Recruiting and Screening UX Research Participants | Amanda Stockwell | Skillshare

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Recruiting and Screening UX Research Participants

teacher avatar Amanda Stockwell, UX Research | UX Strategy | Lean

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Planning Research


    • 3.

      Who to Include


    • 4.

      Crafting Screening Questions


    • 5.

      Logistical Considerations


    • 6.

      Finding Participants


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Longitudinal Studies


    • 9.



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About This Class

Finding and scheduling suitable research participants is one of the toughest logistical challenges of UX research. There are many ways to recruit research participants, which also means there are many opportunities to get the wrong people in your studies. This course will provide a detailed overview of best practices for finding, screening and incentivizing participants so you can make sure your research efforts are as effective as possible.

This class is for anyone interested in conducting UX research. No prior experience conducting research is necessary, but it will be helpful to have a general understanding of UX research best practices and methods. I won’t be covering how to choose which UX research method in this course. All class materials will be provided. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Amanda Stockwell

UX Research | UX Strategy | Lean


Hello, I'm Amanda. I run a UX consulting firm called Stockwell Strategy and specialize in research and lean experimentation. I've run teams that provide experience research, strategy and design services. I'm especially passionate about finding innovative ways to learn about users and integrating that knowledge into overall product strategy.

I also love to spoil my dog, eat lobster in the sunshine, and teach fitness classes.

I love sharing what I've learned about UX along the way. Check out some of recent talks and feel free to reach out!

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Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hi, everyone, thanks so much for joining me today to learn more about you. X research Amanda Supple and a Runs Tackle Strategy, a research firm based in North Carolina. I've been in research for about a decade, and I'm excited to share what I go with you today. Making sure that you get the right research Participants insures that you get the most out of each of your research efforts and get the deepest insights. However, it could be hard to know how to get started, especially with the logistics of finding, screening and incentivizing. Participants in this class will cover the detailed logistics of where to find two people. How to identify the right people on what to do to make sure that they show up. There's no prerequisite knowledge for this class, but it could be helpful if you already have a bit of an understanding about common UX. Research methods have included a document that provides a brief overview and some other resource is to get you started. The product for this class will be to make your very own research, recruiting plan and screening questions. You're welcome to use an example from your own work or follow the prompts that I set for you. I really recommend that you download the project document at the beginning of class and fill it out as we go. And don't forget to share with the class so that you can get feedback from me and others. Let's get started. 2. Planning Research: before we dig too deep into the logistics of how to conduct research, let's talk about when to incorporate it into your practice. User experience Research could be used to explore any open questions that you might have about who your users are, how they interact, of what you build or what they might need. When you're just starting out building a project or a new feature or new product, you're probably going to be doing exploratory generative research where you're exploring the problem space and the users that you might be trying to solve for this is the kind of thing where you want to understand who people are and understand what their problems are. Whatever your open questions are, prioritized them in order of what is most important or riskiest for you not to know. For instance, if you're not yet sure who your users are, you'll probably want to explore that whatever your open question, try to form a hypothesis or a problem statement about what you're trying to explore so that you could narrow down the scope of your research. Hypothesis is basically just a guess about what you think is going to happen, and the research is a way to answer those questions. Once you have a specific goal, you can choose which method will help answer those open questions the best. The method that you choose will also help you decide what participants to include and how many. Regardless of what you're doing. There should always be an open question. If you need help figuring out your research goals are determining what method will help you answer your specific questions. Refer to the document that I've added to this class with more resource is. 3. Who to Include: Once you've decided what type of research you need to do, the one to think about who to include and who not to include. Remember that the best research comes from riel, actual or representative users. If you already have percent is defined, you'll want to pick one target persona for each research effort. If you don't already have percent is, that's probably what you want to explore in your research efforts. You could do an exercise to create proto personas, which is essentially a way for you and your teammates and stakeholders to identify your assumptions about the type of users that you have or identify the kind of users that you want to speak to. You might also want to talk about anti personas, which are the person is that you don't want to design for. Don't want to include in your studies. Your research Colin Method will also help you determine how many participants to include. If you're doing a big quantitative study like a survey, you'll probably need a fairly large sample size. But if you're doing a smaller qualitative effort like moderated, usability, testing or interviews, you can probably get away with many fewer. There's a common study that says that you'll find most usability issues after just five participants. So that's a good rule of thumb. Determine the number and type of participants based on your research method. 4. Crafting Screening Questions: Now that you know who you want to talk to, you can create what we call a screener. To identify those people while you're recruiting at screener is basically just a list of questions aimed to help identify from you do and do not want to talk to you. It often takes a survey format. You'll ask questions about the traits, behaviors and context of people so that you can understand if they fit into your target persona or not. For the type of researcher trying to do, keep in mind that general demographic information isn't necessarily likely to point you in the right direction. For instance, let's say you're working on a travel application specifically for people booking family vacations. The way that a mom books travel for her family is probably pretty different than a dad who books trouble for work. Just knowing that there are apparent in the same age range isn't gonna tell you the context that they're working in, because screeners are basically just surveys You want to follow survey Best practice when creating your screeners. The first thing is to make sure that you're asking a single question at a time and making sure that its precise. For instance, if you want to know about people snack preferences and you ask them what's most delicious and most nutritious people probably won't pick the same thing for both of those things. I know I certainly don't find carrots most delicious, but it's probably the most nutritious. You also want to make sure that the questions you asked for, precise and with precise answers. For instance, if you are asking about frequency of something, we want to make sure that the answers or something that can't be misinterpreted. Everybody knows what once a week means, but often could mean once a week or once a month or once a year, depending on the context. Don't leave it up to chance. Be really explicit about that sort of thing. You also want to make sure that you include answers that represent all of the possible options, so make sure that you include things like other not applicable or no context or no answer. People might accidentally misrepresent themselves when they're trying to pick one of your options. If they don't see something that's quite right for them, and you might end up with not quite the right people in your study, people don't mean toe like, but they can't help but try to fit themselves into a category. When in doubt, do a dry run with colleagues to make sure that the questions are clear and the answers are precise. However, you want to make sure that the questions are too easy to answer because it gives away what you're looking for and can tip people off. But very in virtue of the fact that they're filling out a screener, people are going to want to be included. And so if they can guess at what you're getting at, they might be more likely to answer that way. Let's say that you want to talk to people who have recently purchased a laptop rather than asking straightforwardly if they have just purchased the laptop. Maybe do something like this, where you ask them which of a number of things they have purchased and see if laptop is one of the things that they decided. Another way to get around this is to create what's called multiple elimination questions. You cannot to do multiple acceptance criteria in this case. Essentially, you would ask a question that you want a specific range to and then provide lots of different answers that might fit. For example, let's say that you need to talk to someone who is at least 20 years of experience rather than splitting up the groups into, say, 20 years or less, or 20 years or more. Which makes it pretty obvious where the cut off is provide lots of different ranges before and after your cut off point. So, for instance, arranges might be 3 to 5 years 6 to 10 years, 11 to 15 years, 16 to 20 21 to 25 26 to 30 etcetera, etcetera. And there's a bunch of different answers that you both move on and that you cut out. Having multiple answers screened both in and out makes it harder for people to guess where that cut office. Another option is. Just keep questions open ended. This makes it more difficult to track responses, but it also gives you a hint about how well people are able to express themselves. To that end, I would also avoid yes, no questions whenever possible, because you won't get the richest data when it comes to order. Always put the elimination questions at the beginning so that you screen out people who aren't going to be a good fit. There's no point in asking somebody 20 questions if the 1st 1 is gonna tell you that they're not a good fit. That way, you honor their time and save yourself the time of looking through and starting examples of people who won't be a good fit. You can always ask them to participate in later studies, also, if there's information that you're curious about, but that won't help you decide whether or not somebody should be in a study. Go ahead and leave that off the screener. You want the screener to be a short as possible general background Questions are also a great way to build report when you're doing moderated sessions, so hold off on this 5. Logistical Considerations: other than making sure that you right ineffective screener her some other things to consider to make your recruiting and screening ghost neatly. The first thing to keep in mind is that the screener is often your first interaction with a person, so you want to set the tone early, being friendly and open and encouraging people to open up to you. You also want to set clear expectations so that people know exactly what's expected of them if they end up getting in the study and what might happen if they don't get in the study. You don't want people thinking that just because they've started to fill out the screener they will automatically be included. Setting clear expectations from the beginning also makes it more likely that people will follow through in the long run. Because I know what's coming, it's important to cover details like how long the sessions will be, what the schedule looks like with the payment where incentives are and what the time frame this. If you're screening participants over the phone, you'll be able to adjust your tone and answer questions As you go. However, it's more likely that you'll be doing the digital screen here, which means you need to be extra clear. It's worth investing a bit of extra time to be sure that you set expectations and maybe do a run through with colleagues to make sure that she set the right tone. When it comes to scheduling moderated sessions. I really recommend using self scheduling tools like power or cowardly so that people can sign up for a time that works for them. You will save so much time not having to go back and forth seen time zones and time frames and what works for who. I'm a big fan of power. But Count Lee and you can book me or both. Good options one scheduled as helpful to send other logistical information such as parking information, timeframes specific directions. How to connect that kind of thing. It's also really helpful the center miners the day before and just before a session because everybody gets busy. You also want to pay attention, toe when you schedule moderated sessions. Besides making it convenient for you, your teammates and other stakeholders to observe, you want to think about the type of user you're trying to talk to you and what might be convenient for them. For instance, if you're talking to college students, early morning sessions may not be your best bet. To that note, I like to be able to give people the opportunity to digitally reschedule Anytime something comes up, everybody gets busy, and the chances that somebody will follow through are much higher if you let them reschedule, then if you try to follow up with them afterwards. Also, no shows are inevitable. Sometimes stuff just comes up for people. Forget for moderated sessions led to schedule one extra participant for about every five that I have scheduled. Worst case. I get six and 75 no problems there. 6. Finding Participants: Once you've considered all of the details of who to invite and the logistics of your sessions, it's time to start looking for participants. This could be one of the hardest parts for people getting started. If you already have an existing user base, the first step is to reach out to them. Your company probably already has existing communication channels like an email newsletter , and you can utilize those channels to reach out and let people know that you're looking for participants. I like to create a digital version of the screener and post it wherever possible. This could be in an email, current social media channels, maybe even a link on your website. You might be able to put a link to the screener on a call out on your website, which we call live intercepting. You can do this with a tool called F neo, which I particularly like, and they've offered us a discount F neos, especially designed for recruiting UX participants and requires minimum implementation effort. But you can also do so with other UX tools or even a little bit of job script. You can also recruit users or maybe even potential users by posting a link to your digital schooner in social media avenues or maybe even an ad campaign. Make sure you cater your messaging and communication channels, so the kind of user that you want to talk to you. For instance, if you want to talk to teens about their makeup habits, instagram might be a good pick. If you want to talk to people about jobs. For gene linked in might be a better pick when you craft a social media or advertising posts. Make sure you match the messaging to your intended audience. Be clear about the context provided clear called action and include any relevant hashtags of possible for the widest possible sprint. Here's the template that I really like to use that you can alter for your own use is hey, Blank product or service Users were working on blank whatever topic you're exploring, and we'd love your input. Take this blank, which kind of talks about the amount of time would take the screener and get why whatever your incentive is, if you're chosen, please share and invite your hashtag. Whatever the topic is loving friends then provide a link to the digital screener. Keep in mind that whenever you're recruiting on social media or advertising, your response rate is likely to be really low, meaning that you're gonna have to put this in front of a lot of people in order to get just a small amount of people who fill out the screener and even fewer number of people who are actually gonna fit what you need. Just be prepared for that. For more specific resource is I'm social media recruiting. I recommend checking out tumor, Ferran's validating product ideas and eight bolts remote research if possible. I really recommend creating your own database of people that you can call on any time to collect feedback from what's the time we call this building up your own panel. You can recruit people who have already been in your studies and ask them if they would like to be included again. If you have a fancy serum, maybe you can integrate it in that. But a panel could be a simple as a list of names and contact addresses in a spreadsheet. You should know that whenever you talk to people who are already familiar with your services and your brand, there's going to be something called the halo effect, which means that however they already feel about you, they're going to bring into the research sessions. If they have a really positive outlook on your brand, they're not as likely to give you his detailed, specific, constructive feedback as if they have a negative view and vice versa. If they've already had some problems or negative experience with your brand, they might bring that with them to the sessions. There's not really any way to get around this, but it's important to keep that in mind when you're recruiting so that you can mix up using riel, existing users and potential users who fit the kind of things that you're looking for. All of that is great if you already have an existing user base. What if you're building something brand new? Good news is that you've got a lot of options. One easy way to get participants is to utilize the tool panels of the many UX research tools that are out there. Tools like Optimal Workshop, user testing, dot com, user zoom and lots more already have lists of people who are willing to participate in sessions. Typically, they have a minimal amount of information about them, and you can ask just a few screening questions. But it's a great way to get in touch with people, especially if you're spread out. Far Tool panel They're great when you don't have any existing users, and you have a rough idea of who you want to speak. Teoh Remote tool panels are also especially useful if you want to reach a wide range of people spread across different locations. If you're working on a really specific type of thing and have a specific user base, such as maybe legal professionals or medical professionals, you might need something a little more detail than what a tool panel can provide. In this case, I'd recommend reaching out to one of the market research companies that have professional panels full of people. Their whole business model is centred around finding and screaming specific people for you . The also usually help with things like the logistics of setting up sessions and doing the incentives. However, you often have to pay a pretty hefty price for that. So just keep that in mind now. What about if you don't have any users and you also don't have a big budget to go after tool panels or market research panels. In this case, you can utilize a popular girl, a technique which is called live intercepting. It's just how it sounds. You set up shop in a public place like maybe a cafe or mall, and you just interrupt people and see if they're willing to give me some feedback. I still recommend having a screener in this case because you want to identify people, but it's pretty rude to go to people and interrupt them and then not include them in the study. So I recommend doing this kind of work when you have something really broad and that anybody could give you feedback on. You also probably shouldn't intercept people when you're going to be talking about sensitive topics like sex, health, religion, money, anything that people may not feel comfortable with, especially talking about with someone they just met in a busy, crowded area. So again, the good news is that there's lots of ways to recruit participants. If you already have users, you can reach out to the ones that you already have in lots of different ways. You can you like social media channels or advertising to recruit both existing and potential users. You can utilize the tool panels or professional marketing research panels, or you can intercept people. The best place to recruit users is really going to depend on your specific contexts what your budget is, who you're trying to talk to you. What the goals of your researcher. 7. Incentives: participating in research session is essentially a social exchange. People are giving up their time and input for you, so you want to give them something in return and research. We usually call this an incentive. Really. It's to incentivise someone to follow through and be part of the study with you. Most often, we think of incentives as cash or gift cards and well, that could be great. An incentive certainly does not need to be one of those things again. You want to think about the particular type of user that you're trying to recruit and think about what might be valuable to them. This might be company slag, a discount on something, maybe even food and drink. It really just depends. Recently, I was working on a research study with college students, and we bought pizza and take out, and we nearly run out of people that they didn't need any money. So just really think about what might be valuable to the people that you're trying to target. The one thing you do want to be careful about is that you don't want to bias anybody by providing a discount safer, something like a tool that they really need to get their work done because you don't want people to feel so inclined to just give you positive feedback because they feel like they need to you because they're getting a discount from you. Well, it's great to think about all the different kinds of ways that you can incentivize someone . The truth is that very often cash or a gift card is the best option. There's no one set amount that really makes the most sense for everybody again. It really depends on what you're asking from people and who they are and what they might value. Eso, for instance, If you need like an hour and 1/2 to 2 hours from a doctor, you'll pay them much more than you might pay someone who you just need 15 minutes from who's like a general e commerce shopper. Basically, you want to try to match the incentive to the value of what you're asking for from somebody . Whatever you end up choosing as incentives, try to make sure that you give it to the participants as soon as possible after the end of the research session. You want to try to do this quickly so that you demonstrate that you really value their time and appreciate their effort. He also trying to want to collect as little information as possible as necessary to get it for them. If you're using something like a gift card, try to do it with the email or actually just drive them before hands, he can hand them out. That's my favorite way. Another way to incentivize people to participate in studies doesn't have anything to do with money at all. But it's about letting people know the impact that they had and how you used their feet back. Everybody likes to know that their feedback was taken seriously and that it was actually acted upon. You can prime this by putting in the screener. We're exploring X topic because we're trying to make it better for you, or we've noticed X number of problems, Then look for ways to follow up and let people know what you did with the information. You could do something formal, like adding thank you to release notes or even something small, like adding it to the mound. These letter, I also recommend following up personally with people, if at all possible, so that you can let them know that you really appreciate their feedback. A small little bit of this goes a long way. The best incentive is going to depend on who you're participants are and what you're asking for them. Whatever you do, just make sure that you show them value and you make sure that they feel appreciated. 8. Longitudinal Studies: most UX research sessions are single entities, meaning that you spend an hour or whatever with someone and then they're done. But sometimes you want to collect feedback from people over time. This is called the Longitudinal Study. Examples of longitudinal studies are experience samples and diary studies. Although you could do lots of different things, I've found that you really need to incentivize longitudinal studies a little bit differently than traditional studies to keep people engaged and motivated to continue to follow through. Throughout the course of the project, I find that cash typically works best for longitudinal study because it has the most direct impact, and it's easiest to split up. When you're asking for people speed back over time, you never want to pay them all away at once at the beginning or make them wait all the way to the end. I want to give them a little bit at the beginning to make them feel appreciated, but then make them work for and wait till the end to get the rest the way that I split up. The incentive is dependent on how long the study is. If it's fairly short about a week, I'll probably give participants about 1/3 of the money after they set everything up and the rest of the money at the end. If it's a really long study, I'll split up the middle amount of money in between. So, for instance, I might give someone 1/4 of the money after they set up another quarter of the money halfway through and then the rest of the money at the end of the session. The best incentive structure for lunch in total study is really going to depend on who the users are, how long the study is and what you're expecting from them. 9. Conclusion: getting the most appropriate research participants really helps you maximize the insights and efforts you put until your research, carefully setting the stage by thinking through who you need to include. How best to incentivize them where to find them and then screening them properly will really help you get the most out of your efforts. Make sure you remember to set the stage, but carefully thinking through, you need to include right, an effective screener that identifies who you do and do not want to speak to find people in the appropriate place and incentivize them to follow through. Good luck reading your in research plans and screening questions. Don't forget to share what you come up with with the class so that we can all give each other feedback. Go forth and research. I can't wait to hear what you learn.