The Golden & Dark Age of UX Research

User Experience Research (UXR) has taken a surprising upturn in demand due to pandemic-related shifts in business norms and strategy. This has led UXR into a period of inflated expectations where demand has never been higher. We also believe it positions user experience at its highest risk of significant disappointment and burnout.


To get better insights as quickly as possible, companies are trying to hire as quickly as possible but with unrealistic expectations for roles and increasing demand for both tactical and strategy research.

A Recipe for UX Researcher Burnout

UX researchers are generally excited about the emphasis on their work right and feel like they finally have a seat at the table to begin influencing decision-making. This can make UX teams prone to blindly accepting additional responsibilities even if they don’t necessarily have the expertise or time to adequately handle them, such as implementing new tools and developing and leading training.

UX teams are being handed the reigns and expected to lead:

  • Research Execution
  • Operationalization
  • Learning & Development

This means peripheral, non-research tasks are complying with traditional tasks and beginning to bog down UX research teams. All three of the above categories are complex tasks and attempting to have one team handle them all increases the risk of burnout and ultimately the failure to deliver high-quality results.

Tempering Expectations

Disappointing inflated expectations leads to disillusionment. If a disillusionment plunge is sharp enough, it can result in devastating setbacks for UX work, like reallocated budgets and loss of seasoned employees.


Mitigating damage on the other side of a peak period requires us to pre-emptively set realistic expectations for what UX teams can do and accomplish. 

The pathway to long-term success for researchers is to prioritize short-term targets:

  • Focus on research execution and presenting insights
  • Answer the burning questions
  • Recruit help for support tasks.

How to Move Forward

Step 1 — Do You Know The ‘Burning Questions?’

If researchers aren’t engaged in the right contexts and relationships, they’ll get assigned to less valuable tasks and do less big research.

Step 2 — Use A Framework For Goal Setting

The best way to say the right things is to have clear, prioritized goals in mind.

Step 3 — Set Short-Term Goals With A Focus On Getting The People Side Right

Focus on what you can actually do best and get partners or help on everything else.