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  • Olga Wolska-Płonka

Navigating UX Research on a Budget: Maximizing Insights without Breaking the Bank

Conducting impactful UX research on a limited budget is possible by strategically planning research goals, leveraging existing resources, utilizing remote and guerrilla research methods, engaging your own customers, utilizing online tools and platforms, and embracing agile and iterative research approaches. These strategies help businesses optimize resources and make informed design decisions while meeting user needs and expectations.

What is the cost of research?

The expenses involved in conducting a study are determined by various factors such as research methodology, tools and software, recruitment of participants, research team, and whether it is conducted online or in a lab. For instance, the cost of conducting usability testing ranges between $500 to $30,000 or even more, depending on the chosen approach. Opting for a live test through an agency that recruits participants and moderates it can be quite expensive while conducting usability testing through online software on your own, as recommended by NN Group, can cost between $250 to $1,700.


Practical Strategies for Success

Designing products and services that meet the needs and expectations of users is essential, and UX research plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. However, conducting comprehensive UX research can be a challenge for many organizations, especially startups or small businesses with limited budgets. Despite these obstacles, it's still possible to carry out impactful UX research without compromising on quality and effectiveness.

Below you can find practical strategies and cost-effective techniques that businesses can use to conduct UX research on a budget and make informed design decisions while maximizing available resources.

Plan Strategically

A solid plan is crucial to ensure that UX research aligns with business objectives and budget limitations. Begin by defining research goals and specific questions to be answered. Narrowing down the scope and focusing on the most critical areas will optimize research efforts and budget. Prioritize research activities based on their potential impact on product success. Identify the core user tasks and pain points that require immediate attention and concentrate on those areas.

Leverage Existing Resources

Maximize the resources already available within your organization. Conduct an internal review of past research, customer feedback, and analytics data to gather existing insights. This can provide a foundation for your research and help identify knowledge gaps. Engage team members and stakeholders in discussions and brainstorming sessions to generate ideas and hypotheses. Utilize their knowledge and perspectives to inform your research approach and focus.

Remote and Guerrilla Research

Consider remote usability testing as a cost-effective alternative to in-person testing. Numerous online platforms allow you to recruit participants, conduct tests remotely, and collect valuable feedback without the need for a physical lab setup. Guerrilla research refers to conducting quick, informal user tests in public places like cafes, libraries, or co-working spaces. This approach can yield valuable insights with minimal cost, allowing for observing real-world interactions and capturing genuine user behaviour.

Research with your own customers

If you have an established customer base, it's a valuable resource that can help you conduct research. By engaging them in different research activities using their contact information, you can gain valuable insights to inform your business decisions. You can request their participation in surveys, interviews, or user testing sessions to gather these insights. An effective approach is to incentivize their involvement with a small reward, such as a discount on your products or services or a gift card. This will encourage their participation and show your appreciation for their time and input. By providing an attractive incentive, you can increase the likelihood of receiving higher response rates and more comprehensive feedback.

Utilize Online Tools and Platforms

In today's digital age, there are a variety of cost-effective UX research tools and platforms available. These tools can assist in simplifying research procedures, collecting and analyzing data, and collaborating with team members who work remotely. For instance, Google Forms and Typeform offer free plans for surveys and questionnaires that can help capture valuable user feedback. Tools like Lookback, Validately, and TryMyUI offer remote usability testing at reasonable costs. Heatmap and click-tracking tools such as Smartlook and Hotjar can also provide important insights into user behaviour on your website or application. However, even basic tools like Teams or Zoom can be utilized to conduct interviews and testing, albeit with more difficulty compared to specialized software. Nonetheless, when resources are scarce, these measures can still get the job done.

Embrace Agile and Iterative Research

Adopting an agile and iterative approach to research can be highly cost-effective. Rather than conducting one extensive research study, break it down into smaller, focused studies. This allows for quick validation and iteration, ensuring that the design decisions are rooted in user feedback. Continuously gathering feedback and making iterative improvements can refine the user experience while staying within budget. This approach also reduces the risk of investing resources in features or functionalities that may not resonate with users.


Conducting impactful UX research on a budget is possible. With careful planning, leveraging existing resources, and adopting cost-effective techniques, businesses can optimize their available resources while conducting impactful research. Embracing remote research, utilizing online tools and platforms, and adopting agile and iterative research are all effective methods to achieve this goal.


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