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The best platforms for recruiting user research participants

Illustration of different research participants
29 July 2020
Kai Forsyth

As we've discussed in our tips for recruiting participants for user research, recruiting people to participate in user research is often one of the most challenging and underestimated parts of conducting research.

There are many ways that you can go about sourcing participants. You could email your customers, post on social media, ask friends and family, run advertisements on social media, or even ask people on the street.

The difficulty is that you need to do the hard work to screen your participants to make sure they're a good fit for your research, work out availability and scheduling for them to participate, and finally handle the logistics of paying an incentive to the participant for their time.

Recently a number of companies have set out to do all this hard work for you. They've built a network of participants ready and willing to contribute to your research, and have developed tools to manage scheduling and payment of incentives.

We've compiled a list of the leading platforms that researchers are using and each of their strengths. All of these platforms help with:

  • Finding and recruiting research subjects: Finding participants and screening them based on your criteria from their own network of participants that they've built up.

  • Scheduling participant time in calendars: Allowing participants to schedule time based on your researcher's availability.

  • Paying and delivering incentives: Arranging payment and delivery of incentives to those who attend your research, usually in the form of gift cards or cash disbursements.

Respondent has developed a network of professionals, including software developers, marketers, enterprise software users, and other knowledge workers. Unlike other recruitment platforms with a lot of consumer participants, Respondent is especially effective when you need to recruit business professionals for your research.

Respondent is great for:

  • Sourcing business professionals and knowledge workers.

  • Recruiting participants for B2B research.

  • Sourcing participants for any research method, including generative and evaluative research.

Screenshot of the Respondent website.
Screenshot of the Respondent website.

Askable is an Australian-based company that recruits worldwide. They have built a strong network of research participants across Australia and New Zealand, and are used by many leading brands in the region, including Woolworths, Optus, Qantas, and Xero. They have active panelists in every major city across Australia and New Zealand.

Askable is great for:

  • Sourcing participants from Australia and New Zealand.

  • Scheduling research with participants in Asia-Pacific timezones.

  • Ensuring participants show up with their enforced strict attendance policy.

  • Sourcing participants for any research method, including generative and evaluative research.

Askable also has an offer for Method in Madness readers to get five participants for free for your first booking.

Screenshot of the Askable website.
Screenshot of the Askable website.

User Interviews boasts over 350,000 participants globally and can leverage their vast network of participants to quickly source participants for your research – useful if you're working with a tight schedule.

User Interviews is great for:

  • Sourcing participants quickly, with a 2-hour median time to first matched participant.

  • Sourcing participants from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States with specific demographic requirements.

  • Sourcing participants for any research method, including generative and evaluative research.

Screenshot of the User Interviews website.
Screenshot of the User Interviews website.

Validately, recently acquired by UserZoom, recruits participants primarily for user testing and evaluative research. Validately has a vast network of users who are experienced in evaluating research prototypes and design concepts.

Validately is great for:

  • Sourcing participants specifically for moderated or unmoderated user testing and evaluative research.

  • Sourcing participants worldwide with non-specific demographic requirements.

Screenshot of the Validately website.
Screenshot of the Validately website.

Each platform has different strengths depending on the type of research subject you're trying to reach, the research method you're using, and how quickly you need source participants. If you're looking to streamline your recruitment, scheduling, and incentive payment challenges – these platforms are worth considering for your next research project.

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