Our exciting metamorphosis


It's ironic. Those of us who work in UX, user researchers included, aspire to create terrific user experiences. That’s what we do. But what we have done with our own terminology is to create a mess.

This is because our industry is new. We've borrowed terms from marketing, anthropology, design, human factors, psychology and other domains. We haven’t found a common voice, yet.

We are in the midst of an exciting metamorphosis.

Meanwhile, confusion reigns. Depending on whether you come from marketing, design, product management or marketing research, you likely use language differently. When we try to work together, we’re rarely 100% certain a colleague is using a term or phrase in the same way we would. So it takes more time and effort to get on the same page, and occasionally it might take days or weeks to figure out we are not. This has many negative ramifications.

Who can clearly articulate the difference between a user researcher, a UX researcher, and a design researcher? Let's add in a qualitative researcher and human factors specialist. Are all of these delineations necessary?

The first step to solving a persistent problem is often to admit you have a problem. Many of us are now doing that. Together. It's riveting.

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