When you are working with an actual client to enhance the ux of their product, at the research stage of the project how do you recruit the users?

In other words, let's say you start using a tool like Optimal Workshop to run a study. Do you send the link of the study to the client and they forward it to their users or does the client provide you with a list of contacts of which you send the link of the study directly?

4 Answers 4


I'm guessing you are referring to the recruitment of the testers, there is no one way to do it, you could perform the recruitment yourself, you need to understand the audience of the product which typically is in the form of demographics/psychographics/personas or something less formal.

Another option is that your client provides the testers, in this case the client is responsible of the representativeness of the users.

And finally, there are some agencies that do the work for you, you pay them they get you the user.

I hope i have captured your question correctly and please respond so i can improve your question.

  • Thank you for your answer! Yes. I was referring to a situation where your client already has an app that requires an UX overhaul. You would start your research with the existing users of the app, correct? My misunderstanding was whether you communicate with the app's users directly or all communications (like an invitation for survey, remote testing etc.) have to be done through the client without the UX designer ever getting access to the contact details of the users.
    – ck95
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 21:58
  • so yea just to confirm there isn't a rule for that, some clients are not willing to coordinate at all in terms of sharing users data, leaving you to go outside and look for them, which usually increases the bill ;)
    – UX Labs
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 22:46
  • If you are recruiting the users you can use 'market research recruiters' - it's an established industry, so there are plenty to chose from.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 7:53

Do you send the link of the study to the client and they forward it to their users or does the client provide you with a list of contacts of which you send the link of the study directly?

It depends, but it’s in your best interest to have a hand in all aspects of the research. If you’ve helped define the research goal you better believe you want to make sure the right people are recruited.

It’s hard enough to get a critical mass of representative users for a study doing it yourself; delegating that aspect only increases the risk of talking to the wrong people.

Knowing very clearly who you want to talk to (and why) is the first step. Then it’s less critical who does the recruiting, you or the client.


It depends on multiple factors:

  1. Client / Employer relationship contract

Like others have mentioned, not all clients are willing to give up or do the effort to help you recruit and reach their users.

Some clients understand the value of talking to users and will gladly give you access to their user base with them as the intermediary or not. However you will have to make clear that you, as the researcher, have complete control over who to pick, how to contact them, the exact languages used etc. Most clients don’t realize research follows a set of deliberate processes that cannot be tampered with.

  1. Objective of study

If you are optimizing an app for existing users, access to existing users will help achieve that goal. But carefully discriminating who to test is critical for your findings. Have you noticed a set of users performing differently and want to explore them further? Are you optimizing for expert users? Etc.

If your objetive is bringing in new users, then you are targeting current non-users. In this case, the client won’t be able to help. It will be up to you to reach them (craigslist, meetups, placed were you find them, online forums, recruiting agency, etc).

  1. Nature of product

Some products are B2C, others B2B. Consumer products are normally easier to find users for since there are plenty and easily accessible. Business products require professional users under specific industries, who will be especially hard to reach and would require a considerable higher compensation for their time.

  1. Cost for recruiting & Accessibility

Will the client pay for compensation? Will your company pay? Who are you testing and what is a correct compensation for their time? Doctors could demand $100+ per session while a consumer might be do well with a Starbucks Giftcard.

How will you access professional users? Your client will most likely need to provide them.


My answer is the same: It depends.

For one unmoderated online study I was given a huge list of users by the sales department. They had, it seems, been flagging customers who had said they were willing to be contacted about stuff. I then sent a recruitment email to a bunch of them, introducing myself and asking them to participate. I got a pretty good response rate. (I didn't email all of them since we needed to do other studies and didn't want to contact the same people all the time.)

See if your client can get a list of likely participants from their sales or customer-service departments.

I contacted prospective participants myself because I worked for the company. In your case, I'd discuss with your client whether you can contact them yourself or if they should do it. In either case, you'll want to write the email yourself. I wouldn't trust recruitment materials to anyone but the UX team.

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