Tools & Research Ops
7 Best Panel Management Tools for UX Research
Written by: Phil Hesketh
Panel management software helps you build highly targeted research panels, streamline repetitive admin tasks, and get better results from your studies.
Below, I've compiled a list of seven absolutely amazing panel management tools to consider for your next project.
But first, let's get something straight...
You need to do a ridiculous amount of things to get a research study going. But the most important of all, of course, is to find relevant people to share their insights and opinions with you.
You can do that in several ways, of course.
You could use a third-party research recruitment agency.
You could also try inviting existing customers to help.
Or you could build your own research panel, which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is by far the most beneficial approach.
The problem? Building and managing a panel can be a job in itself. And I doubt that it’s the aspect of a research project you’re most excited about.
That’s why, in this guide, I’ll show you seven brilliant panel management platforms that could help you streamline the process.
So, to begin at the beginning…
What is panel management software?
Research this term - panel management software - and you’re likely to get several different definitions.
Some people call these tools “gateways to their panel.”Others say that such tools help companies learn more about their audience.
Each of those definitions carries some truth, of course. But I prefer a simpler approach. To me, as a product category - panel management tools - allows you to achieve two objectives:
Grow and maintain your research community with relatively little effort and
Streamline and automate repetitive admin tasks so that you can focus on the stuff that really matters to you - conducting the actual research.
That said, these tools deliver more than just a way to recruit participants faster.
With panel management tools, you will also:
Build highly targeted panels. Building your own panel allows you to choose participants from very specialist audiences, such as people with very specific lived experiences or skill sets applicable to the product or service.
Ensure better quality data. Keeping the data clean and relevant (this is a huge part of panel management and why people move away from spreadsheets (e.g., merging duplicates, letting people amend their own data, etc.)
Get better results from your studies. Since you’ll be able to select highly targeted participants, you will also collect better feedback and results from your studies. And you will complete projects faster.
Be able to launch research projects more frequently. That’s because panel management tools let you build and maintain a research community. You can tap into that pool of already identified and screened research participants every time you plan a new research project.
Is all panel management software the same? Can I just pick the first tool from your list below and be done with this research?
No, unfortunately, I don’t think that would work.
It’s true - Most such platforms would offer certain similar capabilities, of course. However, they would also differ in terms of features and even how they approach panel management, for example:
All-in-one platforms would help you manage the entire process, for example. These tools would offer features to help you recruit and manage panels, conduct the actual research, synthesize the data, and so on.
Smaller platforms, on the other hand, would focus on helping you manage particular aspects of the process like recruitment, consent management, and data governance.
Finally, some such tools exist as a part of larger platforms that include other capabilities, beyond just UX research.
Your choice, therefore, should depend on what aspects of the panel management process you want to streamline.
Below, I’ve listed some of the best panel management software on the market, and explained what features and benefits each platform offers.
Hopefully, the list will provide you with some good choices to research and select for your next project. So, without any further ado…
Here are 7 best panel management tools for UX researchers
ConsentKit (disclaimer - this is our product) is a compliance first CRM for user research. We’ve built it to help research ops streamline a whole range of processes, from recruitment, consent management, to democratizing research.
From our customers we know that, on average, ConsentKit saves researchers 45 minutes per participant while keeping records in line with GDPR.
However, that’s not the only benefit you get from using our product. Consent Kit helps researchers to manage projects, documents, eSignatures, subject access requests, data retention policies, and research panels.
Here’s a quick overview of ConsentKit’s various features and capabilities.
ConsentKit - features
Live real-time accessible consent forms.
WCAG 2.1AA compliance out of the box.
Adaptive digital signatures.
Shareable recruitment surveys.
Automatic data validation and cleaning.
Merge of duplicates.
Option to democratize access.
Search and filters for screener survey answers.
Access for panelists to update their own data.
Email templates and mail merge.
Auto-reminders to delete data.
Role-based permissions, and more.
Consent Kit is a user research CRM that helps research ops manage research projects more efficiently. With ConsentKit, organizations can become compliant with data protection regulations while making their research admin accessible and inclusive.
UserInterviews is a recruitment platform that promises to connect you with participants quickly when you need to build a new research panel. To deliver on this promise, UserInterviews offers a whole range of features to let you, as they claim on the website, start recruiting in minutes, and have your participants ready for the study in hours.
2.4 million participants to choose from
Advanced participant scoring system
Fraud detection system
Targeting options including industry, job titles, demographics, location, technology, etc.
Custom screener surveys
Incentives distribution and management
Participant research history tracking
Ability to build your own panel with CSV uploads
Customizeable opt-in forms
Rich user profiles
Calendar synchronization, reminder messages, email notifications, bulk emails and text messages, and more.
Because of its focus on participant recruitment, UserInterviews is an ideal solution for research ops that need to continuously find new panelists and maintain large research panels.
GreatQuestion is an all-in-one customer research platform, meaning that its capabilities include not only panel management but also the ability to run and synthesize your research. With GreatQuestion, you can build your research panel, schedule customer research, and then, create a research repository of all the feedback, synthesize it, and turn it into actionable insights.
Branded communications incl. The ability to create custom landing pages for the whole panel or a specific study
Rich candidate profiles
User research methods templates
Transcription, and more.
Given how robust GreatQuestion is, it’s a perfect tool for researchers looking to use just a single tool to manage the entire research process and results.
Qualtrics is a well-known brand offering customers a whole range of tools and platforms to manage anything from brand to employee to customer experience, and more. As part of its CoreXM platform, Qualtrics also offers panel management software.
Qualtrics’ panel management tool lets you recruit participants, build a custom panel, reward those people for their participation, and collect responses. That said, many of Qualtrics tools are also geared towards market research, rather than user research.
Rich customer profiles
I admit that if viewed on its own, the Qualtrics’ panel management software doesn’t look as impressive as other tools on this list. But if you combine it with features from other platforms, it can deliver powerful capabilities to help manage research panels.
Much like ConsentKit, Ethnio is a user research CRM that helps you manage participant panels easily. With Ethnio, you can keep track of participant research history, segment and filter your database, distribute incentives, and do pretty much all the things you need to manage the panel.
It’s worth noting, though, that certain panel management features, like the central participant database, are only available to Ethnio’s enterprise customers.
Centralized database of participant interactions (Enterprise only)
Advanced database filters (Enterprise only)
Opt-ins and intercepts
Participant communications history
Ethnio is a robust user research CRM with all the features you’d need to build and manage a panel. However, some of the core capabilities are restricted to enterprise plans only, making the platform less accessible to smaller research teams.
At first sight, Alchemer messaging makes it look more like a robust but pretty standard survey or voice of the customer tool than a panel management software. But the platform also offers a whole range of features to identify, access and manage your research panel. Some of this is done through third-party integrations with panel providers. On top of that, Alchemer also offers proprietary tools to upload a list of participants, manage their information, communicate with them, and more.
Integrations with panel providers
Email, SMS, and video communication
Robust survey engine
Alchemer is primarily a feedback collection platform. However, its integration with panel providers, and panel management features may make it a tool to consider, particularly if you also plan to run surveys as part of your research project.
Panelfox is all about helping you get more participants for your studies. The tool allows you to create signup forms, build participants’ rich profiles with several properties like text, checkboxes, dropdowns, and more. Panelfox features advanced filters to help you find the right sample for your project, review a participant’s project history, manage their consent, etc.
Participant signup forms
Search filters and participant history
Email and SMS communications
Incentives management, and more.
Panelfox is a robust participant recruitment platform that provides most of the capabilities you’d need to find and schedule participants for your next project.
And that’s it…
Now you know seven of the best panel management tools that could help you launch the next UX study. All that’s left is to research them further and see which one best aligns with your project needs.