Why ID, UX, Service, and Interaction Designers Make Great “Researchers”

I’ve been asked many times how I feel about leaving my role as a designer and moving into user experience research. My answer is always the same in that it was quite natural! I am still able to utilize most of my skill sets and methodologies founded in product development and apply them to the creative UX research and consulting role I lead today. Let me talk you through a few different ways we’ve found designers to be successful in the research world of user experience:

We Have Empathy with the Designers Whose Work We Are Evaluating

Having designers conduct the research helps our clients feel comfortable passing over their concept or product no matter what state it is in. We encourage early and iterative testing to fail fast, fail often, and to constantly be reminded of the user’s needs and opinions. Knowing how to read a wireframe, storyboard, or even refine an Axure prototype before a study in order to ensure the best results is an invaluable benefit to clients who are in an iterative ongoing engagement with us (we call this service offering “Applied Insights”).

We Consider Ourselves Design Researchers and/or UX Architects

We consider ourselves “design researchers” as we are not only running a usability study, but also providing design and UX suggestions on the backend of our findings. Sometimes, our deliverables are not a report at all and instead a mind map (or affinity map), followed by information architecture and/or design recommendations visually illustrated for our clients. This is why our research is much more consultative in nature and really fluid in the ways we would evaluate our own designs with the goal of refining them to the optimal user experience.

The Same People Who Conduct the Research Can Host the Brainstorming Session

Consistency is a great thing to have if you are starting out a new product/service venture, want to improve on a product that exists today, or desire new ideas for your company. Having the same people who conduct the preliminary research with end-users also be the ones who create and facilitate the brainstorming sessions saves both of us time. We know not only your goals and objectives, but can also bring the empathy that we have with the users to the table. Meanwhile, you benefit from a shorter timeline between research and ideation (not to mention the level of understanding one cannot replace with reading a project or research brief before ideation). Obviously it doesn’t stop at ideation. As designers by training, we can even head into the rapid prototyping and design phase with your team!

We are Curious by Nature

The majority of what we do and believe in is qualitative research. Instead of multiple choice, yes or no, or scaling questions, we listen and look at the way a user responds to specific tasks or overall experiences. This way we can ask follow up questions, especially if the person didn’t feel genuine in their “I like it” or “Sure that’s fine…”. We can also take the time to observe gestures while using a mobile concept and probe on things we see and are never mentioned by the users. This sort of observational research (combined with usability and overall UX) makes the findings much more valuable to our clients, who are often the designers themselves.

Interested in applying your design skill sets to our full service research and design team? Contact us at .

If you’re interested in engaging in an iterative design and research relationship with us, please click here to learn more about our service “Applied Insights” or get in touch with us either at or 770.391.1099