Why Hire a UX Researcher?

28 January 2021

What use is a website or an app if it’s not user friendly? 75% of consumers admit to making judgements on a company’s credibility based on its website design and functionality alone. If your website doesn’t offer a simple and seamless user experience in the tech industry, customers will doubt your credentials. After all, to be a top player in tech, you should master the basics, which means your own website.

With so many different devices and platforms now available to a customer, user experience is more vital than ever. For example, 57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business if their website doesn’t work correctly on mobile devices.

This is where UX researchers come in.

Without researching user behaviours and knowledge of UX design principles, tech startups are shooting without aim. Online businesses need to understand their audience and how they’ll use a platform, or it could be redundant before their business has even taken off. A design that is not relevant to its target audience will never be a success. Therefore, for companies which rely entirely on their online interfaces, it’s better to build on a foundation of research and knowledge rather than testing your website’s usability as your business launches. This gives you a head start in the online world and provides an opportunity to improve upon an already successful recipe as you scale; rather than rethinking your entire digital presence. A UX researcher can help with this.

However, as consumer habits change, it’s no longer only digitally native businesses that require a strong online presence and prioritise UX. As more companies move into online spaces, it’s no surprise that User Researchers came 6th in LinkedIn’s recent study of 15 emerging jobs in the UK, and (at the time of writing) in the last year, online searches for UX researcher have increased by 42%. Therefore, it’s undeniable that this is a role scaling tech business should be aware of as the competition for tech talent heats up.

To help you better understand what UX researchers do and whether they can help your business, we’ve put together a guide.

What is a UX Researcher?

To put it simply, a UX researcher studies your target customer or existing customers and uses their findings to influence the design of websites, apps and digital applications.

A UX researcher learns and understands the target user’s needs from your brand and products through various research methods. They take a deep dive into your customers’ motivations and behaviours and use their findings to influence and guide the design process.  

 This hopefully creates a seamless and relevant user experience which will hopefully have positive implications for the business. It’s their job to put your customers and people at the heart of your interface designs and tech products. They monitor the user experience and continually identify areas for improvement, whether it’s automating elements, speeding up loading times or even changing design elements to meet current UX trends.

What’s the difference between a UX Researcher and a UX Designer?

It’s important to note that a UX Researcher is not the same as a UX Designer.

 A UX designer’s job is to design websites and apps which are as easy to use and as attractive as possible, encapsulating the brand. To do that, they must first understand their target market and what appeals to them. Before they begin designing, they need to know what their consumers want, their motivations for buying, and their main deterrents. This is where the role of a UX researcher comes into force.

They study the target audience, test potential designs and use research methods to help create the most effective design as possible. The two roles work together to make a faultless online user experience.

What does a UX Researcher do?

Ultimately, a UX researcher’s job is to discover the impact a design or product will have on the human that uses it. It is their job to uncover what the target market expects from a design and translate their findings into a website, app or digital product design, which is user friendly and appeals to the target market.

They engage in many different research methods from interviewing potential users to surveys, A/B testing and even broader competitor research. Using qualitative and quantitative research methods, they can get an overall picture of a site’s usability and general feeling. They can also decipher elements which will enhance the user experience.

UX Researchers engage in three different research methodologies: observation, understanding and analysis. Firstly, they observe people interacting with a product and look for behavioural cyphers such as time spent on the site, click locations or the point in which they stop scrolling. They use understanding to consider what users know about a website already. For example, a magnifying glass indicates a search function or three lines in the top right-hand corner often means a menu will appear. They then use analysis to interpret their data, identifying patterns in the user experience and using them to influence the design of the website or product.

These findings are then translated to the UX Designer, who will get to work designing the interface.

What does the day to day role of a UX Researcher look like?

The daily responsibilities of a UX researcher are:

  • Managing and conducting user research
  • Concept development for online platforms
  • Researching buyer profiles
  • Investigating consumer behaviour
  • Collaborate with a UX designer to oversee the process of wireframing
  • Implementing UX improvements
  • Working with marketing and product teams to identify research topics
  • Plan and implement user research strategies

What industries do UX Researchers work in?

As we all consume more tech and rely on it for our daily lives and businesses embrace digitisation, there is arguably a place for a User Researcher in almost every industry. If you have a website that needs constant maintenance and improvement, a UX researcher can hugely enhance your business.

You’ll often find UX Researchers working in the tech sector, helping to develop apps and online products that can match the target user’s expectations. All of the tech giants like Google, Amazon even Airbnb have UX Researchers, and it is becoming a popular role within the tech startup space to ensure that their product is strong from the day it launches. Airbnb’s co-founder Joe Gebbia even attributed the success of startup unicorns to robust UX design, which is always founded in research.

Suppose you see a new online banking app, a new social media platform or any digitally native business that relies heavily on its online experience. In that case, you can guarantee UX research has been involved at some point.

UX Researchers can monitor the candidate experience in recruitment, ensuring that the application process is not too long and clunky. A good candidate experience is imperative for attracting top talent and impacts their employer brand, so this experience must be seamless.

Similarly, in e-commerce UX Researchers can monitor the purchasing process; assessing touchpoints, the time it takes to check out and issues like abandoned carts. They can make suggestions for personalisation on the site like recommending products based on previous behaviours, implementing chatbots or even sending abandoned cart emails.

What qualities should you look for when hiring a UX Researcher?

A good UX researcher should have, above all else, an in-depth understanding of user experience and UX design, so that they can know instantly how to translate their findings into an effective design.

They should be experienced in market research methods from conducting user-based research to more traditional methods like interviewing and running surveys. They should have a knowledge of user experience which can allow them to conduct behavioural analysis and research from live users on a website or app.

Also, a good UX Researcher must be a critical thinker who can solve problems. They should be able to interpret data, be curious and think outside of the box – what use are 500 abandoned carts if you can’t think of a solution?

Finally, they must be able to communicate well with the UX Designer and work as a team, as it is these two roles functioning together which will result in success. They should have good project management and time management skills as they’ll often be working with the UX Designer alone on a project, but both will be working to tight deadlines.

Talent Works specialise in finding top tech talent to help companies grow and innovate. Through direct sourcing, digital recruitment marketing and attraction strategies, and building employer brands that cut through the noise and resonate with the tech market. Contact us to find out how we could help your business find and connect with leading user researchers and UX professionals.

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