What’s the difference between a UX researcher and a UX designer?
UX Tips

Published on June 22, 2022

What’s the difference between a UX researcher and a UX designer?

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.

Want to 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.

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, or testing a 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

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 having a background in marketing, psychology, sociology or other humanities studies might prove beneficial. 

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 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.

Salary expectations for a UX researcher

Average UX researcher base pay is around 98,000$ per year, according to Glassdoor. 

This sum varies depending on the size of the company trying to hire you, years of experience in this field, and the country you are applying for a job opening in, but this amount can be set as a starting point when negotiating your salary expectations with your employer.

ux researcher salary

Source: Glasssdoor

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. They must have a trained eye for 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!

How much will you be getting paid as a UX designer?

According to Glassdoor, you can make as much as 101,000$ per year as a UX designer. Of course, this value changes according to your country of employment, company size, and years of experience in the field, but this should be a good starting mark when negotiating your salary. 

ux designer salary

Source: Glasssdoor

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 methods to learn about the user experience on the website. Compiles data, analyses them, questions participants, and concludes all of the mentioned. 

UX designers are usually not the ones carrying out the research, they just look at the conclusions drawn from studies, and try to incorporate them into the website. UX researcher does 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 compliment each other and they could not function without themselves. Like Thanos said, perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Summing up… 

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. 

For every other of your UX needs, don’t hesitate to try out UXtweak – a powerful tool that makes UX studies a breeze for free!

Tereza Stehlíková
June 22, 2022
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Marketing & Sales Assistant at UXtweak who likes to discover the charm of UX and travel around the world.

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