UXPA UK are always keen to provide resources and information for the benefit of the UX Community. People for Research is an organisation dedicated to user recruitment for the UX sector. Jess Lewes, Director of Projects, presents her 5 tips for successful user recruitment.
Testing with users is a part of the UX process. Sometimes, this stage gets cut when working to a budget; and sometimes it becomes an unexpected part of the process once a prototype or concept is ready to test. One thing is for sure: it is never the same.
Here are some tips, based on my experience of working in recruitment for over six years, that should help to protect your testing and ensure that when you do recruit users that they are relevant, they attend on the day, and that they give you the best testing possible. Regardless of whether you are recruiting yourself, or you are lucky enough to have some support with this time-consuming task.
1. Plan time for recruitment
Two weeks is generally a good timeframe for recruitment, starting with the day that the recruitment requirements are confirmed to the day you would like to test. This allows time for sending out communications to your desired user group, whether that be on an email to your customers, using a social media channel to source people, or through your preferred recruitment partner. This timeframe should also allow users to move things around in their diaries, such as booking time off work to attend your testing.
If you are able to allow longer, then this is only ever a good thing, so include this in your overall project plan.
2. Write a killer recruitment brief
Recruitment is only ever as good as your recruitment brief. It is essential to think through different scenarios, and nail down each part of your brief. Otherwise, you may end up testing with someone who doesn’t have the behaviour you had assumed they had. For example, does someone shop ‘infrequently’ online? To someone who is friends with shopaholics, ‘infrequent’ may mean once or twice per month. To another person, ‘infrequently’ may mean once or twice per year.
If someone else is doing the recruitment, it is a good idea to write a brief and then schedule time to talk through each requirement so you are both on the same page.
3. Be flexible
Be prepared to flex on some of the recruitment criteria. I suggest working out what is most essential to your testing and what is just ‘nice to have’.
Not everyone is willing to participate in testing, no matter how good the incentive. Of those who are interested, many may not be available on the day you are hoping to run the testing. Testing is always limited by these factors. This is why the lead time you allocate to recruitment can really make or break your testing.
4. Keep the momentum going
If you know that you are likely to run ongoing testing over several iterations, keep the recruitment drive running consistently. Recruiting can be a bit like fishing, some days you will cast your net and catch loads of fish, but some days all you will get is a bit of driftwood.
Try and work out rough dates for each round of testing, and try where possible to stick to these dates. This way, if you find someone who is really representative of your user group, but they are unavailable for the next testing date, you can book them in for the following round of testing.
5. Offer an appropriate incentive
It is only fair to offer some sort of incentive or compensation to the people who participate in your testing. Not only are they taking time out of their day, and possibly paying out money to get to you, but their input will have a valuable impact on your testing. This impact deserves recognition.
Typically, cash is the best incentive because it is universal. It is also inadvisable to offer client goods or services as an incentive as this is likely to bias the testing. The average incentive amount for a one-hour testing session in the UK is £50 per person. This value ensures interest in your project and good attendance rates on the day.
Jess has over six years’ experience in the recruitment sector, and has been recruiting participants for UX research and usability testing for over three years. For more information or advice on recruiting users for testing get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.