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UX Researcher vs UX Designer [w/Salary Comparison]

Tereza Stehlikova
•  09.04.2024
What are the distinctions between UX researchers and UX designers? What do they do? Why do you need both of them? Well, ask no more, today we’ll explain everything.

Do you want to start your UX career and become a UX designer or a UX researcher but don’t know where to start? Or are you looking for one but don’t know what their responsibilities are and what to expect from them? In that case you are in the right place! We have compiled a list of useful information when searching for UX designers and UX researchers or considering becoming one.

Who is a UX researcher?

A UX researcher is a person who advocates for the user in the design process. They conduct user research and usability testing in order to find out more about user behavior and alter the product to fit to the target audience.

The goal of a UX researcher is to improve the user experience by gathering data and using it to support design decisions. This allows them to ensure that the product they’re working on is going to be user-centered and intuitive, with no significant usability issues.

What do UX researcher do?

User experience researchers have a wide range of responsibilities. First of all, they set up the research goals that they want to achieve. These may be improving the overall user experience, reworking the information architecture, testing visual design, or conducting usability tests on brand new feature.

Then they need to draft and implement a plan that aims to achieve those aforementioned goals. The plan usually consists of finding users or respondents to complete studies, keeping in touch with these participants, and, of course, making that research happen.

After all this has been achieved they need to get the results together and present solutions to the issues that have been found through participants completing studies. Every study is different but they have the same end goal: improving the user experience.

This can be done with various study types, such as Card Sorting and Tree Testing, user interviews, surveys, unmoderated and moderated usability studies etc.

ux researcher

What are the most common UX researcher skill sets?

Some of the common skills UX researchers are required to have are:

  • Data analysis and analytical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • deep understanding of users and their needs.
  • Strong communication skills
  • Working with onlineUX research tools like UXtweak
  • Research design skills
  • Research planning and strategy
  • Knowledge and implementation of UX research methods

How to become a UX researcher?

If you want to be a UX researcher, you most of the time don’t need a Ph.D. Although you need to develop key competencies and having a background in marketing, psychology, sociology or other humanities studies might prove to be strong foundation to build upon.

Master’s in UX research is still more of a rarity and is not required. UX research is a complex topic but can be learned through online courses, educational programs, mentoring and such.

As to the matter of soft skills, you have to be a manager and a wordsmith at the same time. You need to ask questions well, compile statistics, read the results of studies you oversee and conclude the findings. You also must have a distinguished ability to both vocally and graphically produce, and present meaningful ideas.

What is a UX designer?

UX designer is a role that’s focused on creating user-centered designs that are intuitive, accessible, and overall easy to interact with. UX designers are responsible for creating satisfying experiences for the users and design solutions backed by UX research data.

UX Designers are sometimes also called Product Designers, but there’s a slight difference between two roles. Find out more in our Product Designer vs. UX Designer comparison.

What do UX designers do?

UX designers are more involved when it comes to solving these issues found on your website. While UX researchers do the actual research, UX designers communicate with visual designers and creative directors, so they can incorporate findings into the website or digital product to provide right experience for users. They must have a trained eye for graphic design, so they can work with and update it accordingly. Not to mention, time management skills, attention to detail, and creative thinking should be on point as well.

ux designer

How to become a UX designer?

UX design is a pretty new field of work, but getting a job as a UX designer is pretty much the same as applying for work as an artist. There are some university courses you can take on UX Design, but they are not needed for you to find a job in this field.

A design, IT, or management background can grant you enough experience to do this job. You must first learn the fundamentals of user experience and then, and only then, can you progress to learning about UX design itself.

There are many online and in-person courses, so try to find one that suits you and apply. For example, Google offers an online course about UX design you can take a look at. These Google courses are usually sharable and can be added to your LinkedIn account. You cannot make big leaps, without making smaller steps before it.

If you think you mastered the theory, you can now move on to implementing your knowledge in designing digital products. You can try various methods of working on small-scale projects, slowly building up your portfolio. When you think you have enough experience, you can try and apply for job entries. Good luck!

UX researcher vs UX designer salary

According to Glassdoor, here are some of the average salaries for UX researchers and designers sorted by years of their experience.

UX Researcher

UX Designer

1-3 years of experience

$93,936/year

$105,184/year

4-6 years of experience

$103,651/year

$116,165/year

7-9 years of experience

$109,958/year

$124,324/year

As we can see, the average salaries for UX designers and researchers in the US vary, with UX Designer getting a higher pay. Let’s take a look at how much each of them makes on average.

How much does a UX researcher make?

Judging by our research at Glassdoor, the estimated total pay for a UX Researcher is $85,158 per year in the United States area, with an average salary of $81,368 per year. This number of course varies from state to state.

ux researcher salary

In Europe, on the other hand, UX researchers’ salary is significantly lower. In Germany, UX researchers make around €60,567/yr, in France €48,104/yr and €66,670 / yr in the Netherlands.

Salary expectations for a UX Researcher in 2024

Here are some of the expected UX researcher salaries in the US in 2024. Entry-level positions can expect to make up to $50,000/year. Junior UX researcher’s average salary is around $72,000 per year. As for the mid-level professionals, the salary expectations are around $105,000 per year. Senior UX researchers can expect to earn anywhere around $124,000 per year in 2024.

How much does a UX designer make?

According to Glassdoor, the estimated total pay for a UX Designer is $116,910 per year. UX Designer’s salary usually depends on the years of experience and the company they work for, as well as the country. In companies like Microsoft or Adobe UX designers can make up to $185,000.

ux designer salary

In Europe, UX designers can make around €55,029/yr in Germany, €45,331/yr in France and €73,331/yr in the Netherlands.

Salary expectations for a UX designer in 2024

In 2024, UX designers in the US can expect the following average salaries. Uxcel‘s research shows that entry-level positions can expect to get around $50,000 per year. Junior designers will be earning around $67,500 per year. As for the mid-level professionals, this number will go up to an average of $95,000 per year. Senior UX designers will be earning around $125,000 per year.

UX research vs. UX design: what’s the difference

UX design and research are both part of the design thinking approach. These two work together towards the same goal: creating a product with outstanding UX to provide positive user experience. However, they approach this goal quite differently.

To give you a quick explanation of the difference: UX researchers gather information by doing research and testing of product to gather feedback from users. While UX designers use their findings to design the product itself, making it functional, intuitive, and visually appealing.

UX research and design as processes complement each other, as you simply can’t design a user-friendly product without knowing your user personas. That’s why the research phase always goes first. Before creating a product you need to understand who you’re creating it for, find out if there’s a need on the market and decide which exact problem it’s going to solve.

UX research helps to get a better understanding of who your target users are and how they expect your product to function. Only with that knowledge, UX designers are then able to create design solutions for the product itself, assuring it’s good UX.

Where do these jobs overlap and what differentiates them?

UX designers and researchers can seem similar to an untrained eye, but we can safely say that they could not be more different. UX researchers use various user research methods to learn about the user experience on the website. Compiles user insights, analyses them, questions participants, to gain solid understanding what target user wants.

UX designers are usually not the ones carrying out the research, they look at the conclusions drawn from studies, and try to incorporate them into the design process. UX researcher do not need an IT background or design background. However, UX designers don’t need a background in sociology or psychology. Therefore what they are trying to achieve is the same – improve UX, but their execution of improving UX is different.

Why do you need them both when adjusting your UX?

You need both a UX designer and a UX researcher when working to improve UX. One cannot function without the other. These two positions are like the Yin-Yang of user experience. They complement each other and they could not function without themselves. Like Thanos said, perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Summing up: Enhancing User Experience on Websites

We helped to establish the base facts, now you don’t need to search for hours about the job expectations, salary, and responsibilities as a UX Designer or a UX researcher. They are both crucial to a business that wants to operate efficiently online, so be on the lookout for potential candidates for these roles.

If you find the right people for the job, your users will notice. Small details make a whole website come together. These two positions will be the glue that binds the user’s feelings and experience on the website with the finished product, making it much more user-friendly.

Don’t hesitate to try out UXtweak for free – a powerful tool that makes the life of UX researchers and designers a breeze!

 

People also ask (FAQ)

What is the salary of UX Researcher?

The salary will vary depending on the country. For U. S. you can expect the average entry-level positions to make up to $50,000/year. Junior UX researcher’s average salary is around $72,000 per year. As for the mid-level professionals, around $105,000 and senior UX researchers can expect to earn anywhere around $124,000 per year in 2023. Learn more in the UX researcher salary section.

Can a UX designer be a UX researcher?

Yes, but should not be. Although you will often see this happening (especially in smaller companies or the ones where UX maturity is low) to do it right you need both a UX designer and a UX researcher. One will have a lot of difficulties functioning without the other. We explain the differences and key competencies in the article in more detail.

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