8 Skills UX Researchers Need

8 Skills UX Researchers Need

UX Researchers draw on a complex set of skills to be impactful in their work.  The following are 8 must-have skills that will help UX researchers accomplish their main goal of creating great user experiences.

1.  Think Globally

Thinking broadly helps you look across multiple dimensions of the design problem that you are helping to solve.  Remember – you are not your user.  In fact, your user and you may have absolutely nothing in common.

2. Plan, Plan, Plan

Preparation is key.  Planning allows you to be flexible if things go awry since you’ve already thought about how to overcome potential obstacles.  You don’t have to get prepared if you are already prepared.

3. Time Management

Time management begins with assessing whether the questions being asked are the most valuable and impactful for the team and users.  Then, prioritize research projects accordingly.  Also, make time to empower others and to focus on your own development.

4. Collaboration & Socialization

Collaboration is key.  Socialize research, bring stakeholders with you.  Teach how to ask powerful questions.  This broadens the reach and impact of the research.  It may also lighten your load and strengthen your research safety net when there’s high demand for research.

5. Communication

Collaboration and socializing research depend on communication.  Listen to what your team, colleagues and clients are saying and process it before you respond.  That help you focus on the real message rather than reacting without thinking.

6. Critical Thinking

Ask easy questions.  Ask hard questions.  Ask good questions.  Data isn’t always easily understood.  Thinking critically about all data and their sources – this includes stakeholders – makes you a better informed and prepared researcher.

7. Flexibility

Things will go wrong.  Methods won’t always be perfect.  Resources aren’t always available.  And that’s okay.  If you can’t find a way, find a compromise to make good enough research happen.  Bend so you don’t have to break.

8. Be Kind to Yourself

Reflect, recover – then act.  You are a human who is taking in a lot of others’ emotions.  Schedule reflection and recovery time.  Don’t over work yourself:  you, the data, and the project will not benefit otherwise.

UX Researchers who have both wide and deep knowledge at the same time and who have mastered these skills are able to work outside of their comfort zones, develop high performing teams and ultimately drive meaningful experiences for users.

Written by:  Zoey Ryu, Senior Associate Human-Centered Design with Lextant and  Carolyn Morgan, a UX Researcher at OCLC.  This content was originally created for IxDA Columbus in April 2020.