You may have noticed that we recently shared the results of a survey with our UK-wide community of participants in user research, with 72% of people saying they are ready to go back to face-to-face research sessions. Off the back of this reassuring response from our community, we also asked user researchers and UXers how they feel going back to a “new normal”: according to our data, only 54.8% of professionals feel comfortable or able to run in-person research sessions right now.

Whether this is due to personal reasons, a lack of means or challenges like recruiting the right users right now for face-to-face sessions, 45.2% of professionals polled said they are not ready, don’t feel comfortable or have the means to run in-person research right now.

User recruitment is actually one of the big issues highlighted by researchers, with 45% of professionals predicting it might be too difficult to recruit participants right now. As our report shows, that is not the case since roughly three in every four people would be open to attend sessions right now, as long as the right safety measures are in place.

With the hospitality sector starting to open and people easing back into work, it feels like we are starting to slowly return to normality. Granted, there are still a lot of restrictions in place, but there has been an obvious shift in the conversations happening in the user research industry, with the remote research trend losing steam.

This indicates it might be time that we, as an industry, start thinking and talking about how to, when to, and even whether to return to face-to-face research. Although remote user research is a great option, it’s not perfect by itself and, like all other research methods, should not be used exclusively. Remote sessions can be affected by unstable internet connections, higher participant drop-off rates, it excludes the less tech-savvy people from taking part and informing the development of new products, it may be a huge challenge for some disabled users, etc.

To try and reconcile the results of both our surveys, we ran a webinar back in July 2020. You can watch it here:

During this online event, we focused on:

+ The results of our community survey: what kind of safety measures participants expect to see in place when attending in-person sessions, the demographics more willing to attend research, whether running research at this stage will influence participants’ opinions of your organisation, what kind of sessions participants are comfortable with right now, and more.

+ How user researchers and similar professionals currently feel regarding face-to-face research: the ethical point of view, the shift in industry trends we have noticed and reported on through social listening, the essential safety measures for researchers, and more.

How People for Research can help by analysing and sharing the data collected from both sides – the participants and the researchers – and how we plan to implement measures to keep our community safe while also ensuring you can make the most out of the research.



Jason Stockwell, Digital Insight Lead

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.