User research allows designers to understand users’ needs, goals, and frustrations, which helps them design products that users will love. However, user research is only as good as the participants you recruit. How you approach recruiting participants for your study is extremely important, as it will affect the entire research study and, as a result, your development process as a whole.
If you want to get accurate and valuable insights from your user research, it’s important to recruit participants who represent your target audience. You need to consider their interests, skills, and demographics.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of recruiting participants for your user research study so you can get the most out of your research.
Before you start recruiting participants, it’s essential to plan your research study.
Set your research goals. Establish your research questions. Define your target audience. In short, develop your research plan.
Once you have a good understanding of what you want to achieve with your research, you can start to look for participants who can help you get there.
In another article, we’ll provide a detailed guide on how to plan your user research study. For now, here are a few key things to keep in mind:
Only once you have a plan in place, you can start recruiting participants for your user research study.
Research goals shape the entire study.
They help researchers to realize what methods they should use, how to use them, and who should be participants in their study.
Before you conduct your user research study, it’s essential to review your research goals. What do you want to learn from your research? What questions do you need to answer?
Once you have a clear understanding of your research goals, you can start to think about who can help you answer your questions.
Let’s say you’re designing a new mobile app for food delivery. Your research goal is to understand the features most important to users and how they want to use the app.
Based on your research goal, you might develop the following research questions:
To answer these research questions, recruit participants who use food delivery apps regularly. To get multiple perspectives on this problem, you must recruit participants from various backgrounds and with different needs. That means parents, students, busy professionals – people representing different types of users likely to use your product.
By doing so, you can get a variety of perspectives on what features are the most important and how users want to use the app. Designers will use these insights to create a food delivery app that is both user-friendly and meets the needs of your target audience.
As mentioned earlier, you must recruit people who can help answer your research questions.
What does that mean, exactly?
There are a few things to consider when deciding who to recruit for your user research study:
It is worth mentioning that if you’re working on a launched product, you can also recruit participants from your existing customer base. This way, you can get great feedback from real users and learn how they use your product.
Here are a few tips for recruiting participants from your existing customer base:
By recruiting the right participants for your user research study, you can get the data you need to make informed decisions about your product or service.
The number of participants you need for your user research study will vary depending on the type of study you’re conducting. Here are some general guidelines:
Here are some additional tips for determining how many participants you need:
It would help if you created an incentive plan. It is a reward system for participating in your study.
Providing incentives for your research encourages users to sign up, motivates them to participate, and rewards them for helping the researcher gather all that valuable data.
When creating an incentive plan, you need to consider your budget. Additionally, think about what type of incentives will most motivate your participants.
There are generally two types of incentives:
When choosing incentives for your user research study, it’s essential to consider your budget and the needs of your participants.
It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating an incentive plan. The best incentive plan for your user research study will depend on your budget and the needs of your participants.
In this day and age, researchers have many, many different methods of finding participants for their study. The challenge is to know which one should you choose.
There are many user research recruiting platforms that can help you find participants for your study.
These platforms typically have a large pool of pre-screened participants, saving time and effort.
When choosing a user research recruiting platform, consider your budget and the specific needs of your study. Some platforms offer a variety of features, such as the ability to screen participants based on their demographics, interests, and skills.
If you have a large budget and need to find a large number of participants for your user research study, you may want to consider working with a recruitment agency or panel company.
These companies have a large pool of pre-screened participants, and they can help you recruit participants from specific demographics and with particular skills or knowledge.
To maximize the benefits coming from working with a recruitment agency or panel company, here are a few things you need to do:
When choosing a recruitment agency, compare their services and prices. It would be best to read reviews from other researchers to get an idea of their quality of service.
Working with a recruitment agency or panel company can be a great way to find participants for your user research study. Still, be aware of the costs and carefully screen participants yourself.
In addition to working with general recruitment agencies and panel companies, you can also work with user-testing software companies specializing in recruiting. These companies have a deep understanding of the user research process and can help you recruit the right participants for your study.
Here are a few tips for working with user testing software companies that specialize in recruiting:
Working with a user testing software company that specializes in recruiting can be a great way to find participants for your user research study, especially if you need to recruit a large number of participants or if you need to recruit participants from a specific demographic.
If you find yourself working for a company with a launched product, you may have an existing customer base, which you can use to find participants for your user research study. It is a fantastic opportunity to get feedback from real users and to understand how they are using your product.
To access a database of your own product customers, you can use your customer relationship management (CRM) system or your email marketing platform. You can also use a third-party tool, such as User Interviews or Respondent, to access a database of pre-screened participants.
Once you have accessed a database of your own product customers, you can filter the list to find participants who meet your target audience criteria. You could filter the list by demographics, product usage patterns, or purchase history.
While recruiting participants from your product customer base, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Recruiting participants from your own product customer base can be a great way to get feedback from real users and improve your product. However, it is essential to be respectful of customers’ time and to offer them an incentive for participation.
By using your own product customer database, you can save time and money on recruiting participants for your user research study. You can also get feedback from real users already familiar with your product.
Analytics software can be a valuable tool for recruiting participants for user research studies. By analyzing your website traffic, app usage data, or customer support tickets, you can identify users who are most likely to be interested in participating in your study.
Here are a few ways to utilize analytics software for user testing:
Once you have identified a list of potential participants, you can use analytics software to contact them directly or send them a recruitment survey.
Here are a few examples of analytics software that you can use for participant recruitment:
When choosing an analytics software platform for user testing, it is worth remembering that some platforms offer more features than others, and some are more expensive than others.
Utilizing analytics software can be a great way to recruit participants who are relevant to your study and who are likely to be interested in participating. However, it is essential to use analytics software ethically and to respect the privacy of your users.
Here are some tips for using analytics software ethically for user testing:
Posting on social media platforms can be a great way to find participants for your user research study. They have a large user base, and you can target your recruitment posts to specific demographics and interests.
When posting on social media outlets to recruit participants for user research studies, it is essential to be respectful of users’ time and to offer them an incentive for participation. You should also carefully screen participants to ensure they are a good fit for your study.
Here are some additional tips for posting on social media outlets to recruit participants for user research studies:
Recruiting internally within your company can be a great way to find participants for user research studies. Your colleagues are already familiar with your products and services, and they can provide valuable feedback on new features, usability problems, and overall customer satisfaction.
You can recruit internally within your company for user research studies using some of these methods:
At the same time, you should always respect people’s time and offer an incentive for participation.
Recruiting family and friends for user research studies can be a convenient and cost-effective way to get feedback. However, it comes with potential biases that can provide you with tainted data.
For recruiting your friends or family, try this approach:
By following these tips, you can recruit family and friends for user research studies in a way that is effective, respectful, and ethical.
After you define who is the perfect candidate for your study, you need to make sure that people with these characteristics will be recruited for your study. To do that, you need to create a screener survey.
A screener survey is a short survey that you can use to ask potential participants questions about their demographics, interests, and experiences. This will help you to determine whether or not they are a good fit for your study.
For example, if you are conducting a user research study on a new mobile app, you might include the following questions in your screener survey:
You can then use the responses to these questions to filter out potential participants who are not a good fit for your study. For example, you might only want to recruit participants who use social media apps regularly.
If you want to learn more about screener surveys, check out this article.
You completed all of the previous steps, published information that you are looking for study participants, and some people signed up. Great job! Thanks to screener surveys, you have a pool of participants that meet your criteria. Good, but your work is not over yet.
The next step is to schedule them for a mutually convenient time. It may become a problem, especially if you are recruiting participants from different time zones or with different availability.
Here are a few tips for making this process a little easier:
Here is an example of a confirmation email:
Subject: Confirmation for user research study
Dear [Participant Name],
This email is to confirm your participation in my user research study on [date] at [time]. The study will be held at [location].
Please arrive 15 minutes early so that you have time to check in and get settled. The study will last approximately [duration].
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for your participation.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
By following these tips, you can schedule participants for your user research studies in a way that is efficient and respectful of their time.
In every study, there will be a small group of participants that will not turn up for the study. NNgroup estimates that it is always around 11% of every recruitment process.
No-shows can be a significant pain point for user research studies. They waste time and resources, making it difficult to get reliable data.
To ensure this number will not increase, you need to make participation in your study as easy as possible. Here are some tips for that:
Here is an example of a reminder email that you can send to participants:
Subject: Reminder: User research study on [date] at [time]
Dear [Participant Name],
This is a friendly reminder about your participation in my user research study on [date] at [time]. The study will be held at [location].
Your feedback is vital to this study, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on [topic of study].
If you need to cancel or reschedule, please let me know as soon as possible.
Thank you for your participation.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
After all that hard work, all that is left is to conduct the study.
There are a few additional pointers in the context of participant recruitment. You, as a researcher, need to make study participants feel comfortable. This way, it is more likely that they will return and participate in future research you may need to conduct. It may reduce the risk of participant burnout occurring.
Here are a few tips for conducting a user research study:
User research is essential for creating products and services that people love. By recruiting the right participants and conducting your studies effectively, you can gain valuable insights into your users’ needs, wants, and pain points.
Here are a few things to remember:
By following these tips, you can conduct user research studies that are effective, informative, and respectful of your participants.