What is UXR?

By Jasmine Jiang

UW/UX Waterloo
4 min readMar 8, 2024


💭 Intro to User Experience Research

User experience research (UXR) is the process of studying the behaviours, needs, and emotions of end users. UXR leverages those findings to enhance the experiences of physical and digital products, services, and applications. User experience (UX) and UXR are often used interchangeably, and many people don’t know the exact differences between the two, but they are both huge components that make up a product. UXR is also a field that is less widely known compared to UX design, but they play equally important roles in the design process and in creating a good end product.

🕵️ UX vs UXR

To start, let’s take a look at how UXR differentiates from UX. While UX design focuses on the feel of a product, UXR is focused on the research behind why users might behave a certain way. UXR seeks to figure out firstly, who the user of the product is, and what their needs are. The findings that come from UX research can help make informed decisions based on data about actual customers and users, and this can help increase productivity, sales, revenue, and of course, the user experience and satisfaction.

📝 Uses of UXR

The main purpose of UXR is to make data driven decisions. UX researchers help companies learn about their users, and in turn learn about how they feel about certain products and services or to learn about what customers and users might be looking for in new products. UX research is the only way to confirm that your product or solution is solving the right problem and in the right way, and being able to make decisions off of real users and customers allows for teams to then pinpoint exact pain points or new ideas. UXR is the best way to make sure your team is on the right track to avoid accidentally investing too much time or money into the wrong solution.

🎨 The Design Process

You may be familiar with the term ‘The Design Process’, which is commonly used to guide designers through a series of steps to create functional and usable solutions. There are different approaches to the design process including the ‘Double Diamond’ method, or the 5 step model of the ‘IDEO’ method. Within these, where does UX research fit? The answer is, UX research can be applied at any stage of the design process to improve the solution. UX researchers often start with qualitative research early on in the design process in order to determine the motivations and needs of the user. This is evident in the ‘research/insight’ diamond when looking at the ‘Double Diamond’ method, and the ‘define/ideate’ stages of the IDEO method. Later on during prototyping, UX research can become more quantitative in order to measure results and test their prototypes. However, any time designers or engineers need insight or knowledge in order to make or back up a decision, they can turn to UX research.

🌱 Benefits of UX Research

While it’s pretty clear that one of the main benefits of conducting UX research is making informed decisions, theres a couple other really great things that come with it too.

Firstly, making decisions based off of UX research allows you to confidently make UX decisions. Having the knowledge that your decisions are validated and agreed upon by real people impacted by your solution, you are empowered to confidently move forward with your work as a designer or engineer.

Secondly, ongoing UX research cultivates a sense of empathy throughout your company for users. It’s easy sometimes to lose track of the end goal when you’re deep in the design-prototype-rinse-repeat cycle, but having ongoing UX research ensures that you are always keeping users at the forefront and staying on track.

Lastly, UX research stops you from wasting time and energy. Sometimes the best solution to a problem is no solution at all, and trying to create products or services for them only complicates the problem and makes it worse. UX research gives insight on whether or not users actually want to use a solution that a company has implemented, and if not, where their efforts would be better off focusing on.

💫 Conclusion

Overall, User Experience Research is an indispensable part of the design process. UX researchers work side by side with UX designers to create user-centered solutions, and companies on any scale would suffer with the loss of one or the other. In the growing product field UXR is an integral part of what makes one company’s solutions stand out over everyone else’s. By consistently making use of UX research, teams can deliver more efficient and effective solutions that bridge the gap between usability and enjoyment.

What’s Next?

Although this article has been primarily focused on UX research and how it differs from things like UX design, the overall design process is equally reliant on multiple different fields. For more information on how to get into UX design, visit our medium article here! If you’re more familiar with UX and product design, feel free to check out our article featuring 3 product designers breaking down their portfolio here for more portfolio tips and tricks.

Our Instagram offers a quick guide to different UXR methods, and the specific post can be found here. Although this is by no means a comprehensive list, if you’re interested in diving deeper into how to get into UX Research yourself or learning more about the details of the process, feel free to check out these external articles and guides as well:



UW/UX Waterloo

UW/UX is a student organization committed to growing the user experience and product design community at the University of Waterloo.