How to hire user research studios on the Digital Marketplace

Find a supplier who can provide a user research studio through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework.

Finding a user research studio through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework is different from buying digital outcomes, specialists and user research recruitment.

1. Before you start

Write your requirements

Your requirements should include:

  • a title
  • organisation the work is for, for example Lewisham Council
  • the area, town or city where you want to do your research
  • how easy it is for people to get to the studios, for example within 5 minutes walk of public transport
  • facilities needed, for example the size of viewing room or eye tracking software
  • any assisted digital or accessibility needs of your research participants
  • when you expect the research to start and end
  • how often you want to do research
  • when the sessions will take place, for example weekdays, evenings or weekends
  • the importance you place on each criteria, for example 30% on price and 70% on location and facilities

You should also think about including:

  • expected contract length
  • budget range
  • which of your criteria are must-have and which are nice-to-have
  • how long suppliers will have to respond to your requirements
  • how and when you’ll run an optional question and answer session (so you can talk to suppliers and quickly answer any questions they have about the requirements)

Read about how to write requirements for Digital Outcomes and Specialists services.

Get budget approval

You must get budget approval before you start the buying process.

If you’re buying for central government, you have to go through the digital and IT spend control process before you publish your requirements on the Digital Marketplace.

If you’re buying for a public sector organisation outside of central government, you must get any internal approval you need.

Set evaluation criteria

Tell suppliers:

  • how you’re going to evaluate them
  • the weightings you’ll use for evaluation

You must evaluate on price and technical competence, for example whether they have the facilities you need.

Read about how to set your evaluation criteria.

2. Find a user research studio

You can find a list of studio suppliers on the Digital Marketplace.

The requirements template shows the information you can provide to suppliers to define your specific requirements.

Create a shortlist

Download the list of user research studios.

Filter the studios by location and your requirements to create a shortlist to choose the suppliers that best meet your needs. You can have a shortlist of one if no other suppliers meet your needs.

Keep a record of your shortlist for your audit trail.

Contact the suppliers on your shortlist

Email to get contact details for the suppliers on your shortlist.

Send your requirements and evaluation criteria to shortlisted suppliers.

Answer supplier questions

You must:

  • share all questions and answers with all shortlisted suppliers
  • remove any reference to the supplier’s name or any confidential information about the supplier
  • give an individual response to each question, even when questions are similar
  • answer all questions at least one working day before the closing date for applications to give suppliers time to decide if the work is right for them
  • get commercial or legal advice if you do not think you’ll be able to answer, or have not answered, all the questions at least one working day before the closing date for applications
  • keep a record of all questions and answers for your audit trail, for example save emails

Suppliers will tell you if they can meet your requirements.

Evaluate and make a decision

You must not review any responses before the closing date.

Evaluate suppliers responses on:

  • how they meet your essential and nice-to-have requirements
  • location, facilities and accessibility
  • price

You can exclude suppliers that:

  • do not have a studio available when you need it
  • do not meet all your essential requirements
  • cost more than your budget

3. Award a contract

Notify the successful supplier

Tell the successful supplier you’ll award them a contract.

Read about how to award a contract.

Notify unsuccessful suppliers

Suppliers need to know if and why they weren’t successful so they can plan for other work and improve any future applications they make. You must:

  • tell unsuccessful suppliers that you won’t be awarding them a contract
  • give feedback explaining why a supplier was unsuccessful, including the advantages of the successful bid compared to the unsuccessful bid
  • give positive feedback where appropriate
  • give the scores of the winning supplier
  • not share details of other unsuccessful suppliers’ scores
  • give only the final agreed scores, not individual evaluator scores

If you don’t find the right supplier

You do not have to award a contract if you cannot find a suitable supplier. You should tell all remaining suppliers that:

  • you have not found one that meets your needs
  • you are not going to award a contract

Publish the contract on Contracts Finder

You must publish details of all completed contracts on Contracts Finder.

You need to sign in to your account first. If you do not have an account, register as a buyer on Contracts Finder.

Published 19 April 2016
Last updated 1 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance for consistency with other guides, including a new requirements template

  2. Changed instances of 'user research labs' to 'user research studios' for consistency with other guides.

  3. The Digital Marketplace support email has changed to

  4. Added link to Digital Outcomes and Specialists call-off contract

  5. First published.