Front-end to UX - how to develop research skills



Hey everyone! So I am a front-end dev looking at going into UX design as I really want to interact with people more and do research! Find out why they are doing things and how I can translate that into better products! Anyway, I have design skills and HTML/CSS skills, but I am really lacking in the whole user testing, conducting research department. Plus, without that bit of experience and therefore, confidence, approaching my boss and the company to try some of these things out is a bit of a big ask I think.

Any tips on how I can develop these skills? Things I should be reading and doing?

Entry-Level Web Designer/Developer/Marketer - Want to Get Into UX Design

Usability Testing is actually pretty easy to get a hang of. I’d recommend reading’s article on usability testing.

I think the only way of developing your research skills is by conducting research! Nielsen Norman Group and have a plethora of information and very useful templates. (Equipment checklists, consent forms, etc)

Edit: Just searching Usability Testing on google and reading the articles + watching videos should inform you plenty :slight_smile:


As a former front-end dev, I recommend also reading up and learning analytics as well.


You can read and prepare all you want, but there’s no substitute for experience. You’re using a totally different set of skills to front end dev, so like a muscle, u need to work on these skills. Your first few sessions might go catastrophically bad, and that’s ok, so long as you keep trying and learning, you’ll be ok.

Now having said that, here’s a few things to try

  • watch YouTube videos and listen to podcasts on ux experts conducting interviews. Steve krug has some good ones
  • read books on usability testing and asking the right interview questions. The books by tomer Sharon and Steve portigal I’ve found useful
  • attend local ux meetups/workshops for learning and networking to see how others do it
  • write a discussion guide/ test script. Just start it, it will change as you learn more
  • recruit someone, anyone, and practice
  • rope in a notetaker or invest in good screen recording software
  • do it again, and again! Update discussion guide as u learn. The more you do, the more data you have to interpret and identify trends from. And keep asking questions, we’re all here to help each other!


Hello @lee_pearson

Glad to hear that you are excited to learn more about UX Research. Let start by defining what do we mean by research in design and why do we do it in the first place.

As you might have heard, designers often talk and apply the UCD and Design Thinking Process.

As explained in the above article, the first step in the design process to really understand our users and inform the design process from the perspective of end users to clear out our misconceptions, biases, and prejudices about our user’s pain points, motivation, needs, and behavior. Research that prevents us from designing for one user. i.e ourselves.

Most of the development is about communicating with fellow developers, most of the designer’s work is about communicating with end users.

The research methods are categorized under two main sections: Secondary Research and Primary Research methods that collect either quantitative data or qualitative data.

Quantitative data focus on accurate numbers and measurements while Qualitative data focus on the opinions, experience, and non-measurable information.

Secondary Research
This kind of research is also called as “Desk Research” and is often used when there is not much time to go into the field and talk to people or the budget is very less. This includes reading online articles, blogs, research papers, statistics which provide a quick understanding of users needs and behaviors around a certain topic.

Primary Research
This is the kind of research wherein a deeper level of empathy is generated by talking and observing people. There are many ways to conduct primary user research such as User Interviews, Contextual Inquiry, surveys etc. But we will talk about the most commonly used methods of user interviews in this article.

User Interviews
To gain empathy towards people, design thinkers often engage with users through user interviews.
They can cover almost all user-related topics and be used, for example, to gather information on users’ feelings, motivations, and daily routines, or how they use various products.

“Converse like a talk show host, think like a writer, understand subtext like a psychiatrist, and have an ear like a musician” - Lawrence Grobel

In user interviews, a designer questions people that use a product and records their answers. The nature of the questions depends on the intent of the research, but the main goal is to extract user insights that can be used for product ideation and improvement.

UX designers may be tempted to draw design conclusions from personal insights and experiences.
User interviews are an affordable resource that helps designers avoid this tendency and maintain an important mindset:

“I’m designing for the user. The user is not me.”

How to conduct user interviews and build empathy?
•Have a conversation rather than an “interview” and ask users to tell stories rather than yes/ no answers.
•Ask What, How and Why. (This helps in finding out the root of the problem)
•Ask follow – up questions. (semi-structured interviews)
•Do not say leading statements. (Let them break the silence)
•Do not ask about future or solutions. (Users have no idea about the future)

At this stage of your transition to a UX researcher, you can take a subject/topic for research from the company where you are working in and follow these activities:

1.Identify your audience (minimum 3-4 interviews per person)
2.Prepare questionnaire for you audience and conduct interviews and record your interviews. (Use phone recorder)
3.After taking the interviews, break longer statements to small phrases. Write one phrase on one sticky note.

Once you are done with this, you can analyze your research to generate user personas and come up with insights. You can create a ppt and present this to certain stakeholders in the company.

Here are some very useful resources around UX Design Research:

  1. You are not the user
  2. How to ask a question
  3. What is User Research?
  4. Sampling User Experience
  5. UX Research Case Study | TasteBuddy helps you make healthy food
  6. UX Research Case Study | Making Children more responsible through Mixed Reality

Hope the article will help you jumpstart your career as a UX Researcher, do share any other queries you have regarding Digital UI/ UX Design, Human Computer Interaction and Design Research :slight_smile:



Thanks so much everyone for all the info! A lot to delve into, research (the irony) and get my teeth stuck in to! I am genuinely excited about all of this, it feels like this may be the fit I have been looking for in my career! I am sure I will be back with more questions soon enough!


Awesome. I wish you all the best for future and do share any questions which come in your mind on this journey. :smiley: