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How UX studio uses Hotjar Engage to recruit the right research participants faster and more effectively

UX studio is a strategic UI/UX design and research consultancy running in-depth research initiatives to help clients optimize their product experience. As a key part of their services, the UX studio team conducts interviews and testing sessions with real people, using these insights to refine clients’ designs and provide personalized solutions.

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Last updated

9 Oct 2023

Reading time

5 min


UX studio 🤝 Hotjar Engage: a summary

UX studio’s requirements:

Solving the issue:

  • After a few years of using Hotjar Engage (previously PingPong) ad-hoc, the UX studio team subscribed to the platform, making it their go-to tool for user interviews and testing

Outcomes and results:

  1. Recruitment time decreased from 2–3 weeks to 1–2 days 

  2. Researchers could recruit a diverse range of participants from underrepresented locations

  3. Engage’s 200,000+ participant pool enabled the team to source people who fit highly specific profiles

Founded in 2013, UX studio today employs a team of UI/UX designers and researchers serving clients like Netflix, Cisco, and HBO. 

Barbara Bicskei, a Studio Lead, and Zita Gombár, a UX Researcher, are two of the 30-plus UX studio team members who have made Hotjar Engage their go-to tool to run successful research projects.

A dedicated research arm for customer-obsessed businesses

UX studio researchers like Zita and Barbara are brought in to complete fixed-term research projects or support clients full-time for extended periods. This setup means long-term collaboration with every client—researchers participate in team meetings, work closely with design and product teams, and play the role of in-house UX expert for as long as clients need them. At any given time, UX studio runs multiple research projects at every stage of product development for a diverse range of clients. 

To run effective initiatives, the team requires participants for several types of user research projects, including

More research projects, more challenges

Before Engage, recruitment for each research project was manual and, depending on the target audience, lengthy. The UX studio team would search for participants via social media, advertising, and forums, and had the intention of building their own participant pool. But that goal proved easier said than done.

“We have different clients from different industries—we’re interviewing everyone from lawyers and PR professionals to football fans. Given the wide range of profiles we needed for the projects, we had to look for an alternative solution to help with recruitment,” Barbara explains.

As the business and its client base expanded, UX studio had three critical requirements:

  1. 🚀 Faster recruitment: manual participant recruitment on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit was time-consuming

  2. 🌍 A global participant pool: bigger clients meant bigger projects, and the team needed a recruitment solution for projects spanning several countries and languages

  3. 🪡 More precise recruitment: with more clients from B2B sectors, research needs were more specific, and recruiting the right participants became increasingly challenging

They could carry on as they were—or try something different. “In the end, it was easier to go with Engage,” says Barbara.

Reducing a weeks-long recruitment process to one day

Recruitment for highly focused UX projects is a significant challenge for a UI/UX design and research consultancy like UX studio. “It’s always very hard to recruit the right people, for example for a B2B product,” Zita explains. “I’ve tried methods like social media, forums, and ads. In previous projects, I’ve spent up to two weeks finding just a few applicants.”

Access to Engage’s 200,000-strong participant pool has made recruitment easier and faster, immensely improving Zita’s day-to-day.

Engage allows me to do my job—the research tasks—and not spend my time recruiting.

Zita Gombár
UX Researcher

When the right participants for a particular project are available, “recruitment in Engage takes just one or two days.”

Engage’s automatic compensation has also proven convenient for researchers. “When it comes to compensation, I don’t have to think about it,” says Zita. The ability to instantly adjust the compensation amount for each participant without needing to reach out to support is a crucial feature for UX studio.

#Setting up a new interview in Hotjar Engage couldn’t be easier
Setting up a new interview in Hotjar Engage couldn’t be easier

Sourcing participants from a range of locales

UX studio supports businesses worldwide, so research projects often require participants outside the US and UK. One of the main reasons UX studio has happily stuck with Engage for the past three years is the diversity of participants and locations.

Engage is good for us because we have clients from different countries. Some regions are very difficult for recruitment, but with Engage, we’ve found people everywhere, from Norway to Brazil to India.

Barbara Bicskei
Studio Lead

When it’s time to review their tools and investigate potential alternatives, the UX studio team repeatedly runs into the same issue: most other user interview tools focus on English-speaking countries. 

“For a multi-country project, we had to run 40 interviews in a short amount of time. Without Engage, doing it manually, it wouldn’t have been possible,” Barbara says.

How Engage supports UX studio’s internal product team

It’s not only UX studio’s researchers and clients benefiting from Engage’s participant pool. 

Aside from providing research and design services, UX studio builds three of its own products: Uxfol.io, Copyfol.io, and Archifol.io, portfolio-builder tools for different professions. UX studio’s internal product team also uses Engage to improve the product experience of these tools.

Uxfol.io, one of UX studio’s products

Finding the right people for the right project

Since using Engage, Zita has been completely satisfied with the platform’s ability to match her with the right participants regardless of industry, role, and seniority.

Working with a recent client in the legal field, she ran semi-regular recruitment rounds once or twice a month, requiring a different set of people for each. Engage enabled her to recruit everyone from junior legal assistants to director-level professionals working at enormous law firms in highly specialized fields.

Even when we have a big range within a target profile, we're able to find the right people with Engage.

Zita Gombár
UX Researcher

Helping clients build better digital products with Hotjar Engage

Several projects ago, UX studio leveraged Engage’s participant pool to streamline and optimize a client’s payment process. The client was confident in its system and believed everything was functioning as it should.

The usability testing sessions revealed a host of technical issues within their existing payment process. Participants interacted with elements in unexpected ways, and encountered blockers when setting up two-factor authentication on mobile devices. 

Barbara says it was incredibly revealing. “Because the testing required participants to leave the client’s desktop website and perform actions offline, like going on their mobiles and using their credit card, these sessions surfaced information the client could not have anticipated.”

These types of discoveries aren’t easy to come by, and they’re the reason so many businesses choose to partner with UX studio. They’re also the reason UX studio chooses to partner with Hotjar.

Hotjar Engage is just the beginning

UX studio used Hotjar Engage to make inclusive user research faster and easier. With Heatmaps, Recordings, Surveys, and Feedback rounding out our suite of tools, there are so many more ways to get user-centric insights from Hotjar. Get started for free to give your users what they want and need.