User experience researchers, also known as user researchers, focus on user experience - abbreviated in the industry as 'UX.' They focus on target audiences for a given product or service and collect data on how users interact with products and services. User experience researchers then collate and interpret the data and present it to an organization's management and stakeholders to increase an organization's return on investment (ROI). The role of the user experience researcher allows the organization to approach and achieve its long-term goals from a user-centered perspective. User experience researchers share some similar duties with web developers in that both engage in survey creation and interpretation of data for continuous quality improvement of the product, service, or site.
User experience researchers serve an organization's user base as well as the organization itself. Researchers serve in an advocacy role for users of products or services because they create case studies, surveys, and scenarios that reflect users' experiences with the organization's products or services. These surveys, in turn, serve as the foundation for qualitative and quantitative reports prepared for the organization to better serve the needs of its users.
|Educational Requirements||Minimum of a bachelor's degree required, although master's degrees are highly desirable|
|Degree Field||User experience design, anthropology, human-computer interaction (HCI), industrial design, psychology or other cognitive science, industrial engineering or a related discipline|
|Job Skills||Strong knowledge of research methods, ability to prioritize projects, excellent communication and presentation skills, ability to work both independently and in groups, strong interest in analytics and statistics|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$69,430 (Web developers)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||15% (Web developers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The minimum degree required for user experience researchers is a bachelor's. The degree should ideally be in one of the following disciplines: user experience design, human-computer interaction (HCI), industrial design, industrial engineering, psychology or another related cognitive science, or anthropology. Master's degrees, however, are highly desired by many prospective employers.
User experience researchers engage in the interpretation of data from surveys created and conducted to gauge end-user experience with a product, site, or service. As such, user experience researchers require strong skills in analytics and statistics. Research methods expertise is crucial to the role because different types of surveys require different approaches, including qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Because user experience researchers must be able to present data in a way that is easily grasped by others in the organization, strong presentation and communication skills are a must; since the user experience researcher also acts in an advocacy role for end-users of a product, service, or site, it is important to be able to communicate the needs of the end-user to the organization. Lastly, user experience researchers must be able to prioritize projects as their duties commonly include working on multiple surveys, research, interpretation, and presentation of data and survey results.
Career Outlook and Salary
In May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the annual median pay for web developers was $69,430. The growth rate is expected to be 15% between 2016 and 2026, as reported by BLS. This rate is faster than that for all other occupations. The BLS notes that some organizations outsource the job to countries with lower wages but that the expense of managing multiple developers may offset any potential savings to the organization.
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