Getting users outside of your company

11 Feb 2006 - 8:08pm
8 years ago
7 replies
697 reads
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

Most of my career so far has been spent designing and developing
products for speciific audiences, like the HR department at an airline
or something, so I've always had quick access to a product's target
users. Next week, however, I'll be starting a new gig where I'll be
tasked with performing IxD and usability testing for commercial
software, which is/will be used by many types of completely different
users, all of which are decentralized to such an extreme that one
person could be a potato farmer from Idaho and another could be the
head of a startup that sells mechanical pencils.

So my question to you cats is this: What steps do you take to find
people with which to perform usability tests when your audience is not
a specific group?

Thanks very much for any suggestions.

-r-

Comments

11 Feb 2006 - 9:19pm
Taneem Talukdar
2005

This could be viewed as a non-answer...

No matter how diverse these people may be, they all share at least one thing
in common: a need to use your product. So that does put them in a group, but
an unusually diverse one. In that case, a solution may be to try and perform
some segmentation analysis and recruit from the differently segments
proportionally. Between the potato farmer and the startup guy there are
multiple different characteristics you can use to cateorize types of people:
income, training, motivation, past user experience, environment etc. It is
unlikely that you will identify more than a handful of really different
categories simply because not that many categories exist in society (from
the perspective of differences in use of information systems).

Once you get to this level you can then either test intensively within
specific segments or extensively across the spectrum of your users.

I have organized usability testing for a product with a very general
userbase and found, of course, that all kinds of people will share the same
problems and (mis)-conceptions...

Regards,
Taneem Talukdar

On 2/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Most of my career so far has been spent designing and developing
> products for speciific audiences, like the HR department at an airline
> or something, so I've always had quick access to a product's target
> users. Next week, however, I'll be starting a new gig where I'll be
> tasked with performing IxD and usability testing for commercial
> software, which is/will be used by many types of completely different
> users, all of which are decentralized to such an extreme that one
> person could be a potato farmer from Idaho and another could be the
> head of a startup that sells mechanical pencils.
>
> So my question to you cats is this: What steps do you take to find
> people with which to perform usability tests when your audience is not
> a specific group?
>
> Thanks very much for any suggestions.
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

11 Feb 2006 - 9:46pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

Great answer, actually, and I have considered these points myself -
thanks for the great input.

But yeah, I'm looking more specificallly for information about how to
*get* the users to do the usability tests. I don't have a direct way
to contact people who will be using the product, nor do I have a
centralized location in which to test them. How do I find and then
attract users, who currently or might eventually use our products, to
become part of a usability study, and how I do then perform it?

One thing that comes to mind is some sort of opt-in offer through a
follow-up email after purchasing our product that ask customers if
they'd be willing to test out future versions, but I don't know
feasible this is. Some sort of beta program would be great after a
product is about ready to roll, but I need people to test against
paper prototypes, way early in the process. How might I get that done?
Everyone I'll be working with, of course, is a computer genius. I need
people more like the potato farmer.

Thanks again ...

-r-

On 2/11/06, Taneem Talukdar <taneem.t at gmail.com> wrote:
> This could be viewed as a non-answer...
>
> No matter how diverse these people may be, they all share at least one thing
> in common: a need to use your product. So that does put them in a group, but
> an unusually diverse one. In that case, a solution may be to try and perform
> some segmentation analysis and recruit from the differently segments
> proportionally. Between the potato farmer and the startup guy there are
> multiple different characteristics you can use to cateorize types of people:
> income, training, motivation, past user experience, environment etc. It is
> unlikely that you will identify more than a handful of really different
> categories simply because not that many categories exist in society (from
> the perspective of differences in use of information systems).
>
> Once you get to this level you can then either test intensively within
> specific segments or extensively across the spectrum of your users.
>
> I have organized usability testing for a product with a very general
> userbase and found, of course, that all kinds of people will share the same
> problems and (mis)-conceptions...
>
> Regards,
> Taneem Talukdar
>
>
> On 2/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:
> > [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
> >
> >
> > Most of my career so far has been spent designing and developing
> > products for speciific audiences, like the HR department at an airline
> > or something, so I've always had quick access to a product's target
> > users. Next week, however, I'll be starting a new gig where I'll be
> > tasked with performing IxD and usability testing for commercial
> > software, which is/will be used by many types of completely different
> > users, all of which are decentralized to such an extreme that one
> > person could be a potato farmer from Idaho and another could be the
> > head of a startup that sells mechanical pencils.
> >
> > So my question to you cats is this: What steps do you take to find
> > people with which to perform usability tests when your audience is not
> > a specific group?
> >
> > Thanks very much for any suggestions.
> >
> > -r-
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ...
> http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List .........
> http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
>
>

11 Feb 2006 - 10:13pm
Taneem Talukdar
2005

In that case here are some other ideas :)

1. A recruiting company -- there are many out there who do focus groups. You
call them up, give them a screener with questions that will get people who
match what you need. They usually charge per recruit.

2. Opt-in emails can work too. You can also recruit users directly at the
point of purchase depending on the logsitics of your situation. Offer them a
discount for example, in exchange for participating in the test.

3. You can advertise in the papers. Companies do this for testing all the
time.

4. You can call up a "social networking" firm - these are firms that
maintain networks of people within specific demographics (usually younger
crowd). These groups try to differentiate themselves from th recruiting
company in that they maintain an existing set of people with very detailed
profiles whom you can hit up for feedback on products, or marketing message
testing etc. An example is http://www.d-code.com/

If you don't have a central location to test, one suggestion is to rent the
facilities of an ixd firm in your local area. You can also rent out the
facilities of a focus group company. They have set-ups with on-way mirrored
rooms, video and audio recording and internet access etc.

These are all of course, general ways in getting joe user to come in and
test a product - I don't think it's fundamentally different for a more
diverse usergroup - just harder :)

Hope this helps a little,
Tanem

On 2/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Great answer, actually, and I have considered these points myself -
> thanks for the great input.
>
> But yeah, I'm looking more specificallly for information about how to
> *get* the users to do the usability tests. I don't have a direct way
> to contact people who will be using the product, nor do I have a
> centralized location in which to test them. How do I find and then
> attract users, who currently or might eventually use our products, to
> become part of a usability study, and how I do then perform it?
>
> One thing that comes to mind is some sort of opt-in offer through a
> follow-up email after purchasing our product that ask customers if
> they'd be willing to test out future versions, but I don't know
> feasible this is. Some sort of beta program would be great after a
> product is about ready to roll, but I need people to test against
> paper prototypes, way early in the process. How might I get that done?
> Everyone I'll be working with, of course, is a computer genius. I need
> people more like the potato farmer.
>
> Thanks again ...
>
> -r-
>
>
>
> On 2/11/06, Taneem Talukdar <taneem.t at gmail.com> wrote:
> > This could be viewed as a non-answer...
> >
> > No matter how diverse these people may be, they all share at least one
> thing
> > in common: a need to use your product. So that does put them in a group,
> but
> > an unusually diverse one. In that case, a solution may be to try and
> perform
> > some segmentation analysis and recruit from the differently segments
> > proportionally. Between the potato farmer and the startup guy there are
> > multiple different characteristics you can use to cateorize types of
> people:
> > income, training, motivation, past user experience, environment etc. It
> is
> > unlikely that you will identify more than a handful of really different
> > categories simply because not that many categories exist in society
> (from
> > the perspective of differences in use of information systems).
> >
> > Once you get to this level you can then either test intensively within
> > specific segments or extensively across the spectrum of your users.
> >
> > I have organized usability testing for a product with a very general
> > userbase and found, of course, that all kinds of people will share the
> same
> > problems and (mis)-conceptions...
> >
> > Regards,
> > Taneem Talukdar
> >
> >
> > On 2/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> > material.]
> > >
> > >
> > > Most of my career so far has been spent designing and developing
> > > products for speciific audiences, like the HR department at an airline
> > > or something, so I've always had quick access to a product's target
> > > users. Next week, however, I'll be starting a new gig where I'll be
> > > tasked with performing IxD and usability testing for commercial
> > > software, which is/will be used by many types of completely different
> > > users, all of which are decentralized to such an extreme that one
> > > person could be a potato farmer from Idaho and another could be the
> > > head of a startup that sells mechanical pencils.
> > >
> > > So my question to you cats is this: What steps do you take to find
> > > people with which to perform usability tests when your audience is not
> > > a specific group?
> > >
> > > Thanks very much for any suggestions.
> > >
> > > -r-
> > >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > > (Un)Subscription Options ...
> > http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > > Announcements List .........
> > http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> > >
> >
> >
>

11 Feb 2006 - 11:11pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

That helps very much, Taneem. These are excellent suggestions, and
definitely give me a good jumping-off point. Thanks!

I'm open to other suggestions as well, if anyone has any.

-r-

On 2/11/06, Taneem Talukdar <taneem.t at gmail.com> wrote:
> In that case here are some other ideas :)
>
> 1. A recruiting company -- there are many out there who do focus groups. You
> call them up, give them a screener with questions that will get people who
> match what you need. They usually charge per recruit.
>
> 2. Opt-in emails can work too. You can also recruit users directly at the
> point of purchase depending on the logsitics of your situation. Offer them a
> discount for example, in exchange for participating in the test.
>
> 3. You can advertise in the papers. Companies do this for testing all the
> time.
>
> 4. You can call up a "social networking" firm - these are firms that
> maintain networks of people within specific demographics (usually younger
> crowd). These groups try to differentiate themselves from th recruiting
> company in that they maintain an existing set of people with very detailed
> profiles whom you can hit up for feedback on products, or marketing message
> testing etc. An example is http://www.d-code.com/
>
> If you don't have a central location to test, one suggestion is to rent the
> facilities of an ixd firm in your local area. You can also rent out the
> facilities of a focus group company. They have set-ups with on-way mirrored
> rooms, video and audio recording and internet access etc.
>
> These are all of course, general ways in getting joe user to come in and
> test a product - I don't think it's fundamentally different for a more
> diverse usergroup - just harder :)
>
> Hope this helps a little,
> Tanem
>
>
> On 2/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Great answer, actually, and I have considered these points myself -
> > thanks for the great input.
> >
> > But yeah, I'm looking more specificallly for information about how to
> > *get* the users to do the usability tests. I don't have a direct way
> > to contact people who will be using the product, nor do I have a
> > centralized location in which to test them. How do I find and then
> > attract users, who currently or might eventually use our products, to
> > become part of a usability study, and how I do then perform it?
> >
> > One thing that comes to mind is some sort of opt-in offer through a
> > follow-up email after purchasing our product that ask customers if
> > they'd be willing to test out future versions, but I don't know
> > feasible this is. Some sort of beta program would be great after a
> > product is about ready to roll, but I need people to test against
> > paper prototypes, way early in the process. How might I get that done?
> > Everyone I'll be working with, of course, is a computer genius. I need
> > people more like the potato farmer.
> >
> > Thanks again ...
> >
> > -r-
> >
> >
> >
> > On 2/11/06, Taneem Talukdar <taneem.t at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > This could be viewed as a non-answer...
> > >
> > > No matter how diverse these people may be, they all share at least one
> thing
> > > in common: a need to use your product. So that does put them in a group,
> but
> > > an unusually diverse one. In that case, a solution may be to try and
> perform
> > > some segmentation analysis and recruit from the differently segments
> > > proportionally. Between the potato farmer and the startup guy there are
> > > multiple different characteristics you can use to cateorize types of
> people:
> > > income, training, motivation, past user experience, environment etc. It
> is
> > > unlikely that you will identify more than a handful of really different
> > > categories simply because not that many categories exist in society
> (from
> > > the perspective of differences in use of information systems).
> > >
> > > Once you get to this level you can then either test intensively within
> > > specific segments or extensively across the spectrum of your users.
> > >
> > > I have organized usability testing for a product with a very general
> > > userbase and found, of course, that all kinds of people will share the
> same
> > > problems and (mis)-conceptions...
> > >
> > > Regards,
> > > Taneem Talukdar
> > >
> > >
> > > On 2/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> > > material.]
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Most of my career so far has been spent designing and developing
> > > > products for speciific audiences, like the HR department at an airline
> > > > or something, so I've always had quick access to a product's target
> > > > users. Next week, however, I'll be starting a new gig where I'll be
> > > > tasked with performing IxD and usability testing for commercial
> > > > software, which is/will be used by many types of completely different
> > > > users, all of which are decentralized to such an extreme that one
> > > > person could be a potato farmer from Idaho and another could be the
> > > > head of a startup that sells mechanical pencils.
> > > >
> > > > So my question to you cats is this: What steps do you take to find
> > > > people with which to perform usability tests when your audience is not
> > > > a specific group?
> > > >
> > > > Thanks very much for any suggestions.
> > > >
> > > > -r-
> > > >
> > >
> ________________________________________________________________
> > > > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > > > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > > > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > > > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > > > (Un)Subscription Options ...
> > > http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > > > Announcements List .........
> > > http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > > > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > > > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > > > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> >
>
>

12 Feb 2006 - 12:05am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

Great idea! I'll take a look at that. I'm in Phoenix, so I can use
CraigsList. Can you point me to one of your posts so I can see how you
handled it?

Thanks.

-r-

On 2/11/06, Mischke, Ali <Ali.Mischke at ironmountain.com> wrote:
> I'm not sure where you are, but if you're in a city served by CraigsList
> (www.craigslist.org), this is an excellent recruiting resource. We've
> used its job board with great success when looking for end users to
> participate in usability testing.
>
> The only potential concern is how you plan to compensate participants.
> We used to use gift checks, but changed to cash when needed in order to
> satisfy CraigsList's cash compensation requirement.
>
> Thanks,
>
> A

11 Feb 2006 - 11:17pm
Mischke, Ali
2005

I'm not sure where you are, but if you're in a city served by CraigsList
(www.craigslist.org), this is an excellent recruiting resource. We've
used its job board with great success when looking for end users to
participate in usability testing.

The only potential concern is how you plan to compensate participants.
We used to use gift checks, but changed to cash when needed in order to
satisfy CraigsList's cash compensation requirement.

Thanks,

A

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2006 12:12 AM
To: Taneem Talukdar
Cc: ixda
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Getting users outside of your company

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

That helps very much, Taneem. These are excellent suggestions, and
definitely give me a good jumping-off point. Thanks!

I'm open to other suggestions as well, if anyone has any.

-r-

On 2/11/06, Taneem Talukdar <taneem.t at gmail.com> wrote:
> In that case here are some other ideas :)
>
> 1. A recruiting company -- there are many out there who do focus
groups. You
> call them up, give them a screener with questions that will get people
who
> match what you need. They usually charge per recruit.
>
> 2. Opt-in emails can work too. You can also recruit users directly at
the
> point of purchase depending on the logsitics of your situation. Offer
them a
> discount for example, in exchange for participating in the test.
>
> 3. You can advertise in the papers. Companies do this for testing all
the
> time.
>
> 4. You can call up a "social networking" firm - these are firms that
> maintain networks of people within specific demographics (usually
younger
> crowd). These groups try to differentiate themselves from th
recruiting
> company in that they maintain an existing set of people with very
detailed
> profiles whom you can hit up for feedback on products, or marketing
message
> testing etc. An example is http://www.d-code.com/
>
> If you don't have a central location to test, one suggestion is to
rent the
> facilities of an ixd firm in your local area. You can also rent out
the
> facilities of a focus group company. They have set-ups with on-way
mirrored
> rooms, video and audio recording and internet access etc.
>
> These are all of course, general ways in getting joe user to come in
and
> test a product - I don't think it's fundamentally different for a more
> diverse usergroup - just harder :)
>
> Hope this helps a little,
> Tanem
>
>
> On 2/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Great answer, actually, and I have considered these points myself -
> > thanks for the great input.
> >
> > But yeah, I'm looking more specificallly for information about how
to
> > *get* the users to do the usability tests. I don't have a direct way
> > to contact people who will be using the product, nor do I have a
> > centralized location in which to test them. How do I find and then
> > attract users, who currently or might eventually use our products,
to
> > become part of a usability study, and how I do then perform it?
> >
> > One thing that comes to mind is some sort of opt-in offer through a
> > follow-up email after purchasing our product that ask customers if
> > they'd be willing to test out future versions, but I don't know
> > feasible this is. Some sort of beta program would be great after a
> > product is about ready to roll, but I need people to test against
> > paper prototypes, way early in the process. How might I get that
done?
> > Everyone I'll be working with, of course, is a computer genius. I
need
> > people more like the potato farmer.
> >
> > Thanks again ...
> >
> > -r-
> >
> >
> >
> > On 2/11/06, Taneem Talukdar <taneem.t at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > This could be viewed as a non-answer...
> > >
> > > No matter how diverse these people may be, they all share at least
one
> thing
> > > in common: a need to use your product. So that does put them in a
group,
> but
> > > an unusually diverse one. In that case, a solution may be to try
and
> perform
> > > some segmentation analysis and recruit from the differently
segments
> > > proportionally. Between the potato farmer and the startup guy
there are
> > > multiple different characteristics you can use to cateorize types
of
> people:
> > > income, training, motivation, past user experience, environment
etc. It
> is
> > > unlikely that you will identify more than a handful of really
different
> > > categories simply because not that many categories exist in
society
> (from
> > > the perspective of differences in use of information systems).
> > >
> > > Once you get to this level you can then either test intensively
within
> > > specific segments or extensively across the spectrum of your
users.
> > >
> > > I have organized usability testing for a product with a very
general
> > > userbase and found, of course, that all kinds of people will share
the
> same
> > > problems and (mis)-conceptions...
> > >
> > > Regards,
> > > Taneem Talukdar
> > >
> > >
> > > On 2/11/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> > > material.]
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Most of my career so far has been spent designing and developing
> > > > products for speciific audiences, like the HR department at an
airline
> > > > or something, so I've always had quick access to a product's
target
> > > > users. Next week, however, I'll be starting a new gig where I'll
be
> > > > tasked with performing IxD and usability testing for commercial
> > > > software, which is/will be used by many types of completely
different
> > > > users, all of which are decentralized to such an extreme that
one
> > > > person could be a potato farmer from Idaho and another could be
the
> > > > head of a startup that sells mechanical pencils.
> > > >
> > > > So my question to you cats is this: What steps do you take to
find
> > > > people with which to perform usability tests when your audience
is not
> > > > a specific group?
> > > >
> > > > Thanks very much for any suggestions.
> > > >
> > > > -r-
> > > >
> > >
> ________________________________________________________________
> > > > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > > > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > > > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > > > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > > > (Un)Subscription Options ...
> > > http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > > > Announcements List .........
> > > http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > > > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > > > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > > > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> >
>
>
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

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15 Feb 2006 - 4:35pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

RHJ> So my question to you cats is this: What steps do you take to find
RHJ> people with which to perform usability tests when your audience is not
RHJ> a specific group?

Robert,
Get an overnight delivery of "A Practical Guide to Usability Testing"
by Dumas and Redish.

This is a comprehensive manual on usability tests. Covers everything
step-by-step, from recruiting and incentives to test protocols. If you
are relatively new to usability testing, it's a must-have.

For on-line resources, check STC Usability Toolkit
http://www.stcsig.org/usability/resources/toolkit/toolkit.html

Lada

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