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Jul 31, 2023

about 5 min read

UX Researcher vs. UX Designer: Which Suits You Better?

What is the difference between a UX researcher vs UX designer? Find out what they do, need, and earn in this article.

 

As the world of technology continues to evolve, the importance of UI/UX design has become increasingly apparent. It is a critical component of any successful product or service. By understanding the needs and wants of users, UX professionals can create products that are easy to use, efficient, and enjoyable.

 

But, not all UX professionals are created equal. The roles of a UX researcher and a UX designer are often confused, which can lead to a lack of clarity in projects and hinder the success of a product. Thus, this article seeks to explain the roles and responsibilities of a UX researcher vs UX designer, how they differ in skills, salary, and demand, and how they collaborate to create user-friendly products.

 

UX Researcher vs. UX Designer

The Role of a UX Researcher

 

A UX researcher is a tech professional figuring out a product's target market. This includes what motivates the consumers and how the potential product could improve their lives. 

 

Their primary focus is understanding users’ needs, goals, and motivations. To do so, they use a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. So, they can collect and analyze data about the users, their needs, preferences, behaviors, and pain points. Some of the common methods used by UX researchers are:

 

  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Usability testing
  • Observations
  • Analytics
  • Persona creation
  • Journey mapping

A UX researcher’s job is to provide insights and recommendations to the larger UX design team based on their findings. They help define the problem, validate the solution, and measure the impact of the product on the users.

 

UX researchers typically have a psychology, sociology, or human-computer interaction background. They also have strong research skills, such as data analysis and statistical analysis.

 

The Role of a UX Designer

 

A UX designer is a tech professional who creates a product that meets the needs and expectations of the users. Their primary focus is on creating user-centered designs that are both intuitive and visually appealing. They must have a strong understanding of human-computer interaction (HCI) principles. And they ought to be able to translate user needs into practical design solutions. 

 

A UX Designer uses the insights the UX researchers provide to create wireframes, prototypes, mockups, and designs that align with user needs and business goals. They work closely with UX researchers to ensure their designs are based on user needs. Some of the common tasks performed by UX designers are:

 

  • Sketching
  • Wireframing
  • Prototyping
  • UI design
  • Interaction design
  • Information architecture
  • Usability testing
  • User feedback

A UX designer’s job is to deliver a product that solves the user’s problem, enhances their experience, and satisfies their goals. They collaborate with other stakeholders—such as developers and product managers—to bring their designs to life.

 

UX designers typically have a graphic design, visual communication, or interaction design background. They also have strong design skills, including typography, color theory, and layout. 

 

UX Researcher vs. UX Designer: Key Differences

 

UX research vs. UX design

Both UX researchers and designers work towards creating a better user experience. Yet, they have different roles, skills, and perspectives. Here are the table comparing a UX Researcher vs UX Designer:

 UX ResearcherUX Designer
FocusUnderstanding the userCreating the product for the user
MethodsCollecting and analyzing dataCreating and testing prototypes
SkillsData analysis, communication, empathy, critical thinking, storytellingVisual design, UI design, prototyping, coding, testing
DeliverablesReports, personas, journey maps, insightsWireframes, mockups, UIs, prototypes
CollaborationWith UX designers and other stakeholders to ensure findings are usedWith UX researchers, developers and product managers to bring designs to life

 

UX Researchers vs. UX Designers: Who Makes More Money?

 

Both are essential for creating successful products. Yet, when comparing UX researchers vs. UX designers’ salary, there is evidence that the former is higher. According to Glassdoor, in July 2023, the average salary for a UX researcher was $121,999 per year in the US. At the same time, the average salary for a UX designer was $99,123 per year

 

 

This is because when comparing UX Design vs. UX Research, the latter is a more specialized field. Thus, there are fewer UX researchers than UX designers.

 

Even so, the salary range for both varies depending on various factors, such as experience, location, and industry. Again, according to Glassdoor, some of the top-paying companies for UX researchers were Meta ($198k), Google ($187k), and Amazon ($177k). In contrast, some of the top-paying companies for UX designers were Google ($221k), Roblox ($203k), and Amazon ($195k).

 

Working Together: How UX Researchers and Designers Collaborate

 

 

Although UX researchers and designers have different roles, they are not isolated from each other. In fact, they need to collaborate closely throughout the product development process. So, the product can meet the user’s needs and expectations. 

 

UX researchers provide insights and data that inform the design process. At the same time, UX designers create designs that align with user needs and business goals. As you can see, the two roles are complementary. Thus, collaboration is critical to ensuring that products meet user needs and are successful in the market.

 

Unfortunately, UX researchers and designers often face challenges when working together, such as:

  • Misalignment of goals and expectations. UX researchers and designers may have different perspectives and priorities for the product. This leads to conflicts and misunderstandings. 
  • Lack of communication and collaboration. Both may work in silos without sharing their findings, feedback, ideas, and suggestions with each other. This can result in missed opportunities, duplicated efforts, and inconsistent designs.
  • Budget and time constraints. UX researchers and designers may have limited resources and deadlines to complete their tasks. This can affect the quality and scope of their work. For example, a UX researcher may need more time to conduct thorough research. Or, a UX designer may need more budget to create high-fidelity prototypes.

To overcome these challenges, UX researchers and designers need to:

  • Sharing goals. It is important for both parties involved to have a shared vision and goal for the product. They should ensure their objectives, expectations, and success criteria are in alignment with one another and with stakeholders.
  • Communicating effectively. Both should communicate frequently and clearly with each other. Sharing findings, feedback, ideas, or suggestions in a timely and respectful manner is crucial. Additionally, avoiding the use of jargon can help prevent misunderstandings.
  • Co-creating: Both should co-create deliverables, including personas, journey maps, wireframes, and prototypes. It is essential for them to involve each other in their processes and activities to ensure alignment and incorporate feedback.
  • Testing together. Both should test their prototypes together with real users. They should closely observe how users interact with their products, gather feedback, and evaluate user satisfaction. Also, it is equally important to analyze the results together and pinpoint areas for improvement.

UX Designer vs. UX Researcher: The Importance of Understanding the Distinction

 

Understanding the distinction between a UX researcher vs UX designer is necessary for several reasons:

  • It assists you in choosing the right career path based on your interests, skills, and goals.
  • It helps you appreciate each role’s value and contribution to the product development process.
  • It allows you to collaborate better with your team members and deliver a better user experience.

Suppose you are interested in becoming a UX researcher or a UX designer. In that case, you can start by learning the basics of UX, such as user research, design thinking, prototyping, and testing. To do so, you can explore online courses, books, blogs, podcasts, and communities that offer valuable insights and knowledge. Additionally, seeking out mentors, internships, projects, and building a portfolio can help you gain experience and demonstrate your skills.

 

We hope this article has helped you understand the difference between a UX researcher vs UX designer. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them below. We will reach out to you as soon as possible.

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