Ways to recruit users in User research

Ways to recruit users in  User research


User research is the methodic study of target users—including their needs and pain points—so designers have the sharpest possible insights to work with to make the best designs. User researchers use various methods to expose problems and design opportunities, and find crucial information to use in their design process. User research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies. This field of research aims at improving the usability of products, services, or processes by incorporating experimental and observational research methods to guide the design, development, and refinement of a product. User researchers often work alongside designers, engineers, and programmers in all stages of product creation and idealization.


When it comes to user research activities the biggest challenge for any researcher is ‘users (participants) recruitment’ due to certain factors of cost, ways and finding suitable profiles. There is a great article about "basics of recruiting users for research” by Interaction Design Foundation. 

There are different ways which researchers or researchers operations can opt to recruit participants for research activities: 

1. User research participants database

If you are not maintaining the previously contacted research users or participants records in your organisation, then this is time you should start. User research database may be used for future research as well if there is a criteria matching in screener or profile. 

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2. Product owner/Sales contacts

This specially works well in B2B ecosystem, product owners or Sales SPOCs can help in bridging with target participants or leads which can be utilised for screening and sampling. 

3. Snow ball sampling

Snowball sampling or chain-referral sampling is defined as a non-probability sampling technique in which the samples have traits that are rare to find. This is a sampling technique, in which existing subjects provide referrals to recruit samples required for a research study. 



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4. Social media sampling

Social media networks becomes a gold mine when recruiting for general population but not limited to only B2C context. Researchers can also release recruitment notes/surveys/screeners over different social media platforms or social groups of specialised roles (e.g. Google Groups, LinkedIn groups etc.). This is effective and low budget way to recruit participants. Only cons is the uncertainty in responses and  higher turn around time. 

5. User recruitment firms

User recruiting firms serve as a great help to organisations & researchers in finding the participants matching with profiles and screeners. Researchers generally connect with these firms or vendors with a requirement of research and most of the work of recruitment is outsourced. This brings ease for researcher up to certain extent. Budget limits can be high for firms and vendors. 

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6. Online platforms to recruit participants

User research online platforms also offer the service to recruit participants for your study with some extra budget. This becomes very useful when going for remote user research activities and surveys. Researchers can also pay per session, pay per respondent etc. For ex. UserZoom Go, Ethnio, User Interviews, Respondents, UserBrain, UserCrowd etc. are some services which offers not only remote user testing but also provide an ease in recruiting participants for your research.


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