Recent reports predict that by 2028, the global UX market will be $1.3 billion, growing at a CAGR of 16.4%. Fierce competition in the digital products industry forces companies to find more effective ways to attract and retain customers. In particular, the role of user experience research is increasing.
With years of providing UX auditing and design services, the Arounda team knows firsthand that exceptional UX is the foundation of sustainable business development. Who is a UX researcher, and what does a UX researcher do? What skills do you need to be a UX researcher? Today, we'll discuss this position and its role for digital product companies. We will also tell you how to master this profession and how much money it will bring.
What do UX researchers do? Before we answer, let's define UX research itself.
To release a successful and long-lasting digital product, a company must provide customers with an easy-to-navigate and intuitive interface. Therefore, you need to study consumer needs and preferences. The most effective way to find out what the audience wants and what repels them is UX research.
It's a set of techniques and tools for finding insights to improve the user experience. This process helps brands estimate what visitors want to see in a product. As a result, companies better understand their customers and save themselves from mistakes that blind launching leads to, such as implementing useless features. Generally, there are two types of research.
Quantitative research uses statistics and calculations. For example, a specialist might study how fast a tester handles a task and how many errors they have in the process.
Qualitative studies serve to answer the "why" question. For example, why respondents didn't like the test version. This data provides insight into what caused the negative experience and helps supplement the results of quantitative studies.
The particular methods of studying user experience are more numerous. The most common ones you may encounter are:
1. Questionnaires and surveys are suitable for both qualitative and quantitative studies. They are effective for both single and regular use. A professional can compare reactions to changes and product updates by offering the same questions to a control group.
2. A/B tests help compare two software versions and determine which will be more popular. The advantage of this method is that specialists get comprehensive feedback without the need to test in a live environment.
3. The first click test is conducted on an existing platform and a prototype. It gives an understanding of which element the visitor pays attention to first.
4. Card sorting. Respondents select topics and group them by importance. With this, UX/UI designers better understand how to make a user-friendly and intuitive interface.
5. Interviews are the fastest and easiest way to get valuable insights. Interviews are conducted both individually and in focus groups.
6. Usability tests. The essence of this method is to have a control group perform a task using a product. During this time, the researcher observes the duration of the execution and the problems the testers have.
7. Contextual observation is a way of observing users in their familiar environment.
8. Diary studies. The visitors test the software and record their observations in a diary over a selected period. The method helps to understand at what hours and how the respondents use the product.
This person applies the methods mentioned earlier to evaluate user opinion. Next, the researcher, or as it is called, the UX strategist, consolidates the knowledge and insights to create the most viable product with the minimum resource expenditure.
The work of this specialist is inextricably connected with the developers and UX / UI designers. The UX researcher becomes an intermediary between the target audience and the project team, delivering the voice of the customer. Through two-way interaction, the brand increases sales and closes the pains of real consumers.
What is the role of a UX researcher? The most typical task for a UX expert is working with designers and product owners to highlight research needs. This is followed by selecting methods, generating questions, and selecting respondents. Also, this position involves determining the timeline and budget for the study.
The specialist collects data, analyzes and transforms it into understandable recommendations. Based on the findings, developers and designers implement new features, update, and fix existing bugs.
To perform their duties effectively, a candidate must also have the following personal qualities:
Communicativeness, ability to collaborate with different departments of the team.
Empathy. It will help to understand interviewees better and feel the audience's needs.
Design thinking. It is a way of solving user-centered problems. This skill helps to make the interface more accessible.
Curiosity. It's essential for finding new methods and ways to research. True professionals never rest on their laurels but constantly look for ways to evolve.
Problem-solving. Every UX researcher should have critical thinking and be able to come up with different solutions to user problems.
Depending on their qualifications, UX experts are divided into Junior (up to 3 years of experience), Intermediate (3-5 years in the profession), and Senior (More than 5 years of relevant experience).
How much does a UX researcher make? Well, the answer will depend on your country and experience. According to recent data from Glassdoor, within the U.S., the salary for such jobs ranges between $73,500 and $226,000 per year.
If you're starting out on your career path, you can expect an annual salary of $73,500. A middle UX researcher can earn about $79,800 with an additional compensation of $6,900 (bonuses, commissions, etc.). Thus, the overall average wage reaches about $86,800 annually.
Senior-level professionals' average salary is $132,600 and can reach up to $226,000. What does a senior UX researcher do? They are obliged to:
Form and manage a team of researchers.
Take mentorship and guide juniors.
Share experience during conferences and workshops
Develop research plans
Propose new research methods to achieve business goals
Communicate with stakeholders
How do you become a UX researcher? What education and certifications do you need for this? Let's break it down.
To enter the profession, a candidate must have at least a bachelor's degree. That said, you have to get a diploma in science or technology. This includes information systems, computer science, psychology, statistics, design, and analytics.
Once you have a degree in one of these areas, take specialized courses. They will help you acquire the applied skills needed for UX research. You can search for free options or select a class on platforms like Coursera. After that, make sure you get practical skills. Where to look for your first internship?
Industry organizations that recruit volunteers. For example, UX Rescue, Code for America, or Catchafire.
Large organizations that are looking for young talents. This could be Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft, and other industry giants.
Job search resources such as LinkedIn.
Themed groups and events like hackathons.
Create a portfolio when you've received your education, taken courses, completed internships, and maybe even gotten your first recommendations. That way, a potential employer can assess your skills, which will be advantageous during employment. You can also post the portfolio on your website or sources like LinkedIn.
Finally, find like-minded people. Become a member of communities and groups dedicated to UX and build up your contacts. This will help you gain valuable knowledge and learn about hiring opportunities.
If you need a professional UX audit, tell us about your requirements. The Arounda team has already helped over 130 companies achieve their business goals.
Request a consultation, and we'll find the best solution.
To succeed in this profession, you need a wide range of skills. First and foremost, these are: Time management skills and attention to deadlines, Analytical skills, Ability to find and solve user problems, Excellent communication with the client and the team, Understanding of UX-design principles, Ability to search for relevant information, Knowledge of different research methods and ability to apply them competently, Attention to details
Salary depends on qualification. Based on Glassdoor data, junior professionals (up to three years of experience) can earn about $73,500 per year in the United States. As for specialists with middle and senior qualifications, their earnings average $86,800 and $132,600, respectively. To increase your chances of getting paid more, we advise you to regularly add successful cases to your portfolio and improve your qualifications. To do this, attend industry workshops, master classes, and courses.
Indeed, UX experts have a great responsibility to the team and the investor. What does UX researcher do? They must choose a suitable methodology, find deep insights and guide the design team. Sometimes communication misunderstandings, tight deadlines, and workloads lead to burnout. To minimize stress and anxiety, find a life-work balance. Keep away from overwork, do exercise, and engage in hobbies. Take regular vacations and retreats. It will help you recover and stay motivated.
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