Will AI Replace UX Researchers?

How will AI affect UX research. Get future-proof by focusing on in demand skills.

Since the release of ChatGPT in November 2022 everybody got either excited or scared when seeing the power AI already has.  You may be concerned about the potential threat AI poses to the field of user research. However, fear not! 

In this article, we will discover the relationship between AI and UX research, and discuss why AI cannot replace UX researchers and never filly will. In addition, you get the most important steps to take today to become a future-proof researcher.

Why AI Can't Do UX Research 

AI Tools are very capable of working with large amounts of data, but they fall behind in many areas to make them a fully capable researcher any time soon. Let’s discuss some of the reasons why AI in no way can replace a UX research team. 

1. Human Interaction

One of the fundamental aspects of UX research is empathizing with users. AI, while powerful in many respects, lacks the emotional intelligence to comprehend user behavior, motivations, and needs. AI can help to collect data, but it can't interpret it in a nuanced way.

There are many research methods where interpreting user emotions and thought processes is a key component. User interviews, usability tests, and ethnographic studies for example need human interpretation and awareness. A good researcher knows when a user might answer in a biased way because of social desirability or is confused with a question or task and needs help.

Besides the actual data collection process, a researcher needs to be in touch with the participant before and after. Participants feel more valued and seen when there is a real human they can interact with.

2. Organizational Work Around Research

UX research extends beyond data collection and analysis. It involves organizational work, like:
- Communication
- Collaboration
- Strategic planning
- Insight presentation

Researchers need to bridge gaps between designers, developers, product managers, and other stakeholders to ensure that the whole team understands and uses the insights. 

While AI can assist in these tasks it is really hard to manage all the organizational work and there is currently no AI solution in sight that can do that work without an expert.  

3. Error-Prone

AI is known to make errors or make up facts. It is likely to produce biased or inaccurate results and needs guidance and oversight. There is a need for highly skilled experts to use AI tools correctly and double-check for errors for years to come. 

A UX researcher needs critical thinking and ethical expertise more than ever to ensure that research findings are trustworthy and of high quality.

Will User Research Be Affected by AI?

While AI can't replace UX researchers entirely, it is already a valuable tool that can speed up processes or open new research opportunities. 

AI in Quantitative Research vs. Qualitative Research

AI excels in quantitative research, as it can help to process large datasets quickly. It can identify trends, patterns, and correlations that might be challenging for humans to spot. When it comes to qualitative research, such as user interviews and ethnographic studies, it seems that AI cannot be as helpful for researchers.  

However, in both fields, there are already many use cases for AI assistance. Qualitative research can be enhanced by AI-driven categorization and clustering of large data sets like social media posts. 

AI as a Tool that Speeds up Processes

AI can automate certain aspects of research, from data collection and initial analysis to participant recruitment and research report design. 

This can free up time to focus on tasks where more effort leads to better quality or more insights, such as synthesizing findings and making strategic considerations. Embracing AI as a research tool can boost your efficiency and productivity.

How to Become Future-Proof as a UX Researcher

If you want to become a better UX researcher today while also preparing yourself for future changes in the industry it is key to embrace new technology as a helpful tool The following strategies might help you in that endeavor:

Improve Research Skills

Mediocre UX research is way easier to replace by AI than a skilled researcher with rare capabilities. 

Stay updated with the latest research methodologies, tools, and best practices and become an absolute expert in one part of UX research. If you become one of the thought leaders for one methodology you will be leading the way for all AI improvements to come. 

Adopt AI Tools Early

Don’t avoid AI tools because of fear of replacement. Become an expert in using the tool. It will make you more productive and valuable and you gain a new skill as well. Additionally, I believe there is a lot of excitement in extending your capabilities with tools. Not AI is becoming better than humans, humans who use AI become more powerful than those who won’t. 

 Some popular AI research tools include:

  • Neurons Predict: A platform that forecasts human behavior through simulated Eye-tracking.
  • Looppanel: This tool allows you to focus on user interviews while it transcribes everything.
  • ChatGPT: Large language model that can be used in countless ways, like generating research materials.

Already countless startups emerged in the field that are all very new. It is hard to evaluate the quality of these tools. Make sure to only use tools that are accurate and reliable. 

Tools like Neurons Predict might help but can also do more harm than good. Other, more targeted assistants can be incorporated more easily as they usually do one task very well.  Generally, I would be careful when users are substituted by AI models.

Become more Holistic

While it is very important to be an expert in your field you should think about all the skills needed for a successful research project. Usually, UX researchers do not focus on skills like project management, team communication, or strategic value delivery. 

Mastering these skills will make you a better research professional. In addition, you will also appear to be more skilled as you strive in everything where you present your expertise to stakeholders. 


While AI is getting better by the day, it cannot replace the unique human skills and insights that researchers bring to the table. AI will be a vehicle to become more effective in your research and should not be seen as an enemy. Adopting new tools early can give you an advantage in the long run. But be careful as a lot of AI tools are currently not as reliable and accurate as they need to be for professional UX research.

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