Resources I used to break into UX Research
Getting started with UX Research? Take a look at this.
When I first learned about UX Research, I immediately fell in love and I decided that it is what I wanted to do upon graduation. Since I’m still a student, I decided one way to get hands-on experience in the field is to do a UX Research internship.
But as I tried to find resources to learn more about UX Research, I got overwhelmed by all the different channels on which I can learn about it.
Are these credible blogs? Am I going to waste my time learning on this website? Should I invest in buying an online course or a book? Do I even need a course? Is this podcast even about user experience? Will any of this apply to industry? Is this going to help me ace my interviews and land a decent internship?
These were all questions that kept popping up in my mind as I navigated my way through different resources that claimed to have UX Research content.
It was quite a challenge for me as a complete beginner to make the tough decision of committing to a book, online course, blog, podcast, you-name-it.
I needed some affirmation that I was doing the right thing.
But you wouldn’t find UX Researchers lying around the corner to seek that from. Especially as a computer science undergraduate in a small liberal arts college in Central Pennsylvania!
Good news is:
You don’t really have to spend any time trying to find good UX Research resources because in this article I will include the ones that I’ve used in order to get to where I am now.
Results speak for themselves…
In less than a year of using these resources to learn all about UX Research from scratch (while going to college full-time for computer science), I was able to land a great UX Research summer internship as an undergraduate.
And here’s how.
Medium was, and definitely still is, my #1 resource for learning about UX.
It has a mature and healthy community of incredibly smart individuals. I do not remember reading a Medium article and thinking “I just wasted 8 minutes of my day.” Medium articles always add value for me.
It is also always up-to-date. Every single day new articles come out. So if you want to stay up-to-date with industry trends or new research methods, Medium should be your go-to resource. There is a ton of Medium publications that you can follow (mentioned later in this article) to always stay up-to-date.
Below are some of the Medium articles I found to be most useful in my learning process. Feel free to pick and choose at will! You don’t have to finish them all in one sitting; you can bookmark this article for future reference.
This is a list of some Medium articles I read throughout learning all about UX Research:
*If you read nothing else, the first 5 articles should be enough to get you started.*
- Becoming a UX researcher: my experience and things I’ve learned along the way
- The (Non-Traditional) Way to Break Into UX Research
- UX Research Guide [For Beginners]
- How to choose a user research method
- Learn UX Research Methods with GIFs
- A Crash Course in UX Design Research
- Get the Most Out of User Research
- Designing Perceptions Instead of Solutions
- How to Stop UX Research being a Blocker
- How Quantitative UX Research Differs from Data Analytics
- The User Researcher’s Field Guide to Psychology
- UX Research is Boring and Nobody Reads It
- 52 Research Terms you need to know as a UX Designer
- Asking the right questions during user research, interviews and testing
- 8 Creative Ways to Share Your User Research
- Rapid UX Research at Google
- Cognitive biases in user research
- Stop doing user interviews. Start having conversations.
- Hey, can you ‘do the UX’ for us?
It’s also quite valuable to gain some UX Design knowledge.
Most of the time UX researchers will work with designers or will need to communicate findings to designers. So it helps a lot if you both speak the same language.
So here are some good articles I read about UX Design:
- Before you can master design, you must first master the fundamentals
- 5 Things You Should Know About UX Design
- So you want to be a UX designer…
- 10 Things That Make a Bad UX Designer
- Storytelling in Design
- Color Theory: Brief Guide For Designers.
- Mobile UX Design: Key Principles
- Don’t Make Me Think: 20 Wise Thoughts about Usability from Steve Krug.
- Top 10 articles about Psychology & UX in 2017 Q4
- Most Common UX Design Methods and Techniques
And finally, here is a list of Medium articles I read to learn how to prepare for and nail my UX Research interviews:
- Crafting Your UX Portfolio
- How to pass a 2-minute UX portfolio screening
- How to make your resume as user-centred as you are
- Your Cover Letter Should Be About Me, Not You
- How to wow me with your UX research portfolio
- Storytelling for a UX research portfolio
- Cracking The UX Researcher Interview
- 46 Interview Questions for User Experience Researchers at Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook
- UX Interviews with Google, Facebook, Twitch, & Slack
Here are some top-notch Medium publications to follow:
This is the most “UX Research-y” publication of all. If there’s one Medium publication that I would recommend for all the UX Research nerds out there, it would definitely be Mixed Methods. They also have an excellent podcast (linked later in the article) and a Slack group that you can join to network with other UX Researchers. Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will be happy to invite you to the slack group.
Curated stories on user experience, usability, and product design. By @fabriciot and @caioab.
Its description says it all “Curated stories on user experience, usability, and product design.” With 200K+ followers, this is one of the biggest Medium UX publications, if not the biggest. A lot of my bookmarks are from there.
Also one of my favorite publications. The nice thing about it is that it has a special page for articles directed towards UX beginners. I really recommend this if you are new to the UX world.
Daily design news, inspiration and deals: Everything you need to supercharge your design skills. (https://prototypr.io)
It encompasses soooo many topics including UX research, UX design, product design, product management, and UI design.
Although, as its name implies, it is more design-oriented, you can still learn more about human-centered design on it. This will definitely help you better empathize with users when doing your UX research.
Nielsen Norman Group
Nielsen Norman Group: UX Training, Consulting, & Research
A leader in the user experience field, NN/g conducts groundbreaking research, trains and certifies UX practitioners…
NN Group is the classic UX website. It was founded in 1998 by the user experience giants Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen — two names that you will continue to encounter the more you learn about this field. Don Norman to user experience like Einstein is to relativity.
The website is simple to navigate (it would be very ironic if it wasn’t) and their articles and videos are easily digestible.
I personally came back to this website over and over when I was learning the basics and main concepts of UX. I also used it a lot when I was preparing for interviews.
If you’re not sure where to start on NN Group, here are some excellent articles that you could read:
- When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods
- UX Research Cheat Sheet
- Design Thinking 101
- Usability 101: Introduction to Usability
These are the two main books that I’ve read:
The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition
The ultimate guide to human-centered design Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which…
Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Voices That Matter)
Since Don't Make Me Think was first published in 2000, hundreds of thousands of Web designers and developers have…
Although these two books are not really too UX Research-centric — meaning they are not written to intentionally cover UX Research concepts or methods — they still cover relevant and valuable concepts that could be used by every UX Researcher.
Some more books that I have not read, but want to read:
- UX Research: Practical Techniques for Designing Better Products
- UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want
- The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide
I have not always been a fan of podcasts, since I usually tend to easily lose focus when the only input is auditory. However, lately, I’ve started getting more into the habit of listening to one or two podcasts per day while doing the dishes or other chores that don’t require any of my attention. A daily commute would also be perfect for listening to podcasts.
Once I started listening to UX research podcasts, I got hooked!
There are some incredible podcasts out there that I would really encourage you to listen to:
Laroche.fm - Design & Business by Eugeniu Esanu on Apple Podcasts
Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of Laroche.fm - Design & Business by Eugeniu Esanu for free.
Mixed Methods by Aryel Cianflone on Apple Podcasts
Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of Mixed Methods by Aryel Cianflone for free.
99% Invisible by Radiotopia on Apple Podcasts
Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of 99% Invisible by Radiotopia for free.
These are the ones that I have personally listened to and really enjoyed, but if you would like more, here’s a list of the best UX podcasts compiled by UserTesting.com.
I was lucky enough to figure out that I wanted to do UX research early on in my undergraduate college career. This allowed me to take the decision of minoring in psychology (cognitive science, to be specific).
Psychology classes helped me understand some basics of how the human mind works, which is needed in this field.
I also took an anthropology class that helped me familiarize myself with some research methods and lingo that is used within the UX research community. So if you are still in college, consider taking, or at least auditing, an anthropology class.
That being said, this does not mean that you have to have taken psychology or anthropology classes in order to successfully break into or even be successful in UX Research. It is just one less thing you will have learn along the way.
If you want to learn more about my journey breaking into UX research, please check out my Medium article:
From computer science to UX Research: recovering from impostor syndrome
After grappling with different majors and classes, I realized my passion lies in a field that combines a lot of what I…
Have you found some good resources to expand your UX knowledge? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below :)
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The beliefs and statements included in this article are my own opinions, and do not necessarily reflect those of my current or previous employers.