Conduct user research with the right people

Business Benefits

Draw accurate conclusions.


Set 3-7 objectives for your research by pinpointing which questions you are trying to answer.

Your primary objective should focus on a general problem you are trying to solve. Additional objectives should support your primary objective. For example:

  • Level of employee motivation.
  • Factors that impact employee motivation.
  • How to improve employee motivation.

Create a hypothesis predicting the outcome of your research.

It can be helpful to orient your hypothesis using internal data. For instance, your data might indicate that your average customer visits your product pages three separate times over a week before purchasing. Your hypothesis may be that this is the result of the customer comparing prices on other platforms. Your user research would then confirm this hypothesis.

Write a recruitment brief with behavioral and demographic criteria.

These criteria may include the user’s familiarity with the product, their personal or professional objectives, and how often they will be using the designated processes. You will also want to specify how you will find participants that meet these criteria and what channels you will use to engage the population.

Set participation expectations by outlining the expected time commitment and the anticipated number of research sessions.

If you plan on using monetary incentives to increase user participation, be clear about these incentives upfront. It may also be worthwhile to A/B test between populations that did and did not receive the incentive.

Decide your sample size. For most studies, target at least 100 people that meet your recruitment criteria.

As your representative population increases or your confidence requirements become more specific, you will need to utilize a more statistically accurate methodology.
To decide the right number of people to target in these situations, check out SurveyMonkey’s sample size calculator.

Select a user research methodology that takes into account the amount of time you have to conduct this research, your objectives, and how the results of this research will be used.

Consider questionnaires, panel discussion, time study, or live observation.

Determine which tools you will be using to conduct this user research.

Offline tools include:

  • IDsurvey CAPI.
  • Voxco.
  • Digivey.

Online tools include:

  • Google Forms.
  • Typeform.
  • SurveyMonkey.

You will want to take your recruitment criteria into account as you are selecting a tool. Certain audience characteristics may not be common enough to interview people on the street. In these cases, you will need to use a combination of online and offline tools to meet sample size requirements and obtain the right insights.

Write an initial survey, also known as a screener, to evaluate potential participants and ensure that it can be completed in 10 minutes or less.

As you build this survey, focus on who, what, why, where, when, and how questions. For example:

What age group do you represent?

  • 10-20
  • 30-40
  • 40-50
  • 60+

What websites do you shop on? (Select all that apply)

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Other

How often do you shop online?

  • Once a year
  • Once a month
  • Once a week
  • Only when I can’t find the item locally

Compile a list of additional questions you would like to ask your audience. These questions should be more specific than your screener and should contribute to the evaluation of your hypothesis.

If you hypothesized that your customers compare prices before making a purchase, you would want to shift from What websites do you shop on? to What are the reasons you shop on these websites? and How important is price?.