UX researcher vs UX designer - cover

UX researcher vs UX designer: What’s The Difference?

Design, Product
12 min
Jul 10, 2024

Designing with users’ needs in mind goes far beyond creating an appealing picture. If, in the 2000s, customers were satisfied when the website was at least loading and the link was redirecting to the correct information, this approach no longer applies to building products today. The digital landscape puts user experience (UX) at the center, aiming to create an enjoyable and seamless user journey.

The necessity for shaping the design according to customers’ expectations is based on their rising and demanding needs. The statistics reflect that 84% of users estimate the brand based on the overall experience, not just the services or functionality. So, creating a quality product is impossible without paying much attention to user-friendly design.

Building a well-thought-out UI/UX design requires knowledge of the target audience’s preferences and profound design skills. That is why UX designers and researchers are irreplaceable specialists every product team should have. Let’s investigate further what these roles are and what responsibilities they have.

Role of a UX Researcher

A specialist UX researcher, also called a user researcher, suggests an association with a profoundly theoretical field. However, experts in this profession have more practical tasks than it sounds: they learn consumers’ needs and pains and build strategies for shaping the company’s services to solve those pains. Whether you create a product from scratch or redesign an existing one, you should know what your audience expects. Otherwise, your decisions will be based on guessing, which is a high-cost experience.

UX Researcher Responsibilities

A UX researcher’s overall job refers to gathering valuable insights from users and transforming those findings into data. However, the procedure covers more tasks for which the specialists are responsible:

UX Researcher Responsibilities

  • Research planning. This preparation involves discussing business goals with clients and stakeholders, developing a research strategy, choosing tools and methods, and writing survey instructions.
  • Recruiting and collecting data. UX researchers select participants and gather data in qualitative and quantitative ways.
  • Analyzing data. The insights about users’ behaviors and needs get transformed into data-driven solutions.
  • Presenting findings. The research outcomes are shown to design and development teams, and the recommendations the teams should follow to meet customers’ requirements are discussed.

Research Methods

UX researchers learn about user needs and behaviors through various methods. These techniques help to look at customer experience and interaction with the product from different angles.

Research Methods

User Interviews

This qualitative research approach refers to guided discussions with users about their needs, attitudes, motivations, and pains. UX researchers ask particular questions to gather the needed information.


The questionnaires are suited for gathering quantitative data. They include close-ended and open-ended questions and help to establish the customer’s vision of the product.

Usability Testing

This method engages participants to perform actions. When observing the users’ logic, UX researchers can see how intuitive the platform is and what bottlenecks prevent clients from getting the desired result.

Data Analysis

Tons of raw data are not helpful if they are not analyzed. Using a variety of methods, UX researchers scrutinize the information and transform it into data-driven insights.

Crucial Aspects of the UX Researcher Role

Excellent hard skills are not enough for conducting user research. This role requires empathy and an understanding of the human factor. Being compassionate about customers’ pains and needs can help build a truly satisfying user experience through design.

Role of a UX Designer

These specialists make the user journey as seamless and cohesive as possible. They create visually compelling product designs that are attractive, functional, easy to use, and compatible with device requirements. With the help of prototyping and wireframing, UX designers test mockups of the feature design and improve them to the best version.

Some companies assign the UX designer’s tasks to another UX designer. However, this approach is inefficient, as separate specialists who delve into user needs can conduct more in-depth research.

UX Designer Responsibilities

The main goal of a UX designer is to create a UX design that solves customers’ pains and offers unique solutions to their needs. So experts in this field have the following duties:

UX Designer Responsibilities

  • Building architecture. Based on the user personas and user journeys presented by UX researchers, designers build an information architecture that shows the logic and content sequence.
  • Creating prototypes and testing. To understand if the design works well, designers create prototypes of different fidelity levels and test them. User feedback reveals design flaws and gives insights for improvement.
  • Designing visual elements. Even though the visual side is a part of the user interface (UI) designers’ responsibility, UX designers still decide on the typography, imagery, and color schemes.

Designing Process

UX designers must present and test their ideas to create a final, high-quality design. They do this by creating wireframes and prototypes that vary in fidelity.

Designing Process

Sketched Paper Prototypes

To understand the layout, designers create simple sketches, usually with a pen and paper. They show the structure and placement of elements on the page, which is excellent for demonstrating and validating the idea.

Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Designers create monochromatic but more detailed, low-fidelity prototypes when the structure is agreed upon. The drawings are made on the computer and show primary user flows.

High-Fidelity Wireframes

This type demonstrates the most detailed prototypes in color and even with the interaction elements. A high-fidelity prototype will include the majority of features. These mockups allow designers to test product functionality with end users.

Crucial Aspects of the UX Designer Role

UX designers should pay special attention to visual design principles, usability testing, and iteration throughout the design process. By following these recommendations, a compelling and user-friendly UX design can be created.

Difference Between UX Researcher and UX Designer: How They Cooperate

The tasks of both designers and researchers lead to successful design creation. However, it is false to admit that these roles have different scopes of work and thus perform duties separately. To encourage cooperation between these specialists, follow these recommendations:

difference between UX researcher and UX designer

  1. Involve designers in gathering user data. Designers can also participate in interviews and testing sessions to better understand the context. Then, you can cooperate to create more precise user personas and journeys.
  2. Set clear and frequent communication. Encouraging clear communication between researchers and designers is crucial when developing product designs. It helps both teams stay on track.
  3. Support collaboration. UX designers and researchers are partners, not competitors. The project’s success depends on how smoothly they can collaborate.

How UX Researcher and UX Designer Cooperation Influences Product Success

An example of the importance of UX researchers’ collaboration with UX designers is the well-known Airbnb service. In the early stages of its market presence, the company struggled with platform navigation and user trust. During the UX research stage, Airbnb conducted interviews, observations, surveys, and studies on how people interact with the platform.

Customers had a low trust level, which is why they abandoned the site: the booking process was confusing, and mobile compatibility lacked usability.

The research findings led to improvements in the design, which increased user engagement and conversion rates.

Roles of UX Researchers and UX Designers: Which Way to Choose

Even though the global goal of researchers and designers is to create an enjoyable user experience, the approach to performing those jobs is different. Learn more about what skills every role requires and how to learn more about career paths.

UX Researchers and UX Designers: Skills

UX researchers have a combination of skills that allows them to analyze information and build efficient communication with users. This role requires specialists who are easy to communicate with, active listeners, empathetic, creative, curious, design thinkers, collaborative, problem solvers, and have an analytical mindset.

UX designers also need hard and soft skills to operate efficiently. They have to acquire excellent visual and design skills, learn about user research and analysis, know how to wireframe, think critically, be collaborative, communicative, punctual, and ready for continuous improvement.

How to Research the Career Paths

UX researchers’ and designers’ careers differ even though they are both within the realm of UI/UX design. Education starts with graduating in graphic design or cognitive science for both roles. Then, as specialists develop, they must acquire different skills.

For instance, researchers need to master graphic design and follow the latest trends. Researchers need to focus on learning different research methodologies and testing how they work. However, for both roles, networking can become a key to gaining experience and applying for projects.


The success of digital product design is based on two cornerstones: UX research and UX design. These roles are interconnected and go hand in hand. Building design relies on users’ needs, so investigating them is crucial. If you want to create a functional and appealing design for your project, hire UI/UX designers. Share your ideas and requirements, and an experienced team will tailor the processes to your vision of the ideal design.

by Ivan Klyzhenko
UX Startup Advisor, Uitop


Who is a UX researcher?

This specialist’s primary responsibilities are to investigate the target audience’s needs and turn the findings into design solutions.

Who is a UX designer?

This expert builds a design from scratch based on user and business requirements through prototyping, testing, and continuous improvement.

What specialist is more important to the team?

Both roles can not be replaced or combined, as they have different scopes of work. UX researchers connect with end users, while UX designers build a design that responds to customers’ expectations.

Do researchers and designers cooperate?

Cooperation between these specialists is a must! They must communicate and involve each other in the processes to streamline the design development and achieve better results.

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