Surveys can get a bad reputation due to unclear audience targeting, validity issues and leading questions; but, alas, this is not the fault of the survey. The data you get out is only as good as the effort you put in, and one of the key things that is often overlooked with quantitative UX research is timing.

When to send surveys is one of the key pillars in your survey’s success. We’re not talking about whether sending it on a Tuesday or a Wednesday; we focussing more on factors that are either internal to your organisation, external to your audience or environmental and impacting the world.

😎 When profiling your audience

This may sound obvious, but believe me, it’s the biggest problem with UX; neigh, research! The age-old saying ‘you are not your customer’ often gets forgotten in quantitative UX research and it’s important to keep your audience front-of-mind rather than making assumptions.

Research is key, and if you risk not establishing who your audience is, it could result in hefty costs. Building a product or service off the back of the feedback from an audience who would never use it is pointless. Find the right people, get the right insights.

Sure, it’s fine to run smaller or informal research projects on friends, family and co-workers, but the data that you’ll get out of those projects will be inherently laced with bias, a sway towards being pleasing and there will be issues around its credibility.

Completing an initial discovery survey will help you identify all relevant profiles, with healthy supporting evidence. It sets the groundwork for all subsequent research and ensures you are testing with relevant, objective participants.

🧮 Quality vs quantity: when do you use each?

Sometimes you need to go deeper with quantitative UX research and look adopt a qualitative approach.

Use a sample size from your target audience to run in-depth studies, focus groups and diary studies. Capturing what individuals do and why they do it will allow you to get a clear understanding of behaviour trends when looking at a specific action or behaviour. However, these trends will likely fail to deliver unanimous answers, and important decisions shouldn’t be based on this kind of data, as the volume is simply too small.

Here is where quality and quantity work together. The juicy data from these smaller sessions should be used to identify trends in larger quantitative UX research. These wider surveys (and online tasks) can confirm the insights obtained previously and ensure this data is truly representative.

🦠 When face-to-face sessions are not possible

Recent circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have forced a large proportion of society to isolate, which means most people are now unavailable for face-to-face user research.

Remote tools such as surveys, tree jacks and card sorts allow user researchers to continue measuring interactions and the behaviour of individuals in what is otherwise a challenging time for the industry.

Another remote technique is ‘talk-out-loud’. This involves a participant being recorded while using a website or platform and talking about their thoughts and interactions out loud to the camera. The camera records the participant’s interactions and researchers note the key take-outs.

🤐 The importance of anonymity in research

Users and participants are taking their privacy and data protection a lot more seriously, especially if the information shared contain controversial or personably identifiable information. So, it’s worth noting at the start or the survey why the information is being collected and what the internal data process is.

Individuals are now aware of potential data breaches, but that won’t necessarily stop them sharing specific details. What will make individuals reluctant to disclose information is if the data is confidential or sensitive, which can be anything from gambling habits to mental health experiences.

During face-to-face or moderated user experience sessions, the user may steer away from controversial answers or provide more ‘socially acceptable’ answers. Not only that, but it’s also virtually impossible to run these in an entirely anonymised way, due to non-disclosure agreements and the capturing of informed consent. You may be looking to explore the victims or perpetrators of crime, drug use or other topics which encourage biased responses for fear of judgement.

Unmoderated, anonymous sessions – whatever the format – allow participants to be entirely honest about their experiences without hesitation or concerns.

🏃‍♀️ When resources and lead time are limited

One of the biggest problems for user researchers is time. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough hours in the day to see 16 different target audience members, and the UX budget doesn’t always stretch to pay incentives and hire a room. The point is this: research is budget-dependant.

Also, if the research is taking place in London, it won’t be a fair representation of the UK’s overall demographics. In our experience, the views of those in central London can differ vastly to those in rural Cumbria. It’s best not to assume one location’s results are applicable to the entire country or to all your users.

With the current situation constantly changing, quantitative UX research is a great option if you’re working from home with limited resources. Talk to an expert at People for Research and start recruiting for your next survey.



If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user research or usability testing 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.