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UX Research Expertise Makes All the Difference

Carol Barnum is an expert in UX research

Carol’s UX research publications present  practical solutions and case studies that demonstrate how research informs practice.  Her articles, books, book chapters, and presentations cover important topics in usability, UX research, content strategy, and other hot topics.

Invited Essay: The State of UX Research

November 2019

My reflections in this essay focus on the state of UX research. I am thinking specifically of usability testing, but also more generally of other common forms of UX research, such as contextual inquiry, heuristic evaluation, and in-depth interviews.

My key concerns can be presented in the following questions:

  • Are short courses teaching rigorous usability research methods?
  • Is the methodology for conducting valid small studies well understood?
  • Is the democratization of UX research diluting the practice of UX research?
  • Is the proliferation of online tools diminishing the utility of the UX researcher?
  • With current job descriptions, should we drop the U in UX?

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How Do Other People Do It? A Comparative Review of Usability Study Reports

On the most recent of Rolf Molich’s Comparative Usability Evaluation studies (CUE-10), 16 participants conducted an exercise intended to “gather real-world data about usability test moderation from experienced UX professionals.” Each team conducted three sessions of the same usability study (same site, same tasks) and recorded the sessions so other teams could examine each other’s moderation practices.

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UX and Usability Articles

More Articles by Carol Barnum

"Ask UX Matters" Columns

Dealing with Clients Who Only Focus on Only One Aspect of a UX Design, April 2020

Empowering Teams to Work Better Together, December 2019

Conducting International User Research   February 2019

Collaborating with Automated UX Tools   December 2018

Integrating User-Research Findings into Strategy   November 2018

Testing Low-Fidelity Versus High-Fidelity Mockups   June 2018

How to Stand Out in the Expanding Field of User Experience   February 2018

Testing Products People Will Use in a Variety of Environments   September 2017

Books That Have Influenced Our UX Careers, Part 2: Applied UX Research   March 2017

Merging User Experience and Systems Engineering   April 2016

Distinguishing Yourself as a UX Professional    November 2015

Identifying and Validating Assumptions and Mitigating Biases in User Research   October 2015

Recruiting the Right Participants for User Research   September 2015

Asking Probing Questions During a Usability Study   May 2015

Should Your Entire Product Team Observe Usability Testing?   March 2015

Persuading Clients That the Need for User Research and Usability Testing Is Real   October 2014

Learning About and Modeling Users   August 2014

Why Is It So Hard to Find Good UX People?   March 2014

Conducting Expert Reviews: What Works Best?   January 2014

UX Concepts and Practices That We Wish Would Just Go Away!   August 2013

Finding Your Favorite UX Conference   May 2012

How Important Are UX Degrees and Certifications?   January 2012

Bridging User Research into Design   October 2011

Integrating UX into Agile Development   April 2011

Academic Journal Articles

Co-authored article, “How Professionals Moderate Usability Tests,Journal of Usability Studies, August 2020

Co-authored article with Ginny Redish:  “Overlap, Influence, Intertwining: The Interplay of UX and Technical Communication,” Journal of Usability Studies, May 2011

Co-authored article with (the late) Ken Rainey and Herb Smith: “Steps and Missteps in Negotiating a Joint Degree Program with a Chinese University,” for an edited volume of new essays called Designing Globally Networked Learning Environments, Sense Publishers, 2008

“Agile and UCD: Can This Marriage Be Saved?” Cutter Business Technology Journal, September 2007

Co-authored with Li Huilin, “Chinese and American Technical Communication: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Differences,” lead article in May 2006 issue of Technical Communication. Called “groundbreaking” by editor of the journal

Lead author of co-authored article: “Index vs. Full-Text Search: A Usability Study of User Preference and Performance,” Technical Communication, May 2004. (Award of “Distinguished” Journal Article)



UX Pioneers interview with Carol Barnum by Tamara Adlin,  March 2008

Rendezvous interview with Carol Barnum in KnowGenesis (International Journal for Technical Communication), September 2006

Carol Barnum is the author of more than 50 articles and 6 books, including Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set…Test! 2nd edition (2021).

Her research focus is on the practical applications of user research, the rationale and selection of the right research tools in a UX toolkit, strategies for effective professional and technical communication, and approaches for communicating in cross-cultural situations.

Carol Barnum

Author, Consultant, Trainer

Frequently Asked Questions about UX Research

What is UX research?

UX research involves applying UX research findings about your users to better tailor your product to its target audience. Carol Barnum Consulting provides training on the right tools in the UX research toolkit to match your needs and budget. Contact Carol to get started!

Is user research necessary?
Yes. If you want your business to be successful in reaching its target market, then you need to understand what your audience wants. User research allows you to do this.
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