UX Research vs. UX Design

George Molina
Product Manager
Read Time
2 min read
Published On
July 7, 2016

The smartphone revolution has led to an explosion in digital applications and web experiences. With this, considering the many new digital experiences for users, interaction and design has never been more important. User Experience (UX) refers to the overall experience of a person using a product or service, especially in terms of how easy and even delightful it is to use. UX can broadly be divided into two categories: UX Research and UX Design. While they are related, there are some distinctions between these two disciplines.

UX Research

Focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation, task analysis and other feedback methodologies.

UX Design

Refers to the process of creating a good user experience. In other words, it’s the process used to determine what the experience will be like when a user interacts with your product.

UX Research focuses more on analyzing and understanding user behaviors while UX Design focuses more on using understandings and insights gained in the UX Research phase to design the user’s experience. This doesn’t mean that the two can’t overlap.  Whether you’re focused on the research or the design portion of User Experience, a part of understanding your responsibilities lies in understanding the other side too.

​In some settings, the two are viewed as part of the many hats a designer can wear rather than two independent roles, typically true for startups or environments with limited resources.

Main Activities and Deliverables

UX Research Activities and Deliverables

  • Run Usability tests
  • Define User Personas
  • Create Journey Maps
  • Design A/B test and monitor results
  • Conduct and analyze outcomes of user studies
  • ​Conduct User Interviews

UX Design Activities and Deliverables

  • Create ‘User Stories/ Product Requirements
  • Create low fidelity and high-fidelity Wireframes
  • Create Prototypes, templates and (sometimes) front end HTML/CSS
  • Build Task flow diagrams
  • Develop Information Architecture
  • Develop Interface designs and design mock-up
  • ​Define and validate conversion goals and Key Performance Indicators for performance of the product

Tools of the Trade

UX Research Tools

UX Design Tools


User Research and User Design can be often integrated which makes it hard to distinguish their characteristics, but we hope this helps shed some light and clears any confusion about the two.