Finding the right UX research participants isn’t as challenging as it seems and let’s not forget how helpful it may be in providing you with valuable insights even if your UX testing plan isn’t that well planned. 

UX researchers should manage their time and find the right research participants during their recruitment process. 

However, this should be done early in the UX research process. When presented earlier in the research process, it’s easier for researchers to prepare for upcoming challenges they have to face. 

Nevertheless, as important as it may be, let’s dive deeper into this article to find out more about recruiting the right UX research participants. 

Why may recruiting UX research participants be challenging sometimes? 

Depending on the type of recruiters you have, there are numerous reasons why recruiting research participants may be difficult. 

Firstly, it may be because of the niche you are in. Not every industry is the same; some are more difficult to understand than others. 

Secondly, it may be because of your budget. It may be limited or you don’t want to spend more than a set number. Therefore, your target audience will also be limited in this case. 

Thirdly, often, it may be because projects are deadline-driven. Recruiting the people you need, setting up your research plan and all of the time-consuming work can make saving time challenging. 

Lastly, we have those that make it challenging to recruit the right participants. Endless recruiters don’t know where to start and what kind of participants they should look for. 

The challenges continue, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You only need to follow the proper steps and we are here to do that. 

7 Tips to follow for recruiting the right UX research participants 

1. Conduct research participant recruitment 

There are plenty of platforms that offer you a global panel network for researching competent participants from millions of users. For example, User Zoom has a panel ecosystem that grants you reliable and fast sourcing from targeting criteria and all study types. 

Research participant recruitment by User Zoom is highly effective because it puts participants through detailed profiling and strict onboarding that ensures they are of the highest quality available. All users who get accepted must complete one study every two months to ensure quality.

Furthermore, you can consider recruiting participants on your own. Here are some methods to do so: 

  • Web intercepts: Check out your organic visitors and invite them to real-time studies. 
  • Mobile intercepts: Invite mobile traffic visitors to a real-time study. 
  • Email: Invite users by sending them a link through email 
  • Social media: Invite users by sending out links to their social media channels. 
  • QR codes: Each real-time study will have a QR code that allows you to send out invitations. 
  • Private panels: Maybe you have a CRM database or private panel. If this is the case, you can invite users to participate in your studies. 

2. Leverage your professional network 

What’s so good about running user interviews is how many great user research participants you can find. However, remember not to get too personal with users because sometimes those who do will usually not give you the feedback you are asking for. 

You can leverage your professional network on social networks like LinkedIn. The more followers you have, the easier it may be for you to invite users. 

Alternatively, you can increase your subscriber list on your website so more users will receive emails. 

Whatever you do, ensure your network grows, even if that growth isn’t too big. A bigger network will always give you more chances to find the right UX research participants. 

3. Screen participants 

This is essential in the recruitment process and it’s crucial to screen out users before recruiting them for your user interviews. Screening is an effective way of determining whether your participants are qualified for your research sessions. 

Therefore, the screening will give you the feedback you need for applying it to your product or service. 

4. Try to individually reach out to users 


Posting on social media won’t always mean you’ll get the attention you are looking for. However, reaching out to users individually means you are starting to get personal. 

Personalization has made brands return on investment (ROI) by 200%, meaning that once you get personal with each of your connections, they’ll feel more valued and most likely respond to your invitation. 

Specifically, if you target a person at a time, make the message personal and formulate it in a way where it will sound like you are reaching out to them for a specific reason; you’ll have a better chance of getting a “Yes” from them. 

You can contact them via email or social media. How you approach users is much more important than where you approach them from. If you post on your social media channel, you’re not doing anything wrong, but reaching out to them individually is a more practical option. 

To take a good example, we’ve written a personalized message ourselves, so you can get a clear idea of what you have to do: 

Hi Jack ,

We’ve noticed that you have a pretty strong background in service management and think it’s an excellent idea to invite you to our user research session. During the session, you’ll be designing an app with the primary purpose being to make the tasks and workflow process easier for service managers. Considering the amount of experience you have, we think you’d be a perfect fit. 



5. Do internal research 


If you find it challenging to recruit external participants, you can try looking inside your organization. Not only is it less time-consuming, but internal research is much easier than external research, only because of the more information you have available. 

Try choosing individuals familiar with your feature or product to make it a good start. This is a good way of assessing your users because you aren’t the user in this case! 

6. Recruiting based on quantitative or qualitative research 

You’re trying to compare whether you should recruit based on your qualitative or quantitative research. Do you need quality or a lot of people to achieve the ideal results you are looking for? 

Quantitative research 

When it comes to quantitative research, it heavily depends on numbers. In this case, if you want better results, you need more data. Therefore, you need to do lots of research with many people. 

When deciding who you should recruit for quantitative research, you need to define the population. Afterward, you can set up a sampling method for creating a sample, aka, randomly selected people from the population participating in your real-time studies. 

Qualitative research 

Involves doing your own research studies. Your own studies make it logical if you need to use both methods or only the qualitative one. This includes doing enough research on the people you want to join your real-time studies. 

According to Toptal, the best way to perform qualitative research is to gather a maximum of five participants and this will help you achieve the ideal results you are looking for. 

Moreover, it makes more sense to conduct qualitative research when you are doing the following: 

  • You update an existing product 
  • Your research requires experienced participants 
  • You want to conduct usability testing amongst experts and not randomly selected people 

Furthermore, you’ll have a significant advantage if you work with existing customers because this is a time-consuming task. 

7. Avoid asking too many difficult questions 

If you want to make the research more effective, entirely avoid asking many difficult questions. Start out with easy questions and save the more difficult ones for the end. Moreover, prioritize more important questions. Try ranking them in some sort of order you can think of. 

If you start asking participants difficult questions from the beginning, they might find it nerve-racking to fully complete your survey. Therefore, you should put yourself in their shoes and fully understand them. 

It’s now time to choose which path you’re ready to follow 

Now that you have more information on how you can recruit UX research participants. It’s time to put these steps into practice and carefully research your participants. Don’t rush the process and take your team because you can’t recruit participants daily. 

It’s better to take your time than to rush a process and fail. Personalize your message, screen out participants, leverage your network, take it easy on the questions, and decide whether you need to do qualitative or quantitative research. After you come to this conclusion, everything will become easier. 

About the Author: 

Tony Ademi is a freelance SEO content and copywriter. He has been in the writing industry for three years and has managed to write hundreds of SEO-optimized articles. Moreover, he has written articles that have ranked #1 on Google. Tony’s primary concern when writing an article is to do extensive research and ensure that the reader is engaged until the end.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.