How can I become a UX Researcher? UX Question #56

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Alessia from Italy asks: How can I become a UX Researcher?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Alessia. This is UX Question number 56 and I am Ben Judy.

How can I become a UX Researcher?

Well, back in episode 51 I answered the question, “How can I start my career in UX design?” And I gave you five tips based on my experience, looking back on what helped me get my start as a designer.

I think all of those tips can apply to getting started as a UX researcher as well. But here I’ll give a few additional tips with the role of user researcher in mind.

You’ll want to learn about qualitative and quantitative research methods, and pursue opportunities to practice these methods. Take on any kind of human centered research project that you can get involved in, and gain experience capturing qualitative observations and quant data about human behavior, attitudes, opinions, and experiences.

You’ll also want to gain experience capturing insights about attitudes and behaviors. Study what people feel and think internally, and also study what people actually do, externally.

You can join research projects as a volunteer, or just create your own project to practice various methods and build these skills.

Becoming a user researcher also requires that you learn how to synthesize findings from research studies. Having captured all of this qual and quant data about attitudes and behaviors, you need to practice summarizing what you learned, and also drawing conclusions that would shape the strategy and direction of a product or service, to make the user experience better.

Those were the first things that came to my mind. I also threw this question out to some user researchers online, and they offered these tips:

Learn as much as you can about how decisions are made at different levels of organizations of various types.

Learn how product teams work.

Interview researchers at various orgs, both centralized and embedded in dev teams, to better understand their challenges.

Learn to build relational databases.

Learn to use AI systems.

Be pragmatic.

Focus on delivered value to decision-makers. I really like that piece of advice. One common problem user researchers struggle with is measuring and explaining the impact of their research. How did it help the business succeed? How did it help the organization save money or time, or take a shortcut to increasing user satisfaction? Learn all that you can about value delivery and user research.

Having built skills and knowledge related to user research, you then just need to execute an effective job search. Go back and listen to episode 55, What does a UX hiring manager look for?

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What is Design Ops?

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