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How We Use Research Hub

Dogfooding User Interviews: An honest, insider’s look into how UI’s Research team uses our own recruitment and panel management solution.

I get asked this question a lot: How does User Interviews use Research Hub?

We hear from our users everyday that recruiting customers is really painful; there's just so much to juggle, from managing relationships with your sales and customer success teams to getting access to customer data. 

We built Research Hub because we believe that research with your own customers should—and can—be easier. And we know it works, because here at User Interviews, we use it every day.

From one User Researcher to another, I’d like to tell you about:

  • Our internal UX research team and how we work
  • Challenges we’ve encountered around recruiting our own customers
  • How we use Hub and are improving our experience


Before we dive in, it's important to note that the way that you use Research Hub might differ based on the structure and size of your team. That’s okay! 

The solution is flexible enough that you don’t need to match us 1-1. Rather, use our experience as inspiration for your team!

Our UX research team and how we work

When I joined User Interviews as the first User Researcher, there was already plenty of UX research being done across teams. 

Product Managers, Designers, and Marketers were leading their own research projects and using insights to inform their decisions. 

The Product pods (which include PMs and PDs), were in the midst of rolling out Teresa Torres’s continuous discovery framework. This framework involves meeting with customers 1x per week to get a pulse on their experience and help product teams prioritize projects, seize opportunities, and improve the user experience on an ongoing basis. Our pods are pretty autonomous in this approach with PMs and PDs leading scheduling and recruitment.

Over the last year, our research team began to evolve. We grew to a mighty team of 3 that includes myself, a Research Ops Manager, and User Researcher. As a newly-established research team, we operate on a hybrid model, wherein we run strategic research projects in addition to providing enablement to PwDR (people who do research, such as designers, PMs, or marketers). 

This means that at any point in time, we have a pretty high volume of research taking place, spanning discovery, evaluative and continuous. Our most common methods include 1:1 user interviews, surveys, usability tests, and product analytics.

As the size of our team and the cadence of research increased, I noticed a few patterns starting to emerge within the team.

Patterns and problem areas we wanted to fix

Before cleaning up our recruitment practices, we had 3 main challenges to address. 

1. Limited understanding of recruitment best practices

I always like to say that no one goes to school for recruitment! 

Some of our PMs and PDs had never led recruitment or been exposed to things like screeners and quotas before joining the team. This lack of experience often leads to longer research timelines, or creates fires that need to be put out when it comes to recruiting customers for studies. 

(📚 Psst—read this to learn more about recruitment best practices!)

2. Our data was a mess! 

Our product and research teams built our customer research panel pretty organically over time. 

We’ve always used our own instance of Research Hub to talk to customers. Since the beginning, various people from product and research invited people to projects via CSV upload, project links or uploading customer data directly into Hub. 

Our panel had grown to 21K+ with much of it being out of date. At one point, we had ~105 columns of different fields of data which even included our customers favorite type of food—why?! 

3. Overlapping recruitment requests 

Our teams were often recruiting for their studies in silos and sometimes targeting the same customers. As a result of these overlaps, customers were overcontacted or we ran out of a qualified customer pool to recruit from for other studies.

A vision for more effective recruitment and panel management

When the research team kicked off Q3 2022, one of our primary goals focused on enabling effective recruitment for PwDR (people who do research) at User Interviews. To put this work in motion, I facilitated a brainstorm with our team to identify how we currently carry out recruitment across teams and also align on a vision for the future.

Our goals included:

Screenshot of notes from our recruitment brainstorm session

As a team, we decided our first step was to clarify who did what within our own instance of Research Hub and decided to limit panel access to the research team, PMs, and PDs. This would set us up for success for streamlining a process around recruitment.

How we recruit our own customers using Research Hub

Recruitment has a lot of moving parts. Here’s how our internal team manages all the different aspects of recruitment and panel management, from the moment a recruitment need arises to the process of distributing incentives after completed sessions.

🌱 When a recruitment need arises

Whenever a research need arises, a member of the research team will help by:

  • Identifying the target audience that is best for the study
  • Discussing the right research methods and sample size
  • Allocating resources (like budget, etc)

From there, a screener survey is put together and we create a project in the User Interviews platform.

👉 Sign up free and launch your first recruitment project in User Interviews. 

🌊 2 primary workflows

There are 5 methods for building your own panel in Research Hub, including:

  1. Uploading a CSV file of existing contacts
  2. Creating opt-in forms to grow your panel with highly engaged users
  3. Adding a single participant directly to your panel
  4. Sending invitations to a live study
  5. Using our Participant API to securely sync user data from any system

#1 is the most popular method among our customers, and that’s true for UI too—because of the current state of our Hub data, the most common way our team recruits is by uploading a CSV with customer data directly into a project. 

We gather the customer data by submitting a request to our analytics team. Our analytics team will typically turn around a CSV in under 24 hours, after which we upload it to our Hub project. 

Our 2nd most common workflow is #4. Sometimes, we’ll email a customer directly (if we have one in mind) with a project invite link where they can apply to participate in a study.

📅 Scheduling and collaboration

When configuring a project, the person running research will sync their calendar using User Interviews and input available dates for sessions. 

Once a project is launched, we’ll invite key stakeholders to the project as collaborators. We ask that all product teams conducting research add their Research Lead to a project so they can jump in and provide support if needed.

🔌 Integrations for different study types

We also take advantage of our wide menu of integrations. 

If it’s a moderated study, a Zoom link will automatically be added to the interview session— moderators just have to show up to facilitate! If a study is unmoderated, we use our SurveyMonkey integration or Maze for usability testing.

Some of User Interviews's integrations

Check out our Integrations page to learn more about our current integrations and see which integrations are on our roadmap.

✍️ Document Signing

During project setup, we make sure to take advantage of our Document Signing feature and will add an informed consent document to let participants know more about the research they are participating in. 

This is super useful and eliminates the need to juggle manual signatures or PDFs!

💰 Automated incentives

After we wrap up our research sessions, the Researcher or PwDR will check off completed  participation within the User Interviews platform. This automatically sends the incentive to the participant! Long gone are the days of purchasing gift cards and manually sending them to research participants.

On a team level, we also have a few administrative features put in place to help streamline things:

  • Invite Rules: We currently have an invite rule setup that prevents our team from reaching out to folks in our panel who have participated in a study within the last 15 days. (The ideal range for this is still something we’re figuring out on our side!)
  • Branding: We have email themes, templates, logo and colors configured for our account to make sure that the voice and tone of our customer outreach is consistent.
Our default logo configured in Research Hub

Recruitment is always a work in progress

As we start to wind down at the end of the quarter, we’re continuing to iterate and improve our own recruitment workflow. Here are a few of the exciting things we’ve been working on:

Census API integration

We worked with our analytics team to configure an API integration with Census to help enable automatic updates of our customer data. We spent a ton of time deleting data and aligning on key fields we want to keep updated and relevant to have the most effective customer recruitment. No more information about our customers favorite foods! 

Taxonomy of fields User Interviews is pulling from Census integration
Taxonomy of fields User Interviews is pulling from Census integration

Implementing Appcues

We launched Appcues for in-product surveys making it easier to target recruitment directly from certain pages or after customers take specific actions within the User Interviews platform. This will allow us to get more targeted feedback about their experience! 

Research education

We put together a recruitment best practices guide for the User interviews team. It covers everything from the basics around logistics and informed consent to the best days and times to recruit our customers. We also held a live session to boost the team’s confidence and answer any questions they might have about recruiting for their own studies.

User Interviews's internal recruitment playbook for product managers and product designers
User Interviews's internal recruitment playbook

How will you use Research Hub?

I’m really excited to see all of the progress we’ve made so far. If you’d like to get started with Research Hub, visit the pricing page to learn more or book a demo with our team.

Roberta Dombrowski
VP, User Research

Roberta Dombrowski is a (former) VP, UXR at User Interviews. In her free time, Roberta is a Career Coach and Mindfulness teacher through Learn Mindfully.

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