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June 23, 2021
A data-backed calculator for user research.
Research takes time and effort for someone to participate in, and what that time is worth changes based on what you’re asking for in your study.
We ask about a number of different variables that help us make a better recommendation for your study. This section explains what we mean by consumer, professional, moderated, unmoderated, remote, and in-person.
When we say consumer, we’re talking about participants that do not have job title targeting. Of course, consumer participants often have jobs, and may also participate as professionals in other studies. But in this case, their job isn’t what you need to ask them about in your study.
For example, if you’re running a study on grocery shopping and you need to talk to people between the ages of 25-35 who are the primary shoppers for their household, you’d be targeting consumers.
You’d also be targeting consumers if you want to talk to people who have recently purchased a specific kind of lawnmower, maintain a garden, or live in towns of less than 30,000 people. If they need to be landscape architects, we’re talking about professionals.
In our calculator, professional participants are people targeted based on their job titles and skills. They are more difficult to match, and expect more compensation for their time.
For example, if you need to talk to cardiologists in Chicago, you’re targeting professionals.
The same goes for targeting VPs of marketing, Uber drivers, or developers. These are all professionals, (not to be confused with “professional participants” who try to participate in studies as a primary source of income).
For our calculator, we divided participants by their yearly income. This makes it easier to determine which incentives are fair and meaningful to your participants. Of course, these are not hard and fast numbers, so use our recommendations as a starting point to talk to your team about what’s best for your project and your participants.
A remote study is any study that doesn’t require the participant and the researcher to be in the same physical location. This can mean a video chat, a phone call, or asynchronously recorded submission.
An in-person study requires the participant and the researcher to be in the same physical location. These could involve having the participant come to your office for an interview, hosting an in-person focus group, or conducting ethnography research. In-person research can also include things like on-the-street research, or in-store shop-alongs.
Moderated sessions are sessions that have a moderator present. This could be a researcher, designer, PM, or anyone else who guides the participant through the task or questions at hand. Generative interviews, moderated usability tests, and field studies are all moderated research activities.
Unmoderated sessions don’t have a moderator present. This means the participant completes the activity on their own, without the help of a researcher or moderator. Unmoderated usability tests, tree tests, diary studies, and first click tests are all examples of unmoderated tasks.
Our calculator was made with a tool called ConvertCalculator. It allows us to create a complex calculator that takes the variables from your questions and multiplies them by a per-minute rate depending on what kind of participant you need. All incentives are rounded to the nearest 5—so $10, $15, etc.
Carrie Boyd is a UXR content wiz, formerly at User Interviews. She loves writing, traveling, and learning new things. You can typically find her hunched over her computer with a cup of coffee the size of her face.