research

Moving from a Non-research Role to UX Research in an Organisation

  • If you are employed in an industry and the organisation has a team of UX, design and market research, you can speak to your manager and research team manager to express your wish to become a part of the research projects. 
  • If there is no provision for research projects in your organisations, you can find labs in local universities conducting applied research to get hands-on experience.

What Skills are Required to Become a User Experience Researcher?

A user experience researcher job requires all-round skills right from communication, analytical, and organisational skills to work with a team. Here, you will find here we are listing down some specific skill set that employers look for in a prospective candidate.

  • Design Thinking

A UX researcher needs to have a mindset to visualise complex design problems keeping the users in mind. Due to this, they will be able to predict and deal with the issues their users might face while using a product and note the user’s response.

  • Research Skills

A UI design is nothing without proper research. Thus, employers look for an individual who can accurately understand a user’s expectations and preferences. The end-user is the centre point of a design. 

  • Visualisation Skills

A UX researcher needs to imagine the persona of a website or product to gather relevant information about user research. It deals with the attitude, patterns, and environment of how a typical user will be. This persona resembles a real user and is created to give data insights to the designers.

  • UX Mapping

UX mapping helps the users to collect their observations to inform UX designers to optimise the user journey. The pinpoints observed during a user’s journey can help UX researchers identify the touchpoints that can lead to poor user experience.

  • Usability Testing

A UX researcher is needed to perform usability testing for helping designers know the shortcomings in the product and improve them. During the testing process, UX researchers can come to know common errors faced while execution. This probes designers and developers to innovate a product successfully.

  • Communication Skills

Like every other job, a user experience researcher does need to have strong communication skills to address the concerns to his peers regarding the technical competencies. Being an active communicator helps in identifying user opinions.

UX Research Tools

The basic tasks that UX researchers have to perform are data analytics and reporting tools. 

A UX researcher should be skilled in utilising the tools such as Bugsee, Touch Heatmaps, Hotjar, etc. used for performing the recording of user feedback and other research operations. The details of these analytics tools are as follows:

Bugsee – Bugsee is an analytics tool used for reporting bugs. It provides detailed crashed session recordings, console logs and network traffic analysis for tracking bugs efficiently. 

Touch Heatmap – This tool collects the data on the gestures used by a user to interact with the app. This data is presented as a heat map over thel application which makes it easy to see people interacting with the app, their frequency, and any unresponsive gestures.

Hotjar – It is a tool used for qualitative website analysis and recording user feedback. It provides data such as users visiting a website or using a product and their experience. It has the features of user session recordings, conversion funnels and feedback polls and surveys to collect user feedback.

All these tools are user-friendly and quite easy to use and learn. The qualitative analytics outcomes fetched with these tools help in comprehending user behaviour, user interaction and preferences with the app metrics. Based on these metrics, the user experience can be measured and optimised.

UX Research Approaches

There are some commonly used methods for UX, some of which are quantitative or qualitative and some are the combination of both. Let’s have a look at those:

1. Analytics

Collecting web or app analytics/metrics of website traffic is an approach of quantitative research.

2. Surveys and Questionnaires

Surveys are used to capture massive information, rectifying common issues, and noticing user trends on a massive scale. It is used in both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

3. Usability Testing

Usability testing is used to test user interfaces before releasing them and know the time taken by a user to perform an action, the ease at which a user performs it, user navigation and the user’s feelings.

Usability testing can be performed in the following some ways:

  • Prototyping: Fetching wireframes as an initial draft.
  • Card sorting: Allows users to arrange content logically to design the information architecture

4. Monitoring

Conducting an analysis regarding the events occurring during a process to reach an outcome. It is categorised under both quantitative and qualitative UX research.

5. Heat Mapping

Capturing the mouse clicks and the eye movements to create an alternate heat map. A heat map is a data analysis software that uses the height and width for visualising data. This data is used for making business decisions.

6. User Interviews

Asking questions to the users to understand what they like or dislike in a particular product. This can be done on the website asking some questions or using a video.

7. Diary Record

Recording user interactions, timings, and processes when they use a system over a certain stipulated period of time such as a week or a fortnight.

8. A/B Testing

A/B testing is testing two options one by one and to determine which one turns out to be the best-using analytics.

Role of a User Experience Researcher and Salary Trends

A user experience researcher is one of the key parts in software and application development. They are responsible for:

  • Client interaction for determining user requirements.
  • Collecting data based on user surveys and other research methods
  • Annalyse the data gathered to convey during design and deployment to modify the application features.
  • Create strategies for implementing user experience changes, troubleshoot remote applications, and execute prototype testing. 

The role of a UX researcher is prominent and the professionals can bag lucrative jobs and earn a handsome amount of salary in this field. 

Salary statistic by Payscale  says:

  • An entry-level User Experience Researcher can expect to earn an average annual salary of ₹541,274. 
  • UX professionals with 1-4 years of experience in User Experience Research make an average of ₹760,000 per year. 
  • User Experience Researcher with 5-9 years of experience earns an average of ₹1,500,000 annually. 
  • An experienced User Experience Researcher having 10-19 years of experience earns an average total salary of ₹1,829,500.

How Springboard Can Help You Shape Your Career as a UX Researcher?

If you have an analytical mind and have the zeal to communicate well with your clients and peers, but wondering which path to choose to glorify your skills, Springboard is here for you with a carefully curated UI UX design career track course that will open the doors for UX research opportunities for you.

Course Features:

  • Learn to analyse consumer behaviour and gather data and form data-driven insights to address their needs
  • Dive deep into the design thinking process of an application to understand the probable risks and find a way to avoid them before designing
  • Brainstorming a software or an application to identify probable factors that could affect the user experience
  • Identifying appropriate research methods for a particular application
  • Collaborating and communicating with UX designers and developers
  • Creating reports and case studies

UX research is one of the most growing fields with prospering salary trends. A user experience researcher is the one who aptly looks after customer requirements and is one of the core members of a team. 

The demand for user experience researchers in every industry is on the rise hence one can expect a bright career after honing his skills with Springboard programs.

Quality speaks! A qualitative user experience researcher is a gem for industry and is responsible for researching every critical aspect of an application before, after and during the development.

If you believe in your skills and have the enthusiasm for reaching greater heights in your career, Springboard is the best place to fast pace your career!