This video discusses the best practices for finding, screening, and scheduling participants for user experience research sessions. Not only will you have to find participants and screen them to ensure that they represent your user base, but there are scheduling tips to help you maximize your chance of success.
- Your next step is to find appropriate research participants. If you work in-house and have an existing user base, see if you can find ways to reach out to them, such as adding a research panel invite on the site, or sending an e-mail asking for volunteers. If you're working on a product that doesn't yet have users, or an outside resource, you'll have to be a bit more creative about finding the right participants. If you have budget, there are specialty participant recruiting firms that you can hire to find you very specific users. Either way, you'll need to ensure that you screen participants to make sure that they are truly representative of your users.
Think back to the personas and the key attributes that distinguish each one. Back to the example of building an expense tracking application for businesses. Perhaps you have frequent business travelers who always want to upload their numerous receipts on the go, but you also have office workers who only purchase software for the company, and find it easiest to set aside one time each month to process everything. In order to ensure that the right types of users are represented, you'll have to create a screener that attempts to understand participants' roles and behaviors without making the desired trait too obvious.
You also want to try to keep the screener very short, and focus just on the key identified information. I've included a screener template in the exercise files that you can use to get started, and customize for your needs. For more information on the best way to screen and qualify participants, please check out chapter two of the Foundations of UX: Usability Testing Course. If you're working in-house, it can be helpful to set up an ongoing screener, so that you have identifying information for anyone who gets added to your participant database.
That way, any time you need to do research, you can search your database for a particular set of characteristics, and only reach out to those who match. Keep in mind that regardless of whether your participants are existing or potential users, it's standard to offer monetary compensation for their time. While you don't want participants to be motivated solely by money, incentives demonstrate your appreciation. Incentives range widely based on the complexity of the tasks of the research, length of time involved, and how specific of a persona type is needed.
For instance, you might offer $10 to someone in a quick survey that is for anybody over 40, but you might offer $150 when you need to spend an hour interviewing and observing medical professionals in an emergency setting. When doing any kind of ethnographic or field research, you'll also have to consider that you'll need to get permission to enter workplaces, especially anything with sensitive information, such as medical offices or financial institutions. Most places are happy to let you observe, but they might ask you to sign a privacy agreement.
It's not usually a big deal, but you do need to bake in time to ask and receive permission. Finally, if you're going to do moderated research of any kind, you need to carefully consider your schedule. This step is often overlooked, but it's very crucial in performing successful UX research. The first thing you need to consider is creating a schedule that will work well for your participants. For instance, if you need to talk to mothers of children ages six to ten, it's unlikely that they'll be able to meet with you first thing in the morning when they're trying to get their kids ready for school.
On the other hand, if you need to talk to legal professionals, it's likely that they'll be busy during the normal work hours, and more free after 5pm. Secondly, you'll need to schedule sessions that make it possible for you to invite team members and stakeholders to observe sessions. While that's not always possible, it's very helpful to allow others to hear feedback first hand and to be able to discuss additional questions that come up as you go. In order to adjust during sessions, you'll also need to schedule ample time, at least a half an hour, in between sessions so that you can recap and redirect.
Having ample time in between sessions also gives you a buffer in case a participant is early or late, time to reset or adjust technical elements, and take personal breaks so that you can stay focused throughout the day. Even those of us who have many years of experience are often exhausted by full days with back to back sessions. It's also helpful to make sure that you schedule debrief sessions immediately following the conclusion, so that you can share ideas while they're still fresh and distill key findings.
It's also important to make sure the team takes time to discuss findings and their impact on possible solutions, so that you all make the best of what you find. The last thing to consider when scheduling is that it's very rare that every participant scheduled will show up as planned. People will always run late, have things come up, or just plain not show. A good rule of thumb is to invite one extra participant for every five or so. To offset the chances of no-shows, I highly recommend reminder e-mails and phone calls a few days before and the day of the session.
This course introduces the fundamentals of user experience research so that anyone can understand the benefits and start integrating research into their everyday design and development process. Start watching to learn how to use UX research to find the answers to the most basic questions about your customers—who, what, when, why, and how—and drive better user experiences and business outcomes.
- An overview of research methods, including usability testing, interviewing, eye tracking, surveys, and many more
- A review of the main types of research, including quantitative and qualitative, behavioral and attitudinal, and moderated vs. unmoderated
- Determining the right methodologies based on organizational environment, client type, and project stage
- Targeting the right research participants
- Crafting the right questions in the right way
- Analyzing and presenting your data