UX in a company: UX Researcher vs. UX Designer

4 Mar 2020

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Journal / JPG / Dymitr Romanowski - avatar
Dymitr Romanowski
Product Designer, Head of Design

The article is a continuation of the UX topic in a company. The first article is about the value of UX in business. Zero banalities. Meat alone.

UX researcher vs. UX designer

As the names suggest, a UX researcher researches and a UX designer designs. A UX researcher searches and highlights which errors  or problems of the product or service should be corrected, from the users perspective. A designer designs a solution. He works based on the researcher's results and a set of product requirements.

There are specialists who try to combine both functions but it’s very difficult to find a universal specialist. They are like tigers, an endangered species. Usually one area of ​​competence clearly outweighs the other. Either they are a good researcher or a good designer. Therefore, saving and employing one person to combine both roles in the organization has an impact on who saves, i.e. the company and its owners.

Separating the functions of the researcher and designer has another advantage. A designer who researches immediately thinks how he would solve the problem. He may be impatient, which means he is not looking for sufficiently deep errors and areas to optimize. A UX designer who is a researcher may be biased. This means that, willingly or unwillingly, he constructs the research for his thesis and conducts the interview in order to direct the respondent.

Not every researcher will be a good UX researcher right away. But a researcher with a specialized education and experience in a research company is a more reliable candidate than a researcher who cannot boast about that level of experience on their CV.

It should be remembered that UX research is primarily qualitative, not quantitative. They require the skills of conducting in-depth interviews and conducting focus and workshop groups. The researcher should be distinguished by emotional intelligence and the ability to lead the group and manage its dynamics.

Not every designer will be a good UX designer right away. As for me, I am looking for UX designers for analytical thinking and an elemental engineer, not ones with the Academy of Fine Arts on their résumé.

Due to my role at The Story, I perform several interviews with candidates applying for UX researcher and UX designer positions.

I remember talking to a person who tried to combine the skills of a researcher and designer. I asked him about how to run the workshop with the group.

He replied: "Normal. I introduce the group to the topic, and then we fly with cards. " I asked the candidate if he had missed the planned workshop time, did not implement the entire workshop plan, and if so, how did he manage it.

The answer was equally disarming: "It has never happened to me." The workshop is not about "flying with cards". In addition, I have not yet met a professional facilitator who would say that he always achieves goals with the group within the scheduled time.

UX is treacherous. The research and design process seems to be simple. Tools that are easy to find on the internet look simple, and the professions of the UX researcher and UX designer easy to achieve.

The simplicity of UX tools is not due to the ease of the method. Simplicity comes from the necessity for members of the group who have different levels of education and experience to understand the tasks they will need to complete in a moment.

HR recruiter? Receptionist? Graphic designer? Motion designer? Of course they can become a UX researcher or UX Designer, but they must go a long way. Behind the fast career of a UX researcher is usually sociological and psychological education and experience in research. Behind the career of a UX Designer - engineer, architect, applied designer.
 

UXOps or DesignOps, taking into account the work of User Experience researchers

DevOps, a compact concept in the IT industry, gave birth to the concept of DesignOps. DesignOps is a set of practices and procedures that facilitates the operational management of the design team. I propose introducing the concept of UXOps as the name for operational management of the team consisting of researchers and designers. In our company, we have selected many areas from where we build UXOps and facilitate the work of our design teams. I will present some of them.

 

Naming convention. How many times have you seen generic names in the project that say nothing? How many times have you been struck by designer files with names in the "copy copy", "copy copy copy"?

In each project, a naming convention should be agreed and adopted, which the team then implements. The same names for tasks should be used in all project management programs, schedules, reports, etc. The derived convention should dictate the names of the artboards and layers used in the design programs.

Standardization of work tools. Did you meet with a designer who chose only those tools that were more convenient for him? Or have you come across a researcher who uses different tools in each project and spreads the collected knowledge between PowerPoint, Excel, Google Docs, a company inbox, and a private inbox?

This is one of the worst things that can happen to the UX team. This means the employees differ in their work culture, organization, and beliefs as to how to perform the tasks. The well-known brand of the previous employer does not guarantee that it was a well-organized company. In the meantime, it should be convenient for the company and the team as a whole.

Knowledge of the process by team members. Do you use agile and rely on self-organizing bands? Or maybe you are choosing a military culture where nothing happens without an order? Regardless of the organizational culture, knowledge of the process - what follows, who depends on what during implementation - significantly facilitates project management and increases team motivation.

Systematization of good practices. Good practices reported by the team should be validated and entered into the knowledge base. The team leader should systematize knowledge and disseminate it throughout the team.

Startkit. Each project contains repetitive processes and activities. Instead of repeating them, we use startkit, which is a set of default tools that we will need during implementation. You treat workplaces like a car workshop - the right configuration and placement are important - tools should be positioned in the right compartments at the right distances. When this is done properly work is faster and smoother.
 

UX researcher vs. UX Designer. DesignOps. Summary

  1. A researcher and a designer can design. UX, like any other field, develops and has its specialties.
  2. Regardless of what projects the UX team implements, the best practices and knowledge they collect should be properly used by managers. Otherwise, the company is exposed to the risk of loss and unreasonable costs.
  3. By buying and selling UX, you buy and sell value expressed in knowledge. If a company cannot manage knowledge, it will be difficult to manage UX.
Journal / JPG / Dymitr Romanowski - avatar
Dymitr Romanowski
Product Designer, Head of Design
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