With 2020 just around the corner, we are looking back at 2019 and what People for Research achieved, as well as taking a look into the future and the trends that are likely to define user experience/ research – and shape user recruitment – over the next year.

Let’s start by listing the top five things that made our year:

Accessibility & inclusion
Raising awareness about the importance of digital accessibility and inclusion has been one of our main goals for the last few years, and 2019 wasn’t any different. A few months back, we launched our new fixed-price accessibility recruitment service in London and Bristol: the Accessibility Collective. You can read more about it here.

Hello, Exeter!
We expanded into Exeter through a partnership with co-working hub The Generator and u.exe, Exeter’s first user experience viewing and testing facility – find out more about this here. An exciting development following the launching of our redesigned website and new User Viewing website, a digital home for our Bristol-based viewing facility.

We won an MRS award
Back in October, the Market Research Society distinguished PFR with an Oppie – MRS Operation Award – in the category of Best Support Services, thanks to our work for cxpartners and charity FRANK. Read this blog to find out more.

Unmoderated remote research
In May, we officially launched our unmoderated remote research/testing recruitment service, managed by our MRS-trained team. To find out more about this, email or read our blog.

B2B & international recruitment
The requests to find niche business owners and senior professionals increased in 2019, as well as the number of international or multi-location projects we worked on. Just in September, we recruited hundreds of participants across seven different countries for two international projects – a challenge that we translated into this blog with six top tips to help you go outside of your geographical comfort zone.

🎉  What about 2020?  🎉

If you have read any of the many trend-forecasting blogs and articles circulating the web, you might have noticed a couple of things: some trends haven’t changed much when compared to previous years, and some trends contradict each other. To get a better picture of what is happening in the UX and user research world, we analysed over 40 articles listing UX and design trends for 2020 and this is what we found out.

ux trends 2020


Interesting, right? Voice and gesture-based user interfaces, as well as augmented and virtual reality remain the biggest trends going into 2020, closely followed by animation and motion in design. Despite being at opposite ends of the design spectrum, minimalism and maximalism are very close to each together in this trend forecast. None of these are likely to be a surprise, but there is a ‘newcomer’ that is set to become one of the hottest new trends for next year: design as storytelling.

We’re also pleased to see mindful and ethical design and accessibility trending in 2020, in line with a couple of our own predictions for user research and recruitment:

Ethical design

We attended a lot of events in 2019, and ‘ethics’ was one of the buzzwords repeatedly mentioned by speakers and attendees alike, from User Research London to Bath Digital Festival and TEDx Bristol.

Whilst dark UX still proliferates – Hilary Stephenson from Sigma wrote about it after this year’s Black Friday – the team at Toptal believes intentional ethical design is the top trend going into 2020:

“Thankfully, dishonest design has been exposed to the glare of public scrutiny, prompting businesses and designers to more carefully weigh the ethical implications of their design decisions.”

If you would like to find out more about dark patterns, specifically in e-commerce, there is a thorough study by Princeton University that you can read here.

Biometric research & testing

One of the exciting case studies we are working on at the moment is about recruiting people with heart conditions to take part in biometric research and testing sessions. You’ll be able to read it soon on the blog, but for now you can check this article by behavioural scientist Susan Weinschenk on Smashing Magazine, on the advantages of biometric tools.

“What if you could get [your users’] unconscious reactions? What if you could take a look inside your users’ brains and see what it is they aren’t saying, i.e. the things they themselves may not realise about their reactions to your product?”


“Walk-through tools like the kind provided by WalkMe have been around for a few years now, but this year I’ve seen the functionality copied by several other platforms. In 2020, I predict this will become the standard for more and more sites,” Userzoom writes. These usability evaluation method tools literally walk the participant through a series of tasks and ask questions to understand the user’s perspective – the goal is to evaluate the system’s user-friendliness for new/infrequent users. We predict these walk-throughs will become more regular in testing sessions.

Artificial Intelligence for accessibility

The numbers indicate that AI accessibility services that monitor the web for compliance will keep growing in 2020. This technology scans websites at regular intervals, and when updates occur, a platform is modified to be more compliant. According to Toptal, “the accessibility requirements of motor, cognitive, and visual impairments (along with epilepsy) are all accounted for.

Expect to see accessibility soar in 2020 as more teams and organisations integrate these AI services into their design process.” This trend is also linked to Microsoft and their AI for Accessibility programme, as well as tools like Seeing AI.

Do you have any other topics or tools you believe will be big in 2020? Let us know.



Paul Gooding, Chief Executive Officer

If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user testing or market research get in touch on 0117 921 0008 or

At People for Research, we recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner up with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.