How to find participants for in-house user research...

15 Mar 2012 - 1:50pm
2 years ago
8 replies
1073 reads
jammyman34
2010

Hi all, I'm trying to setup a guerrilla style research process at my compnay and I'm trying to figure out the best way to recruit participants for the various research methods I'll be using. So, I have a few questinos I hope you can help me with...

  1. How do you recruit for participants?
  2. How do you screen for the right participants? What sorts of things do you look for?
  3. How do you determine how much you'll pay them?
  4. Is it based on the study methodology type, length of time it will take, the difficulty of the study method, whether they're a professional or non-professional, onsite versus remote, etc.?
  5. How do you pay participants (cash, gift card, nothing)?
  6. How do you schedule participants?
  7. What do you do about now shows?
  8. Do you ever have participants who aren't who they said they were during the screening process? How do you deal with that?
I know that's a lot to be asking for, but I'm hoping to get some insights on at least some of this. I really appreciate the assistance.
Thanks!

 

Comments

18 Mar 2012 - 2:59pm
usabilitygal
2012

Oh gosh a lot of questions but I'll try and cover them all briefly Smile

 

  1. How do you recruit for participants? The easiest method but most expensive is to use an external market research agency to recruit for you. But I've done it myself on lots of occassions and it's mostly about identifying your target user and advertising where they hang out. For example, for a recent project we needed students, so we put up posters around local universities and posted on student forums online. 
  2. How do you screen for the right participants? What sorts of things do you look for? I put together a list of questions to identify things like age, sex, lifestyle... again I determine the questions I need to ask based on the type of user we wish to recruit. I use Surveymonkey to do this.
  3. How do you determine how much you'll pay them? Sorry but again this depends on the user and how much their time is worth. Students will be happy with £10 but if you're conducting research with professionals you'll need to pay much more. If the test only lasts half an hour then pay them less than a test lasting an hour or more. There is a high correlation between how much you pay and attendance rates so sometimes it's good to go high.
  4. Is it based on the study methodology type, length of time it will take, the difficulty of the study method, whether they're a professional or non-professional, onsite versus remote, etc.? Yes totally, see previous answer
  5. How do you pay participants (cash, gift card, nothing)? I've found people prefer cash
  6. How do you schedule participants? In an ideal world I'd schedule a whole day of testing with at least half an hour inbetween each participant to reflect and tweak the protocol, as once I see a distinct pattern forming I change the questions I ask so that I can gather more data from the research. In an ideal world I'd also leave a few days inbetween the first group of users and the second group, this allows us to take the results back and mockup some designs based on the feedback which we can then test with the second group.
  7. What do you do about no shows? Paying more helps to eliminate no shows. Make sure you book in more users than you really need just in case a couple don't show. It's not the end of the world if people don't show, and it shouldn't make much difference at all to your results so long as you've already seen a fair number of users.
  8. Do you ever have participants who aren't who they said they were during the screening process? How do you deal with that? I've not experienced this yet! How interesting! If they told a couple of fibs in the screener and they're the wrong user type I'd still continue with the test to see what usability problems they encountered but depending on their results I may not include them in the final analysis. It depends just how far they are from my target user and how much of an outlier their results turn out to be.

 

18 Mar 2012 - 9:10pm
Boltron
2010

You can use the new twitter search in http://ethn.io - it's free and you can @reply anyone that meets your study critera an invite to your screener, then schedule them to come in, and Ethnio will pay them automatically an Amazon gift card. Also, we built Ethnio for your exact situation so I really hope it helps. If not, we're screwed.

Scheduling coming someday.

-n

Nate Bolt 
Bolt | Peters 

 

18 Mar 2012 - 9:42pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

Nate, I like this idea, but doesn't @reply'ing make you a target for Twitter's block & report spam police?

18 Mar 2012 - 10:47pm
Audrey Crane
2009

I don't completely understand "guerilla" in this context. Is it guerilla because you're not going to be in a lab?

There are lots of questions / scales that would determine the answers to your questions:

  1. Where will you hold the study? (in a bar/coffee shop/airport waiting lounge? in your office? in a lab?) (I think of "guerilla" as meaning the first option)
  2. What is the goal of your study? (this will determine who you need, which will lead you to how to recruit them: Do you just need an average joe who's never heard of your company? then grab the guy hanging out at the coffee shop. Do you need a stay at home mom with two kids? then use the local parents' Yahoo! group. Do you need 36-year-old hispanic males who bank online, have an income between $65k-$66k, and who collect stamps? you're gonna need to hire a recruiting firm.) That question will similarly address what you should screen for. My only two constant criteria are whether I can understand their english and whether they tend to be monosyllabic to non-yes-no questions.

 

What you pay them, how you pay, many of your questions will be answered by the same questions. If your goal is to chat with an average joe for 10 minutes to look at your home page and determine if they understand what your business is, you should go to a coffee shop. You don't have to deal with no-shows, if they're not a great participant just let them go and grab someone else, and you pay them with a gift card for the shop, which also addresses the coffee shop manager being happy to have you there.

At some point you'll have the joy of dealing with a wing-nut, who either lied about the criteria (which mostly you'll catch in the screener, but sometimes you won't -- don't give too much of it away in any posted request for participation) or who for whatever reason you need to have leave your office immediately. Once you realize that, smile, give them their stipend, and do a good post-mortem on what happened. It's one of the badges you get for doing usability research, so don't sweat it too much.

If you haven't read Steve Krug's book "Rocket Surgery Made Easy" (http://www.sensible.com/rsme.html), I'd highly recommend that you pick it up. It will answer many of your questions.

Cheers,
Audrey

19 Mar 2012 - 12:47pm
jammyman34
2010

Wow, thank you all for yoru great insights!

Audrey, I guess when I used the word "guerilla" I was just meaning "on the cheap, whatever it takes, user research." We would use a private room when necessary depending on the methodology and depth of the study.

Do you guys pay cash purely because it's a better incentive to particiaptns or is it also because of tax pruposes? Would I have to do anything regarding taxes for the payouts?

Do you know how much do recuiting firms tend to cost?

19 Mar 2012 - 4:14pm
Jeremy Kriegel
2009

This article talks about using Facebook ads for recruiting. Sounds fascinating, but I haven't tried it yet.

http://www.core77.com/blog/articles/the_new_dawn_tapping_social_networks_for_design_research_recruiting_by_jan_chipchase_21490.asp

19 Mar 2012 - 4:15pm
Jeremy Kriegel
2009

Shorter version of that link: http://bit.ly/AtuJyU

19 Mar 2012 - 4:15pm
Jeremy Kriegel
2009

Shorter version of that link: http://bit.ly/AtuJyU

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