Image credits: Prince Pal (https://think360studio.com/ux-research-first-step-ux-strategy-start-launch-product/)

Isn’t Research Skill Important For Being A Good Experience Designer?

A Reflection On Paul Boag’s Great Article


Since I started my study in Human-Centered Design and looked into Experience Design job market, I have noticed the skill that I have deeply believed should be the most crucial skill for delivering great experience design is not commonly emphasized in experience designer’s job descriptions. As you can tell from reading my old post, this observation brought shock, confusion, and fear to that ignorant me. Recently, I re-read my post. While I noticed the shock, confusion and fear that I had at that time, I started to asking myself, why did you care about identifying problems skill that much? do you still think so?

After I became a little bit more knowledgeable on Experience Design, and can articular myself better, I figured out, when I said “problem”, I meant “needs”.

Why do I define “identifying needs” as the top priority skill that I should focus on? It depended on my understanding of Experience Design. So, you may wonder what is my understanding of Experience Designer’s role? All the contributors in this field and related fields helped me form my understanding. Among all of the descriptions and demonstrations I have read, heard, saw, and tried, after thinking through, I realized the definition attracted me the most is — to delivery experience. (And it heavily influenced me to commit to it as a career)

I, then, started to thinking “what experience?”

I can’t stop myself thinking that the core skills of experience designer are 1) the ability of accurately identifying problems, and 2) creatively solving those problems to improve user experience, going beyond simply making things prettier. I keep asking myself — Whether Design is a process of Problem Solving? Should problem research, the most crucial part in problem solving process, be one of responsibilities of designers? Should I spend more time on practicing research/problem identifying skill while I work on sharpen my visual design skills? And my answer to all the questions above is YES.


I love good visual design, but think research is even more crucial in design.

I love good visual design, but research is even more crucial in the design as it defines the design direction and requirements, leading design thinking and decision-making. For example, before we take actions on good visual design more as an approach that is built upon a well designed solution for making users more engaged to the product, rather than a solution used to directly heal the pain — beautiful interface can definitely drive users’ attention but won’t create effective impact on customer retention.

Organizations tend to separate research role from design role, making whole lot sense from specialization of knowledge and business efficiency perspectives. people may argue that designers can explore solutions based on the data given by researchers. But I think there is difference between designing by using given data and by conducting own research due to the various possible interpretations of research data. A huge advantage of conducting own research is that the designer has the context that helps him/her in interpretation. Another benefit is that the designer has direct contact with the targeting users, who can ensure the interpretation accuracy and provide more information when it’s needed.

I do think visual design is important in product design, but I see good visual design more as an approach that is built upon a well designed solution for making users more engaged to the product, rather than a solution used to directly heal the pain — beautiful interface can definitely drive users’ attention but won’t create effective impact on customer retention.

Yes. Bad tasting cake with beautiful frosting and colorful sparkles will attract traffic for sure; however, there will be a little chance for buyers to eat the whole cake, re-purchase it again, and help the cake shop advertise the product and win reputation for free through the world of mouth. Therefore, since right design can only be built upon a well-defined problem, the ability to identify problem should be defined a critical criterion for being a good designer.


Thank you all for spending time reading my post. I’ve been reading articles on Medium for a while, but this is my first article on this great platform. I’m a learner who aims for becoming an expert in UX field and wants to consistently learn and practice for reaching that goal. Please feel free to share any feedback, comment, or opinion with me. It would be a wonderful learning process for me!

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