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UX Researcher vs. UX Designer: What's the Difference?

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
October 11, 2023
UX Researcher vs. UX Designer: What's the Difference?


User experience (UX) is a broad field encompassing all aspects of a user's interaction with a product, system, or service. It aims to make these interactions as simple, efficient, and enjoyable as possible. The two major roles that contribute significantly to shaping user experience are UX researchers and UX designers.

While both roles aim for a seamless user journey, they do so through different methods and perspectives.

In this article, we will explain the difference between a UX researcher and a UX designer, focusing on their respective design roles, responsibilities, and even differences in salary like the UX designer's and UX researcher's salaries.

UX Research vs. UX Design

Understanding the differences between UX research and UX design can help businesses allocate resources wisely and guide aspiring professionals in their career choices.

What is UX Research?

UX research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, motivations, and attitudes through various observation and feedback methods. It may involve conducting interviews, surveys, and usability tests, among other approaches. The goal is to gather information to guide and inform the design process.

What is UX Design?

UX design, on the other hand, is more about the actual creation of the interface and experience. It involves making design decisions based on the findings of UX research and business requirements.

Who is a UX Researcher?

A UX researcher plays a critical role in shaping a product's design and development by advocating for the user. They utilize various research methods, including but not limited to user interviews, surveys, and usability testing, to gather valuable data on user behavior.

The UX researcher's role is about making informed design decisions, resulting in a more user-centered and intuitive product.

The primary goal of a UX researcher is to elevate the user experience by using data as a foundation for design choices. Through their efforts, they aim to identify and eliminate usability issues, ensuring that the end product is tailored to meet the needs and preferences of the user.

Role of a UX Researcher

Let's explore the role of a UX researcher in detail.

1. Responsibilities and Tasks

The responsibilities of a UX researcher go beyond simply gathering data; they play a crucial role in the design process by ensuring that user needs and behaviors are effectively captured and understood.

Below are some of the primary tasks typically involved in the role of a UX researcher:

  • Conducting User Interviews: One of the primary ways UX researchers collect qualitative data is through user interviews. This involves one-on-one conversations with users to delve into their experiences, preferences, and pain points.
  • Creating and Executing Surveys: Surveys offer another way to collect qualitative and quantitative data. A well-designed survey can provide broad insights critical to making informed design choices.
  • Data Analysis: After gathering data, the UX researcher analyzes it to uncover trends, patterns, and user needs. This analysis is a basis for making design recommendations and can influence the project's direction.
  • Reporting: A crucial part of the UX researcher's role is communicating the findings to the design and development teams. This often involves creating reports or presentations summarizing the research findings, making it easier for teams to implement the suggested changes.

2. Required Skills

In addition to the tasks and responsibilities, specific skills are considered essential for a successful career in UX research.

Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Analytical Thinking: A UX researcher needs strong analytical skills to interpret complex data and identify trends. This involves looking at qualitative and quantitative data to make sense of user behavior, preferences, and needs. Analytical thinking helps in drawing accurate conclusions that inform design decisions.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial in UX research. Researchers need to conduct interviews, facilitate discussions, and present their findings to the team. This involves creating concise reports and giving presentations that convert raw data into actionable insights.
  • Familiarity with Research Tools: Using research tools is another key skill. This includes software for surveys, data analysis, and usability testing. Being familiar with these tools allows more efficient and accurate data collection and analysis.

3. Collaboration with Other Team Members

Collaboration is critical to a UX researcher's role, as their findings and insights are vital for multiple departments within a design project team.

Here's how a UX researcher collaborates with various team members:

  • With UX Designers: The researcher's data and insights are crucial for UX designers, who use this information to make informed design choices. The ongoing dialogue between these design roles ensures that design solutions are user-centered and practical.
  • With Product Managers: Product managers rely on UX research to decide feature prioritization and product direction. Researchers' data helps align the product roadmap with user needs and market demand.
  • With Developers: While developers may not directly engage with UX researchers as often as designers or product managers, they still benefit from user insights when implementing the design. Researchers may provide information on user flow, pain points, and other factors impacting the development process.
  • With Stakeholders: UX researchers often present their findings to stakeholders to provide a user-centered perspective on the project’s progress and potential ROI (Return on Investment). This helps in securing buy-in for design changes or additional research activities.

4. Average Salary for UX Researchers

According to Glassdoor, the average salaries for UX researchers can vary substantially depending on the years of experience:

Years of Experience

UX Researchers Average Salary per Year

1-3 years


4-6 years


7-9 years


Who is a UX Designer?

A UX designer focuses on crafting user-friendly products that are intuitive, accessible, and straightforward to interact with. The role centers on ensuring the end-user has a satisfying experience while interacting with the product. UX designers are critical in implementing design solutions based on UX research data.

UX designers are integral to the design and development process, bridging the gap between what users need and what can be created within the technical and business constraints. Their work often involves collaborating with UX researchers to integrate findings into the design process, ensuring the product aligns well with user expectations.

Role of a UX Designer

Let's explore the role of a UX designer in detail.

1. Responsibilities and Tasks

The role of a UX designer is multi-faceted, involving a range of tasks and responsibilities aimed at enhancing the user experience.

Here are some of the key duties:

  • Wireframing and Prototyping: One of the initial steps in the design process, wireframing and prototyping help set the foundation for the user interface. This involves creating a visual guide that represents the layout and interaction points of the product.
  • User Testing: This is a crucial aspect where the designer tests the product's usability. It involves observing users as they interact with the product, noting difficulties or points of confusion, and then refining the design based on these observations.
  • Design Implementation: After the testing phase, UX designers work on implementing the design into the final product. This includes coordinating with developers to ensure the design elements are correctly translated into the end product.
  • UI Elements Design: This involves designing the individual components of the user interface, such as buttons, menus, and icons. The focus is on aesthetics and functionality, ensuring that the elements look good and are intuitive to use.

2. Required Skills

To be effective in their role, a UX designer needs a unique blend of skills that range from the creative to the technical.

Here are some of the essential skills:

  • Creative Thinking: The ability to think outside the box is crucial. UX designers must be able to envision innovative solutions that solve user problems and enhance the overall user experience.
  • Technical Skills: A good grasp of technology is essential. UX designers often work closely with developers and must understand the technical constraints and possibilities when designing a product.
  • Familiarity with Design Tools: Proficiency in design software, such as Adobe XD, Sketch, or Figma, is vital for creating wireframes, prototypes, and final designs.

3. Collaboration with Other Team Members

Collaboration is a pivotal aspect of a UX designer's role. UX designers do not work in a vacuum; instead, they are part of a larger team that may include UX researchers, product managers, developers, and marketing professionals.

Here's how a UX designer collaborates with these team members:

  • With UX Researchers: UX designers often work hand-in-hand with UX researchers to integrate user research findings into the design. This ensures that the design is grounded in real user needs and behaviors.
  • With Product Managers: Coordination with product managers is essential for aligning the design with the overall product strategy and business objectives.
  • With Developers: A close relationship with developers is crucial for translating the design into a functional product. Regular communication helps resolve any technical constraints and ensures the design vision is fully realized in the end product.
  • With Marketing Professionals: UX designers occasionally collaborate with marketing teams to ensure the design aligns with brand guidelines and helps achieve marketing goals.

4. Average Salary for UX Designers

According to information from Glassdoor, here are some average salary figures sorted by years of experience:

Years of Experience

UX Designer Average Salary

1-3 years


4-6 years


7-9 years


Key Differences Between UX Researcher and UX Designer

Understanding the difference between UX researcher and UX designer is important for anyone interested in user experience. While both roles aim to enhance the user experience, their focus areas, skill sets, tools used, and collaboration dynamics differ considerably.

1. Focus Area

  • UX Researcher: The main focus is gathering data about user behavior, needs, and motivations. They conduct various forms of user research like interviews, surveys, and usability tests.
  • UX Designer: Primarily concerned with implementing the findings from the research into actual designs. They are the ones who create wireframes and prototypes and design the UI elements.

2. Research vs. Implementation

  • UX Researcher: Engages in qualitative and quantitative research to generate actionable insights.
  • UX Designer: Uses these insights to create intuitive and user-friendly designs. Sometimes, they also conduct user testing to validate their designs.

3. Skill Sets: Analytical vs. Creative

  • UX Researcher: Requires strong analytical thinking and excellent communication skills. They need to be proficient in data analysis and reporting.
  • UX Designer: Needs a good balance of creative thinking and technical skills. They should be familiar with design tools and have a keen eye for aesthetics.

4. Tools Used: Research Tools vs. Design Tools

  • UX Researcher: Commonly uses tools like Qualtrics, Google Analytics, and Hotjar for data collection and analysis.
  • UX Designer: Typically uses software like Adobe XD, Sketch, or Figma for wireframing, prototyping, and designing UI elements.

5. Collaboration: Who They Work With Closely Within a Team

  • UX Researcher: Frequently collaborates with UX designers, product managers, and sometimes marketing professionals to ensure the research aligns with business goals and user needs.
  • UX Designer: Often works closely with UX researchers to incorporate research findings. They also coordinate with product managers for strategic alignment and collaborate with developers for design implementation.


UX researchers focus on gathering user insights and data, while UX designers take that data to create user-friendly interfaces. Both roles have distinct responsibilities and skill sets but share the same goal: to improve the user's experience with a product or service. Choosing the right people for these roles could be the key to your product's success.

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