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Live webinar recap of the state of user research 2023 report blog header image

Behind the Scenes Recap: The State of User Research 2023 Survey and Report

ICYMI, here’s a recap of our live webinar on the State of User Research 2023 Report. Get access to the full on-demand video and slide deck.

If you haven’t heard yet, we recently launched our fifth annual State of User Research Report for 2023. Each year, we learn new insights and key trends about the current state of user research and the people who do it. 

This year, we launched a live, virtual webinar to provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the report came to life, hosted by Erin May, the SVP of Marketing and Growth at User Interviews, and the main creators of the report, Katryna Balboni, the Head of Creative Content & Special Projects at User Interviews, and Morgan Mullen, the Lead UX Researcher at User Interviews.

Feeling FOMO for the live discussion? No worries, we’ve prepared a full video recording of the event with a copy of the slide deck for those who couldn’t attend the event—or if you’re simply curious to learn more about how the User Interviews team pulled off the report.

In this event, we covered:

  • 🔎 Insider perspectives: How this essential industry survey was designed, distributed, analyzed, and turned into an engaging report; how the process has evolved over the years; the lessons we learned; and the ways we’re planning to improve and iterate in 2024.
  • 💡 Key takeaways: The creators’ favorite, most illuminating insights and why they matter.
  • Q&A with the creators: A discussion on 2023 trends, the creator's opinions on using AI, surprising insights from the report, and more.

📘 Haven’t seen the full report yet? Dive into the User Interviews State of User Research 2023 Report.

📽️ Watch the full webinar, on-demand

✨Get on-demand access to the full webinar video recording, and explore more exciting webinars and events on the User Interviews webinar page.

📎 Bookmark your own copy of the full webinar slide deck to follow along.

Event timestamps

[5:58] How the State of User Research Report has evolved over the years

[12:37] Explaining the process of creating SOUR 2023

[15:18] The tools we used for the report

[15:56] Challenges and lessons learned from SOUR 2023

[24:53] Key takeaways of the report

[44:53] Q&A session

The evolution of the State of User Research report

To kick off the event, we laid out some context—especially for the viewers who have only heard about the report for the first time this year. We started with a walk down memory lane of how the state of user research has evolved from 2019 until now. 

📈 Since 2019, the State of User Research report has grown with:

  • 5.5x more qualified responses
  • 58% fewer folks reporting 0 UXRs
  • 2.6x more UXR tools in the landscape

As the scale of the report has grown over the years, so has the team effort to bring the key insights to life. It’s important that we give credit where credit is due to those who helped collaborate on the report this year. Without each helping hand, this report would not have been made possible.

The State of User Research 2023 Report was—

…designed, analyzed, and written by:

…with help from:

Step-by-step process of creating the report

Next, we dove into each step that went into creating the actual report, from brainstorming meetings to analyzing survey data and publishing our insights. Each step required collaboration between various teams, and the whole process took a few months to complete.

Here’s what an oversimplified version of the process looks like:

  1. Host kickoff meetings to align
  2. Survey script development and iteration
  3. Survey programming and QA
  4. Field to participants
  5. Analysis and reviews
  6. Drafting the report and visuals
  7. Finalizing the report and publishing

⚒️ And of course, for each step of the process, we used handy UX research tools to help us streamline our work. Katryna and Morgan named a few of the main tools they used for the report, including:

  • Mode and Google Sheets for data analysis 
  • SurveyMonkey to run the survey
  • Flourish, Figma, and Adobe to design the visual assets (charts, images, graphs)

Needless to say, a report of this size came with a lot of data and respondents. There were many small steps that made up each phase of the project, but each tool really helped smooth over the process for the team.

🏰 Explore the fantastical landscape of UX research tools in the 2022 UX Research Tools Map

✉️ Want to get notified when we release the 2023 Tools Map? Subscribe to Fresh Views to get updates directly to your inbox.

Reflecting on lessons learned from the state of user research in 2023

Putting together a huge survey and report like the State of User Research report comes with many fresh opportunities to learn new things. After explaining the process of creating the report, Morgan and Katryna dove into some moments of reflection on some challenges and lessons learned throughout the entire process of going through this project.

Some of the challenges experienced by the team that turned into lessons learned include:

Challenge #1: There are a lot of tools people use in the UX industry. The more tools mean more tooling questions and unorganized data about UX research tools.

💡 Lesson learned: In the future, find a more digestible way to organize and analyze large amounts of data about tools.

Challenge #2: For open-response salary questions, people talk about salary differently from place to place. With more interpretations comes more potential for bias and error in the analysis. 

💡 Lesson learned: Be more specific with salary questions, ask about annual income in local currencies, and convert currency rates ourselves.

Challenge #3:The bigger the report gets, the more difficult it gets to do more advanced work without asking for help.

💡 Lesson learned: The more collaboration, the better. Bringing in more collaborators across the team and partnering with other organizations to reach new audiences was a huge help to the success of this report.

Key takeaways of the report

The User Interviews team learned a lot of lessons from this report, but that’s not all. A big chunk of this webinar was dedicated to the golden nugget insights the team came up with after this months-long project.

Morgan and Katryna explained each insight surrounding hot-button topics in the industry, like remote work, the democratization of research, AI in UX research, tools and more.

Here are a few insights from the report that the creators explained during the live webinar:

  • Fully remote work is on the decline. 
  • UX researchers showed the least favorable sentiment around the democratization of research compared to other groups like Research Operations or PwDRs.
  • 20% of UX researchers are using AI for research, and 38% are planning to use it in the future.

Q&A session

After providing some context around each key insight, the rest of the webinar was an open space for Q&As. Here are some interesting questions people had about the State of User Research report and the insights:

What are some of the most surprising results or insights?

Morgan: “I guess maybe I was surprised and saddened by the fact that I think researchers showed the lowest sentiment in terms of outlook on the industry at large. It makes sense given the climate we’re in. So I think that one wasn’t maybe surprising, but it made me feel a little sad for my function. 
And I think one that was surprising for me was just the move back in-person from remote work or more hybrid, but still not seeing a ton of gains in in-person research. I think in-person research is really critical and can be so valuable in answering± questions.”
Katryna: “I think not surprising, but super interesting was just how prevalent general-use tools are in people’s stacks. I mean, it makes sense. Most companies have those tools already—there’s just broader coverage. But a lot of these tools that we think of obviously as a research tool in this space we think of as big players, like actually the number of people using any one solution for user research is really spread out. So there is a lot of spread between the testing tools that people are using, for instance.
Perhaps more surprising was the AI—definitely anecdotally and qualitatively hearing the conversations around it. There are people who are nervous about it, maybe are a little bit more vocal than the people who are adopting it. In my mind, I was expecting that number to be a lot smaller, that fewer people were adopting this, that more people had serious reservations, and I think that's not what showed up in the data.”

In the macro environment, there are some layoffs happening, there is AI, there are some democratization predictions. What are you most interested to see play out in the future?

Morgan: “If only we had a crystal ball…I’m interested to see how democratization and research team growth investment changes, if at all over time. I’ll be interested to see companies start to invest again in their research teams and bring people back. I think if we sort of see stagnation there, maybe I’ll be a little more scared. Do the amount of roles I see for researchers specifically shift and change over time? And then with AI, that’s one I’ll be watching. Are there going to be more robust tools built specifically in the research world?”
Katryna: “I’m definitely really interested to see how—not if, because it is inevitable—but how the metropole sort of shifts out of the U.S…I think we are a few steps ahead than say like a lot of companies in Europe where it’s like a less mature industry and where a lot of the conversations that maybe we’ve been having in the U.S. are starting to happen, and then elsewhere definitely in the world.
A lot of companies are shifting operations to the global south, but also a lot of companies that are growing—here in Mexico for instance, I see a lot of UX jobs popping up, a lot of growing startups in places like South Korea, and all of that together—what does the next phase of user research look like? As the industry matures in other places, is it going to mature in the same way? I think that will be really interesting to see and hopefully lead to an increasing level of diversity in the field and approaches. 
When you have a lot of the research, insights, and trends being driven by one major market, maybe we’re losing sight of other really important things. I’m looking forward to seeing more and more international representation in our survey data. We are a U.S.-based company, but we operate in a global context.”

Stay up-to-date with the state of user research

We hope that you found a few useful insights from the State of User Research 2023 report, or at least gained some insight into what goes into creating a report of this caliber. 

As the UX landscape continues to evolve, we’ll continue to monitor each change, whether immediate or long-term, to get a better big-picture understanding of how the entire industry is shifting over time.

Want to keep a more continuous pulse on the state of user research? Here are some more resources to help you keep up with the industry on a regular basis:

Rachell Lee
Copywriter at Seamless.AI

Rachell is a SEO Copywriter at Seamless.AI and former Content Marketing Manager at User Interviews. Content writer. Marketing enthusiast. INFJ. Inspired by humans and their stories. She spends ridiculous amounts of time on Duolingo and cooking new recipes.

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