With the growth in the field of UX research, there are many tools available to help streamline research processes, keep track of research findings and improve the visibility of research across your organization. As a UX researcher, it’s important to consider your list of requirements before selecting any one or a number of tools. In this list, we capture most of the capabilities we’ve found are foundational requirements for MOST research teams. We’re always learning and adding to this list, so if you have feedback, please let us know!
Five functional areas that research tools can streamline processes
Each of these functional areas and capabilities has sub-features that we’ve listed here as a simple checklist.
And, we’ve included detailed descriptions of these features and questions you can ask to validate capabilities below.
When managing participants in your research tool, you want to be able to do three things: source a list of panelists or build a panel, match with specific people within that list and then easily invite folks to participate in your research studies.
Characteristics to look for are flexibility, quality, and personalization.
Flexibility comes into play when you consider sourcing your candidates. You never know how you are going to want to recruit participants, so the more options you have the better. When you get a list of folks, then you need the flexibility to tag and filter how you want to.
Do keep in mind, that quality of candidates matters. No one wants people just looking for a quick incentive. You want to build a panel of true users, ones that are invested in the future of your product.
Lastly, being able to personalize all communications that touch your prospective candidates gives you an opportunity to connect in your own personal way.
Ways to source candidates
Pay for a vendor managed list and ask people to complete a form/survey
Integrate with your own lists/systems to bring those candidates into your panel management system
Use landing pages or forms to recruit people to your panel
Find your perfect candidate
Tag and filter candidates based on existing properties
Add new tags/properties based on survey answers
Build segmented lists based on filters or tags
Share lists with other team members for approval/input
Remove or ignore dis-engaged participants (people who haven’t engaged in the past or have opted out)
Branded and personalized emails
Add screeners before interviews (to help get to the perfect match)
Branded (with logos) landing pages for recruitment
Throttling email distribution: so you don’t invite a bunch of folks when you’ve already booked up your interview slots.
Rich HTML email composer: to help with your branding and to make it look professional
Two click scheduling: make it so easy for a participant to book an interview with you, that it’s just two clicks
Calendar integrations: make sure that bookings don’t interfere with your existing work
The second functional area is all about making it easy to conduct research. This starts with being able to support all of your typical research methods and includes the participants' experience of completing research tasks or studies.
The characteristics to look for in these features are: comprehensive and frictionless.
You are conducting research and you want to make sure that you are getting the most out of every interaction with your participant. Hearing and seeing their reactions, even while they participate in an unmoderated study or survey can make a big difference in how you view their specific answers to questions.
For a participant, you want something that’s not going to make it hard for them to complete the study. No apps to download, no extra extensions to install, just click a link and go. Reducing friction can drastically improve your completion rates, which means you get more feedback to make your product even better.
Research methods supported
Unmoderated prototype tests
Moderated prototype tests
Integrations to quantitative methods: if you are looking at a tool that might have 80% of the methods that you need, but you REALLY need that additional 20%, you can use two tools, as long as they speak to each other via an integration.
No more than two clicks to get to the first question
Clear expectations communicated: the participant should know upfront how long this study will take and the expected reward for their participation.
Now that your study is complete you have to send off incentives. This can be one of the most administrative tasks in the research process, and yet, it can be the most critical for the participant experience.
When considering research incentives look for a solution that’s global, flexible, and easy to redeem and manage.
Incentive Types supported
Reach & access of incentives
Offered in foreign currencies
Redeemable in countries where you have participants
Two click redemption for participants
Send incentives immediately upon completion
Ability to approve incentive redemption communications
Set and fund budgets by study
Set and fund budgets by department/organization
Codifying & Analyzing Research
Now that the research has been executed it’s time to codify and analyze the responses so you can start to improve your product. The most critical part of this functional area lies within the UX repository. To truly democratize research and share insights this part of your platform needs to be accessible and easily organized.
Make sure that the repository is easy to organize and share access.
Highlight and tag insights
Record video transcripts
Download survey results
Charts created from survey results
Share clips, whole videos, survey results
Reporting & Visibility
Conducting customer research is a lot of work, and when done right, can not only impact your product roadmap, but your entire culture. Building a culture of research starts with sharing. As we learned from Roy Olende at Zapier, Brad Orego from Auth0, and Nicole Wright at Honeybook, sharing is the first step in democratizing research in any organization.
The keys to a great platform when it comes to reporting and visibility are ease of access and readability.
General dashboard on upcoming and previous projects
Reports on opt-in rates/engagement of panel
Reports on incentives (budget spent, amount per study)
Reports by method (number of interviews, surveys, etc)
Research visibility for other teams
Shareable links accessible without login
Share upcoming research integrations with Slack/Teams for updates
Easily shareable observer accounts for upcoming research
Dashboard access for non-primary research teams
Security & Compliance
A UX Research platform touches customer data, and employee data. It’s important to know that this data is secure and can be extra protected (PII) if desired.
The key characteristics of these capabilities are flexibility and trust.
Multi-factor authentication enabled
Single Sign on via SAML 2.0
Customize PII fields
Enforce governance (as to not burn out lists & limit incentives)
SOC Compliance level
Disaster Recovery Plan from vendor/platform
3rd party risk assessments & audits
Capture customizable NDA sign-off
There are two other areas to consider integrations with your existing systems and the obvious one, pricing.
Video recording software (ex. Zoom)
Calendars (Ex. Google Calendar or Microsoft O365 Calendar)
Email sending tools (ex. Google, Microsoft O365)
CRM tools (Ex. Salesforce)
Other connectors (URLs or Zapier)
Free view-only accounts
Scaleable: No one wants a big contract right out of the gate, make sure you can pay based on the adoption of the tool and the access for your internal teams
These are a few things to help you streamline your UX Research Process. What else have you done? How are you evaluation solutions to help?