Takeaways from My 2020 QRCA Conference Talk: UX Research Is Not a Synonym for Usability Testing

In January 2020, I spoke at the 2020 QRCA Conference in Austin, Texas. The name of my talk was “UX Research Is Not a Synonym for Usability Testing.”

The inspiration for my talk actually came to me immediately while attending the 2019 conference… Sometimes when I introduced myself as a UX researcher to another qualitative researcher, I heard, “I do usability testing, too!” Hhm?

Upon doing a little more digging among online forums and asking my UX research colleagues, I discovered that it’s a common misconception that the terms “UX research” and “usability testing” can be used interchangeably.

Usability testing is just one method among many! My original blog post 28 user research methods—now includes more than 80 research methods, techniques, and metrics.

Not only is usability testing a small part of what UX researchers do on a day-to-day basis, even user research makes up only a portion of the discipline.

Overview of My Talk

In this talk, I covered:

  • What UX researchers do
  • Where UX researchers work (and where UX research happens)
  • How UX researchers work

This high-level talk is designed for market researchers, qualitative researchers, and early career UX researchers who want to experiment with new research methods and techniques in the areas of digital experiences, product design, service design, customer experience, or innovation.

I also gave my point of view about how (or if?) UX and CX intersect—plus showed lots of visuals and examples. Attendees of my talk also learned how to conduct a product research method called “Kano Analysis.”

(Shout out and thank you to Rachel Wang, my QRCA reporter on the scene, for the thoughtful write-up about my talk!)

UX Research Resources for Beginners

If you’re just getting started in the field of UX or UX research or want to learn more, here’s a list of resources I assembled:

UX Terminology

Word cloud of research terms

UX terms & acronyms – Google Sheet
UX Word of the Day

UX Research Methods

User research methods – alphabetical list
User research methods – by research goal
Non-user research methods

UX Research Deliverables

UX research deliverables – alphabetical list
UX research deliverables – by goal

UX & UX Research Books

UX books from my own library

Start here:

  • Human Factors in Systems Engineering by Alphonse Chapanis
    The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  • Measuring the User Experience by Thomas S Tullis and William Albert
  • Understanding Your Users by Kathy Baxter, Catherine Courage, and Kelly Caine
  • Build Better Products by Laura Klein

More books I love & recommend

UX & UX Research Blogs


UX Research Tools

UX research tools – curated by me
UX research tools – curated by Kate Towsey

UX Career Tips

UX career options
How I changed careers from journalist to UX researcher
How to get real-world UX experience without going back to school

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Author: Kristine Remer

Kristine Remer is a CX insights leader, UX researcher, and strategist in Minneapolis. She helps organizations drive significant business outcomes by finding and solving customer problems. She never misses the Minnesota State Fair and loves dark chocolate mochas, kayaking, escape rooms, and planning elaborate treasure hunts for her children.