Top UX Research Firms in the US

February 22, 2024

UX research is pivotal in product development, guiding decisions towards user-centered solutions by understanding user needs, pain points, and behaviors. Depending on the varying needs of research and UX maturity, companies may have either established research workflows or opt to delegate research projects to research agencies that provide specialized expertise and resources.

In this blog, we introduce popular research agencies in the US along with key considerations to keep in mind when choosing one. Additionally, we delve into why more companies are adopting advanced research tools to conduct in-house research instead of hiring research agencies.

Overview of the best 12 research agencies and firms in the US

UX research agencies offer a range of services that can be tailored to meet your research needs. Each firm has its own specialty in terms of the type of research, industry, and product area. Before you explore which UX research agency to hire, we also recommend weighing the advantages of conducting in-house research to hiring UX research agencies as opting for a UX research tool affords greater flexibility and control in the research process at a lower cost.

Name Company Size Pricing Specializes In
Hubble 1 - 9 - Free to use
- Custom enterprise pricing
- Unmoderated Studies
- Usability Testing
- In-product Surveys
- Recruitment Panel
Nielsen Norman Group 10 - 49 - Starting project at $38K
- Competitive Review $75K
- Training
- UX Certificates
- Consulting
- Usability Testing
AnswerLab 101 - 250 Available upon request - Accessibility Research
- Benchmark Studies
- DEI Research
- Operations
Blink 101 - 250 - Starting project at $25K
- Hourly rate $200 - $300
- User Interviews
- Benchmark Studies
- Usability Testing
- Operations
NewtonX 10 - 49 Available upon request - B2B Market Research
- Consulting
- Mixed Methods
Guidea 10 - 49 Available upon request - Health Tech
- Ed Tech
- Fin Tech
- Consulting
Experiment Zone 10 -49 Available upon request - Website Audit
- eCommerce
- SaaS Platforms
- Conversion Optimization
UX Firm 1 - 9 Available upon request - E-Commerce Testing
- Usability Testing
- Expert Review
Marketade 1 - 9 Available upon request - Rolling Research
- Discovery Research
- Usability Testing
- Content Testing
ath Power 51 - 200 Available upon request - Survey
- Social Media Monitoring
- Customer Research
- Employee Training 
Adam Ford 10 - 49 - Starting project at $12K
- Hourly rate $50 - $99
- UX Audit
- Customer Research
- MVP Development
- Fin Tech, SaaS
Gartner 10,000 - 20,000 Available upon request  - Audit, Risk
- Strategic Planning
- Legal
- Product



List of research agencies and firms

1. Hubble

Hubble is a self-serve research platform that streamlines recruiting, designing studies, and analyzing data

Hubble is a unified UX research platform that empowers product teams independently run research studies and test design prototypes.

While Hubble doesn't offer research consulting services like the other firms listed below, it makes DIY research as intuitive as possible for product managers, designers, and other non-researchers to easily kickstart a research project with detailed research guides, templates, and dedicated customer support.

By leveraging the appropriate set of tools, your team can autonomously conduct research and testing without relying on third-party agencies. At a fraction of the cost and project lead times of hiring a research agency, you can streamline your research process, from planning and building the experiment to recruiting participants and analyzing data.

"Our research turnaround time has significantly decreased with Hubble, enabling us to test concepts within a day as opposed to waiting for weeks."

Joyce Iong
UX designer at Covered
Read the full customer story
  • 📍 Location: New York, US
  • 👥 Company Size: 1 - 9
  • 🤝 Main Services: Unmoderated Studies, Usability and Concept Testing, In-product Surveys, Recruitment Panel
  • 💰 Pricing: Free to start. Custom organization plans available upon request

Ditch agency fees, and start your research with Hubble

Take ownership to build your own surveys and usability studies

2. Nielsen Norman Group

Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) is a renowned research and consulting firm specializing in user experience (UX) research and design. The founders, Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman, are pioneers in the UX field and were the first to coin the term user experience in job titles. NN/g has been at the forefront of UX research for over two decades.

The company is known for its extensive research publications, usability studies, and training programs, which have significantly influenced the field of UX design. NN/g offers a wide range of services, including consulting, training workshops, and conferences, aimed at helping organizations improve the usability and effectiveness of their digital products and services.

  • 📍 Location: Delaware, US
  • 👥 Company Size: 10 - 49
  • 🤝 Main Services: Training, UX certificates, Consulting, User Testing, Expert Review
  • 💰 Pricing: Varies by services and complexity. A single platform (e.g., website or application): $38K; Multi-screens: $45K-65K; Competitor review (3 competitors): $75K

3. AnswerLab

AnswerLab is a leading user experience research firm that specializes in helping enterprise-level companies improve their digital products and services. The agency has over 250 professionals that support full range of service including UX research, research operations, and strategies.

The firm offers one-time research with a range of research methods, such as contextual inquiry, usability testing, diary studies, and more. It also specializes in topics like AI, accessibility research, DEI, and benchmark studies.

  • 📍 Location: Fremont, CA and New York
  • 👥 Company Size: 101 - 250
  • 🤝 Main Services: Accessibility Research, Benchmark Studies, Operations, DEI Research, Emerging Technologies
  • 💰 Pricing: Available upon request

4. Blink

Blink offers a wide range of services, including user research, usability testing, and interaction design. The firm's team of experienced researchers, designers, and strategists collaborates closely with clients including big tech companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. The firm provides a range of research and services based on various stages of product development and research needs.

  • 📍 Location: Seattle, WA
  • 👥 Company Size: 101 - 250
  • 🤝 Main Services: User Interviews, Benchmark Studies, Usability Testing, Operations, Contextual Inquiries, Diary Studies
  • 💰 Pricing: Starting project price at $25K. Approximate hourly rate $200 - $300

5. NewtonX

NewtonX is a B2B market research and user research firm specializing in conducting extensive quantitative surveys, facilitating qualitative interviews, offering long-term consultations, and delivering customized research solutions to address complex product challenges. Leveraging their up-to-date knowledge of B2B market research trends, NewtonX enables businesses to stay informed about the dynamic landscape of their industries.

  • 📍 Location: New York, US
  • 👥 Company Size: 10 - 49
  • 🤝 Main Services: B2B Market Research, Consulting, Quantitative Research, Mixed Methods
  • 💰 Pricing: Available upon request

6. Guidea

Guidea is a product design and UX consultancy assisting companies in complex industries especially in health tech. Employing a strategic product design approach, they consistently produce innovative, high-performing products. Guidea tailors their services to each team's specific needs, crafting a customized plan for every project spanning the four phases of their proprietary process.

  • 📍 Location: Texas, US
  • 👥 Company Size: 10 - 49
  • 🤝 Main Services: Health Tech, Ed Tech, Fin Tech, Consulting, Product Design and Strategy
  • 💰 Pricing: Available upon request

7. Experiment Zone

Experiment Zone is a UX research agency specializing in websites, SaaS software, and conversion rate optimization. They assist businesses in extracting greater value from their websites through research and conversion rate optimization (CRO) with services like A/B testing and analytics.

  • 📍 Location: Austin, TX
  • 👥 Company Size: 10 - 49
  • 🤝 Main Services: Website Audit, eCommerce, SaaS Platforms, Conversion Optimization
  • 💰 Pricing: Available upon request

8. UX Firm

UX Firm specializes in UX research and consulting, emphasizing usability studies as its core focus. With decades of experience, the firm offers comprehensive support to product teams and businesses, informing decision-making processes. Their range of services includes usability testing, human factors validation testing, B2B usability testing, and a suite of UX research tools designed to unveil user insights throughout the product development lifecycle.

  • 📍 Location: Atlanta, GA
  • 👥 Company Size: 1 - 9
  • 🤝 Main Services: Usability Testing, E-Commerce Testing, Expert Review
  • 💰 Pricing: Available upon request

9. Marketade

Marketade is a boutique agency that closely collaborates with clients on their rolling research initiatives. The firm offers either ongoing research or one-time study depending on research needs. Ongoing research helps your organization establish a consistent cadence of research protocol by working closely for a extended duration of time.

  • 📍 Location: Bethesda, MD
  • 👥 Company Size: 1 - 9
  • 🤝 Main Services: Rolling Research, Discovery Research, Usability Testing, Content Testing
  • 💰 Pricing: Available upon request

10. ath Power

ath Power has 20+ years of experience with its focus on improving profitability through various business metrics. The company specializes in customer retention, brand loyalty and advocacy, employee engagement, compliance, and performance monitoring. Another part of its body supports government projects including customer experience and employee engagement.

  • 📍 Location: MA, US
  • 👥 Company Size: 51 - 200
  • 🤝 Main Services: Survey, Social Media Monitoring, Customer Research, Employee Training
  • 💰 Pricing: Available upon request

11. Adam Fard

Adam Fard is a UX-centric consulting agency originally based in Germany. It boasts in supporting complex B2B products and enterprise apps, supporting research in various phases from MVP development to iterative usability studies. The company supports a range of research including both quantitative and qualitative studies.

  • 📍 Location: New York, US and Germany
  • 👥 Company Size: 10 -49
  • 🤝 Main Services: UX Audit, Customer Research, MVP Development, FinTech, SaaS
  • 💰 Pricing: Starting project price at $12K. Approximate hourly rate $50 - 99. AI-powered UX design review is available starting at $99

12. Gartner

Gartner is a global consultancy and advisory firm specializing in providing insights, analysis, and advisory services to help businesses make informed decisions. With a focus on technology and business strategy, Gartner offers a wide range of research reports, consulting services, and events tailored to various industries and sectors. It supports projects in over 100+ countries.

  • 📍 Location: CT, US
  • 👥 Company Size: 10,000 - 20,000
  • 🤝 Main Services: Audit & Risk, Strategic Planning, Legal, Product
  • 💰 Pricing: Available upon request



Factors to consider when hiring research agencies

Hiring UX research agencies offers several key advantages, such as unbiased perspectives and research expertise, to your research initiative. Nevertheless, choosing the right agency requires a significant investment of time and effort, meeting with multiple agencies, evaluating their strengths (years of experience, research methods, industry expertise), drafting RFPs, and carefully reviewing proposals. If you are considering to hire external research agencies, keep these essential tips in mind:

  1. Consider the location and working style of the agency. Time zone differences can impact communication and collaboration, so ensure that the agency's timezone and working style align with yours.
  2. Always do your homework to learn about which researcher will be handling your project on a day-to-day basis. Research agencies often have a diverse range of researchers, so it's essential to know who will be directly involved with your project and their level of expertise. We’ve seen how there could be a variability even within agencies as it is common for them to hire sub-contractors.
  3. Evaluate each agency's strengths and specialties. Some excel in exploratory research, while others may have extensive experience in evaluative research within specific industries. Meeting with multiple agencies allows you to assess their strengths and determine which one aligns best with your research needs.
  4. Consider the size of the agency. While larger consultancy firms may offer a wide range of services, smaller agencies often provide more personalized attention and maintain a roster of high-quality collaborators.
  5. Large consulting firms may loan out their collaborators temporarily and seek additional commission if you decide to hire them directly.
🖌️ Quick Tip
Make sure to meet with the researcher who will be responsible of your day-to-day work on your project as it is common for agencies to hire sub-contractors.

Why companies shift to in-house UX research tools

Working with external agencies may entail higher costs, longer project lead times, and challenges related to communication and alignment with the organization's goals and processes. Unlike external research agencies, in-house research involves committed product team members tasked with research to shape product development and design strategies. With an increasing number of companies opting for advanced research tools to execute research with greater flexibility and efficiency, conducting in-house research using the right set of research tools offers several compelling advantages over outsourcing to external agencies. Below are some key reasons why we suggest that you utilize research tools to facilitate DIY studies.

1. Plethora of advanced research tools

Advancements in digital research tools have significantly democratized the research process, making sophisticated research methodologies more accessible to internal teams. With the proliferation of intuitive research platforms, such as Hubble, User Testing, and User Interviews, product teams no longer need to rely solely on external expertise or agencies to conduct comprehensive research studies. Instead, they can leverage these self-service tools to design, execute, and analyze research projects autonomously, empowering teams to maintain full control over the research process while optimizing resource utilization and cost-efficiency.

These digital platforms specialize in and support different phases of research. Below are a few examples:

  • Hubble: focuses on enabling product teams to easily launch unmoderated studies and in-product surveys for contextual feedback from users real-time. It helps you streamline research from project design, participant recruitment, data collection, and data analysis in a single tool.
  • Hotjar: is a powerful web analytics tool that show how users interact with your website.
  • User Interviews: is a great tool for recruiting quality participants for your moderated studies.
🖌️ Quick Tip

2. Rich and detailed online resources and guides

From comprehensive tutorials on research methodologies to forums and communities where practitioners share insights and best practices, there is a wealth of knowledge available to assist internal teams in navigating the complexities of user research. By tapping into these resources, organizations can augment their research capabilities, enhance their methodological rigor, and stay abreast of the latest trends and developments in the field, ultimately fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the organization.

We have dedicated guides and blogs to share various research methodologies, techniques, and practices for how you can best leverage Hubble to streamline research at your organization.

3. Greater domain knowledge and involvement from stakeholders

In-house team members have extensive background knowledge gained through direct engagement with products and the industry. While product teams may lack research proficiency, their expertise in the industry, particularly in B2B or technical spaces, is invaluable for understanding user needs and the underlying problem space.

User research is a collaborative effort that requires constant communication. Unlike external collaborators, who may have limited access to organization directories, in-house teams enjoy direct access to key stakeholders, facilitating seamless communication and collaboration throughout the research process with the right set of research tools.

4. Owning your research and making direct impacts

Running DIY research allows product teams to directly own their research, data and insights, which fosters a deeper understanding of the user base and enables more agile responses to emerging trends and preferences. This level of ownership not only cultivates a stronger connection to users but also facilitates quicker research turnover, ensuring that insights are promptly translated into actionable strategies and product improvements.

In-house research with the appropriate set of research tools allows organizations to align their research efforts more closely with their strategic priorities. By integrating research seamlessly into internal workflows, teams can ensure that research initiatives are directly addressing key business objectives and driving meaningful outcomes. This alignment not only enhances the relevance and impact of research findings but also streamlines decision-making processes by providing timely and targeted insights to decision-makers.

5. Cost and time saving

Developing an internal research framework proves more economical compared to outsourcing to external entities. Hiring a research agency, especially for smaller businesses or startups operating on constrained budgets, can incur substantial expenses. These agencies often levy fees encompassing project initiation charges and hourly rates, which may strain financial resources.

Collaborating with external agencies also entails additional procedural intricacies that involve stakeholders to create and review requests for proposals (RFPs) across various research phases.

Unlike research agencies, many research tools offer free versions and trials to allow you to explore and assess their fit for your team.

Project lead times are significantly shorter with specialized UX research tools. For example, Hubble supports participant recruiting for unmoderated studies, allowing you to connect with qualifying participants in as short as 30 minutes. This stands in significant contrast to traditional recruiting agencies, which take at least 1-2 weeks to set up, recruit, and approve each participant.

Get started with DIY research with Hubble

1. Start small with lean research

Establishing a UX research protocol can feel overwhelming, but starting with small, focused projects is key. Hubble facilitates this approach by establishing a continuous user feedback cycle by keeping studies small and iterative. Teams can gradually build confidence and expertise in UX research without feeling daunted by large-scale projects.

2. Engage with users real-time for contextual feedback

Engaging with users in real-time through in-product surveys provides invaluable contextual feedback. If your team is at an early stage of establishing a research protocol, it can be an eye-opening experience for the entire product team when you start hearing from actual users. Hubble's in-product survey allows you to target users at specific events or user flows to help you gauge user satisfaction and feedback immediately.

3. Recruit participants in less than 30 minutes

Quick access to qualified participants is crucial for efficient research studies. With Hubble, you get direct access to over 3 million participants. This is a significant advantage over traditional agencies, where the average lead time for participant recruitment ranges from 1 to 2 weeks.

The quick turnover time in recruiting is particularly beneficial for studies that require specific criteria or a niche customer profile, such as specialized skills and B2B professionals.

Streamline research with the best in-class research tool

If you use the right set of tool, you can enable your team to conduct their own research and testing without having to work with a 3rd party agency. Hubble is designed so that product managers and product designers can easily launch studies, conduct research and validate their product assumptions without having to work with an external agency.

As a recap Hubble is a unified all-in-one research tool that allow product teams to recruit participants, design experiments, and collect and analyze data. It supports a wide range of research techniques suitable for different product development phases. In addition to the feature allowing you to conduct usability studies, Hubble offers other research methods, including concept testing, card sorting, A/B split testing, and in-product surveys.

Setting up studies in Hubble is made easy with pre-built templates and how-to guides to direct you to running a successful research project. You can customize the study and directly import Figma prototypes to collect feedback from users.

With the ability to recruit both live users for real-time feedback surveys and an external recruitment panel, you can efficiently distribute and collect data. The results are automatically summarized and visualized through video recordings, task success rates, heat maps, time spent on each task, and more.

Ditch agency fees, and start your research with Hubble

Take ownership to build your own surveys and usability studies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between in-house research and hiring a research agency?

In-house research refers to conducting user research activities using internal resources, such as in-house researchers, designers, and product teams. Hiring a research agency involves outsourcing research activities to an external organization or consultancy specializing in user research and UX design.

What are the pros and cons for hiring a research agency?

Pros:

  • Specialized expertise: Research agencies typically have specialized expertise in user research methodologies, UX design principles, and best practices.
  • Objectivity: Research agencies provide an external and objective perspective on user research initiatives. They can offer unbiased insights and recommendations free from internal biases or preconceptions.

Cons:

  • Cost: Hiring a research agency can be expensive, particularly for smaller organizations or startups with limited budgets. Research agencies typically charge fees for their services, which may include upfront project costs and hourly rates, adding to the overall project expenses.
  • Lack of internal context: Research agencies may lack deep knowledge of the organization's goals, objectives, and internal processes. This can sometimes result in research findings that are disconnected from the broader context of the organization's business goals and user needs.
  • Dependency on external partners: Relying on external research agencies can create a dependency on third-party vendors for critical research activities. Organizations may become reliant on the expertise and availability of external partners.
  • Communication challenges: Communication challenges can arise when working with external research agencies, particularly if there are differences in communication styles, time zones, or language barriers.
What are the typical costs associated with in-house research versus hiring a research agency?

The cost for each vary depending on factors such as the size and expertise of the internal team, the scope and complexity of the research project, and the rates charged by the research agency.

In-house research involves low direct costs but require investment in internal resources and infrastructure, while hiring a research agency may involve significantly higher upfront costs but provide access to specialized expertise and resources.

What other alternatives are there to hiring a research agency?

There are numerous user research tools, such as Hubble, UserTesting, User Interviews and Maze that are available today in the market (check out this article if you would like to learn more about Maze alternatives). They serve different stages of research and methodology depending on your project needs.

Many of the online tools are intuitive with low learning curves for product teams to easily kickstart their projects. Running your own research has many benefits over hiring a research agency.

To learn more, see the guide section.

Read other articles
Jin is a UX researcher at Hubble that helps customers collect user research insights. Jin also helps the Hubble marketing team create content related to continuous discovery. Before Hubble, Jin worked at Microsoft as a UX researcher. He graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from U.C. Berkekley and an M.S in Human Computer Interaction from University of Washington.

Related posts

Hubble vs. Maze

Hubble vs. Maze

13 best UserTesting alternatives

13 best UserTesting alternatives

Challenges and best practices for recruiting B2B participants in user research

Challenges and best practices for recruiting B2B participants in user research