Join Chris Nodder for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding the right participants, part of UX Foundations: Usability Testing.
- There are two ways of finding participants for your study. One, is to do it yourself. The other is to pay somebody to recruit them for you. If you have more time on your hands than available money, you'll probably be doing it yourself. First, you have to work out what attributes your study participant should have. Then, you need to find a large number of people who are interested in helping you out, and match them against your attributes. We'll talk in detail about the participant attributes that you should look for in the next video.
But for now, just remember it probably won't work very well just dragging people in off the street to be participants in your usability study. You'll have specific recruiting requirements based on your product, the questions you have, your location, and whether you're looking at making your existing customers happy, or at acquiring new ones. There are many ways of finding suitable people to be participants. You could use classified ads on sites like Craigslist. You can run online ads using Google AdWords, or physical ads in locations like supermarkets, libraries, and other places with bulletin boards.
You could use online forums or social media. Here, it's best to direct people to a page on your site so they know that the posting is legitimate. If you've planned ahead, you could add an "I'll give feedback" product improvement checkbox to your registration and "Contact Us" forms. You might be able to persuade your sales team to let you contact some existing customers who would be open to this sort of research. You could obviously also advertise for participants on your site. But be aware that if you do this you'll be introducing what's called selection bias.
In other words, the people who come to your site have already self selected themselves as being interested in your company. So they have more knowledge of your products than the general population will. And that could mean they behave differently than people who've never been exposed to your products before. You'll need to start recruiting at least one to two weeks before the scheduled study. It'll take time to find enough people. Even if you end up with a long list of potential participants it's hard to find individuals who will be available at the exact times you need them to turn up. I normally work on the assumption that I'll be calling about ten people for each participant I end up scheduling for any given study.
That means you'll need a participant database of at least 50 and preferably many more individuals to draw from. If you have the money, it's much easier to use an existing recruiting company. It's not cheap. Costs for recruiting each participant can run from $100 to $300, and that doesn't include the participant gratuity. However, the company does everything for you. From initial finding suitable participants through giving the directions on how to get to your location and even calling them to remind them to show up.
If you add up all the time it'll take you to do these tasks, that cost could seem very worthwhile. Here's one tip if you decide to use a recruiting company. They're often used to scheduling focus groups, so it helps if you use the industry jargon and tell them you're running individual in-depth interviews, so they know to only schedule one participant for each slot. For your first couple of studies until you've convinced someone to give you the budget to use an external recruiter, you'll most likely be doing all the recruiting yourself.
The rest of this course makes the assumption that you're recruiting participants yourself. Even if you do use an external recruiter, you'll still need to be aware of the same issues, and you'll still need to give your recruiter a set of participant attributes and potential recruiting questions.
- What is usability testing?
- Finding the right participants
- Making a screener
- Asking the right questions
- Avoiding bias
- Making a task list
- Creating the test environment
- Running a pilot study
- Moderating sessions
- Capturing real-time observations
- Analyzing and reporting your results