How is the UX researcher role different from a UX designer?

How is the UX researcher role different from a UX designer?

The term is generally used when talking about websites, applications, or intranets but it also applies to physical products and interfaces like Gas Pumps and ATM machines.

UX researchers are often responsible for:

  • Running usability tests to see how users interact with the current system.
  • Developing user surveys to get information from potential users.
  • Undertaking heuristic and expert audits of systems.
  • Shadowing users during their normal work activities to see how they interact with the systems and under what context.
  • Documenting Customer Journeys, Top Tasks and other deliverables that will support the design and development of the system.
  • UX Researchers are often also asked to undertake a Business Analysis role, and identify the business requirements for the system.  This is technically not part of a true “UX Researchers” area of expertise but it is similar in many respects and an easy area to expand into.  This can include identifying and documenting the business goals including Key Results Areas and Key Performance Indicators for the system.

A UX researcher should be competent in usability testing methodologies, statistics, analysis and reporting.  They must be good at undertaking primary research through surveys and in person interviews and focus groups.  They need to understand many of the principles of Human Computer Interfaces and Cognitive Psychology.

UX Designer

This is a bit more complicated, because there is the “What a UX Designer SHOULD be”, and “What a UX Designer generally is”.

What it generally is:

A UX Designer is the person who designs the interface and look and feel of the system.  

The simplest version is someone who really is a web designer and who uses Photoshop/Sketch to create visual mock-ups of the interface.  They may or may not spend time on low fidelity wire frames and sketches and they may or may not run usability tests on those mock-ups.  This type of UX Designer generally focuses on the look and feel and is often more concerned with the fonts and imagery than anything else.

A “basic” UX Designer might be accountable for:

  • Low fidelity and high fidelity Wireframes
  • Design mock-ups
  • Prototypes, templates and front end HTML/CSS