Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. An overview of UX designer
3. An overview of UX researcher
4. Why separate UX designer and UX researcher roles
5. How do UX designers differ from UX researchers
6. What are their unique skill sets
7. Who is in more demand – UX designer or UX researcher?
8. Comparing the job roles
9. Who should small business hire: UX designer or UX researcher
10. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The confusion between these two roles arises because of the complex nature of the UX field. As you know, user experience is a domain that requires a deep understanding of the end user’s requirements. 

For this purpose, the UX team has to conduct extensive research and work on finding solutions. Although there are two different roles to fulfil this need, namely – UX designer and UX researcher, their tasks sometimes overlap. 

When current separate roles – UX designer and UX researcher – you provide ample opportunities. In both roles, numerous unique benefits can be segmented. So, let’s get started with the difference between UX designers and UX researchers, without further delay. 

2. An overview of UX designer

UX stands for user experience in an application. The primary job of a UX designer is to develop customer-friendly products. If you have to create a user-friendly application, you must understand your customers thoroughly. 

A UX designer’s primary area of concern is the user interface or UI. The UX designers use UI development to prepare better presentations. In addition, the UX designers strive hard to make the overall presentation and user experience better. The areas of concern of a UX designer are usability, interaction design, information architecture, and wireframes. 

While the purpose of information architecture is to pay attention to the business needs and the applications provided to the users, the interaction design highlights the features and elements to be used for better user interaction. Once the architecture is designed, the designers focus on the product or application usability. 

Then, the designers create a simple wireframe to showcase a sample of their application. Since all these steps require thorough research, it is suggested to consult with a UX researcher before laying hands on the application’s design. 

3. An overview of UX researcher

In the initial stage of product development, the UX researcher studies the psychology of the customers. In a way, they research and try to find out the customers’ motivations and what goes in a customer’s head when looking for an application. Unfortunately, a designer cannot perform this job as they barely have the time and the resources to conduct user research. This is the reason industry biggies employ a separate research team. 

To create a product successfully, it is recommended to employ various UX research methods. Common UX research methods include market research, customer survey, feedback on existing products, usability testing, studies, and final user interface testing. 

At the initial stage of a user research method, one must involve market research and customer feedback in the process. To save time, research can depend on ready-made market statistics available on the market. Also, they can go through the customer reviews or surveys to analyse the feedback that can help them begin their market recommendation. 

Two things that are of utmost importance and should be conducted during the initial phase of research are analysing the preference of the customer and the market. Along with this, the UX designer should evaluate and analyse the user experience in the entire development process. 

When the architecture-based UX research is done, UX researchers can evaluate the user experience and uncover recurrent issues that might affect the user experience by conducting usability testing. This kind of testing can include public testers or in-house testers. However, if you want to gather more value from this testing, allow the public to handle the application. This will help the designers get real-time feedback from the customers. 

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4. Why separate UX designer and UX researcher roles?

Now that you have got a clear idea about the roles of the UX designer and UX researchers, it is time to understand the reason behind separating these two roles. Even though the roles are separated and should be dealt with separately, sometimes, UX designers may have to conduct UX research to complete the application. 

When the roles of UX designer and researcher are joined, they make a lot of mistakes. Therefore, they have to face setbacks. As a result, the development of the application gets affected. The separation of the roles of a UX designer and UX researcher results in the following benefits: 

  1. Enhances the relevance of the design 
  2. Deliver a better user experience 
  3. Acknowledges and understands the ROI of UX design 

To provide a better insight into the difference in the roles of a UX designer and researcher, here are the best reasons for separating them: 

4.1 Better relevancy with usability 

When thorough research is conducted, it helps to understand how relevant the user experience is. To make things more relevant to the users, the UX designers can keep on adding elements and features that add value to the users. However, when adding more elements, make sure you do not confuse your customers and detract them. To produce the best applications, make sure to go through the feedback and review them.

4.2 Better user experience imparted by UX researcher

The primary reason behind conducting UX research is to create a better UX design. A significant part of this process is usability testing. Ensure honest feedback from the users when conducting usability research. This will help you improve potential drawbacks and reveal the true intentions of your target audience. This usability testing method should be followed by the UX designers as well. 

4.3 Better analysis of ROI with UX research

Besides delivering a better user experience, usability testing helps get better insight into ROI or return on investment. Through this usability research, designs can adapt to those designs that yield a positive result. Along with this, do not forget to imply analytics and track changes after redesigning. 

5. How do UX designers differ from UX researchers

By now, you know that a UX researcher does the base research on what a user might need, whereas a UX designer uses the findings of the research to design a user-friendly product. This is the simple difference between these two roles.

However, if you dig deeper, you will find that there exists a small difference in various aspects of the job requirements. Say you are aspiring to enter the UX field, understanding how you need to equip yourself for each role will be highly beneficial. So here is a list of further differences that would help you learn more about your job.

When it comes to what educational background you need to have to become a UX designer or researcher, there are a few differences.

5.1 UX designer

As a relatively new career option, there is not a lot of pressure to have high educational qualifications. In most cases, UX designers with a bachelor’s degree and relevant experience or skills are happily onboarded by the companies. 

You can pursue your degree in technical courses like computer science and engineering, or opt for an interactive design course to up your design skills.

5.2 UX researcher

To become a UX researcher, you must have a bachelor’s degree and sufficient experience in product research or human-computer interaction. But additionally, if you have completed your masters or PhD in similar areas, you will be surprised to find brilliant opportunities in this role. 

As user research forms the basis of this job, candidates with a background in psychology, statistics, behavioural sciences and information systems will have a wider scope.

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6. What are their unique skill sets

Apart from the educational requirements, you also need to have unique skill sets to excel within the UX domain. 

6.1 UX designer

To enter the UX field as a designer, you need to have technical skills that will help you perform wire framing, prototyping and usability testing. Furthermore, you must have proficiency in software like Sketch, Photoshop, and Figma to enable the aesthetics of the product. 

Besides these skills, you need to have a good eye for visual design, and a solid understanding of branding. Soft skills like collaborative ability, communication and time management are also valuable requirements for a UX designer. 

6.2 UX researcher

The most important skill for a UX researcher is the ability to conduct efficient research in qualitative as well as quantitative methods. Individuals with strong data analysis and problem-solving skills will be prioritized for this job role.

If you are a people person, this job would be perfect for you, as there are a lot of communication skills required here. Curiosity and observation skills are unsaid but important requirements for this job.

7. Who is in more demand – UX Designer or UX Researcher?

One crucial aspect you would want to know before entering the field in – which job is in more demand. Is it a UX designer or a UX researcher?  Well, there is no straight answer to this, and you will see why. 

7.1 UX designer

As the demand for better user design has increased the world over, the need for qualified UX designers has grown by leaps. It’s safe to say that currently, this is a flourishing job opportunity.

Moreover, many small companies are on the lookout for UX designers who can take over the responsibilities of a researcher as well. This added role means you can explore more and consequently earn more. 

7.2 UX researcher

While it is true that a UX designer has comparatively more job opportunities than a UX researcher, big and successful companies are constantly in the search of UX researchers. When compared to UX design, UX research is a more specialized area. Further, not many people are sufficiently qualified for this job. So candidates with expertise in this domain will be roped in for high-paying jobs by all the top giant companies. 

8. Comparing the job roles

As per current trends, UX designers have comparatively more job opportunities than UX researchers. You need to keep in mind that since there are a lot of candidates lining up for this role, the competition will be heavy. If you are searching for a constant job flow, you will find this role very satisfying. 

While there are not as many UX researchers at work, they are definitely paid more than UX designers. So, if you are after a job with a higher salary, UX research is a good option to consider.  

9.Who should small businesses hire: UX designer or UX researcher?

It’s no hidden fact that many growing companies cannot afford to hire UX designers and researchers separately. So they look for people who can handle both roles. 

Generally, UX designers who have a strong foundation in research are more likely to thrive successfully in this field. Businesses will see these designers as a huge asset to their company as they can dutifully perform the primary user research as well as ideate solutions to improve user experience.

Having said that, one should also acknowledge that UX researchers are an invaluable addition to any company. They have a deeper knowledge of research methodologies and know-how to integrate the results of the research in product designs. They are experts in analysing user behaviour and thus can tweak designs effectively. 

If you are truly focused on improving the user experience of your product, you should hire a UX designer as well as a UX researcher. Yes, provided you have the time and resources required for it. 

Pro tip for job aspirants in UX: Suppose you are a newbie in UX, you need to upskill yourself constantly. Having a strong base of knowledge of research and design will help you scale heights in this field.

10. Conclusion

Although smaller businesses mostly do not pay much attention to UX research, it is highly recommended to conduct at least usability testing to produce the best applications in the market. In addition, the designers can use the usability testing data as a roadmap to generate a better user experience.  So, instead of looking for a UX designer who can handle both the design and the research work, an organization should consider creating a dedicated research team. 


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