Research Misconceptions

First Designer In:
Misconceptions About UX Research

Research = talking to users

❌ Nope. You don’t have to talk to users to have done your research.

A research project’s goal is to validate a hypothesis. Sometimes you can do that with existing knowledge. Talking to users isn't always required.

Research = usability testing

❌ Nope. Usability testing is one of many types of research.

Others include: discovery research, internal validation, user data analysis, audits of existing knowledge, and more.

Research = takes too long

❌ Nope. It can be as fast or slow as it needs to be.

A full-on user study can take a while, but it’s not always required. A hypothesis can often be validated through other means.

UX Research is a Project

A research project is an umbrella term for any number of activities which are all performed to validate a single hypothesis. Only some of these are user studies which require talking to users. In other words, a project encompasses all forms of data gathering, various types of validation, and all user studies.

Example Valid Research Project


Users are dropping out of cart checkout


Unknown. Pricing? A technical issue?


Identify the cause of drop-off

Research Activities

  1. Collect usage analytics

  2. Review support tickets about issues with checkout

  3. Ask sales about any pricing conversations or other grievances

  4. Identify any patterns, and form a hypothesis about the cause


Checkout completion dropped after we made an update to the backend which slowed the page load by a lot. Support heard lots of complaints about this, and the analytics support the claim. Sales didn’t have any concerns about pricing, so it’s unlikely that’s a compounding factor.

Project Time

4 hours

User Interviews


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