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A step-by-step breakdown of UX research participant recruitment

In a world where customers have more power than ever before, UX research has never been more important.

UX research - also known as user experience research - is all about understanding people’s needs, motivations, and behaviours by testing your products or services with representative users so you can get to know your audience better and gain essential, evidence-based insights.

By getting to know your users, understanding how they interact with products, and seeing things from their perspective, you can discover enhance user experience and ultimately increase ROI. Basically, it helps you to reduce uncertainty about what your users want and need.

However, if your UX research is going to hit the mark and deliver the results you need, it all comes down to one thing: recruiting the right users in the first place.  

With that in mind, read on to discover our step-by-step breakdown of UX research participant recruitment so you can ensure your UX research does everything you need it to - and more!

6 steps to successful UX participant recruitment

Step 1: Assess the feasibility of your study

Firstly, let’s take things back a step. Before beginning your user experience study, it’s important to assess the feasibility of your study before you get started by carrying out a feasibility test.  

A thorough feasibility test will allow you to drill down into your target demographic so you can see whether or not your study is viable before you start the recruitment process. Essentially, it allows you to identify any problems and make any necessary changes before you get doing - which will ultimately save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.  

Who are your target users? What are they like? What about their likes, dislikes and behaviours? By identifying the type of people you want to recruit for your UX research, you can identify the necessary criteria and strike a balance between crucial inclusion criteria and nice-to-have criteria, so you can recruit the best possible participants.  

If you need a bit more help with feasibility testing, we’ve got you covered. Discover our top feasibility tips in this blog post.

Step 2: Prepare the right screener questions

Once you’ve identified your inclusion criteria, you need to find participants who fit those criteria - which is where your screener questionnaire comes in.

By asking the right screener questions, you can make sure that the participants taking part in your UX research meets all the necessary criteria and quota splits - and also ensure they are the right fit for your research.  

After all, someone might hit the right demographics for your study on paper, but when it comes down to it, they might not be the best person to provide the insights you need, they might not be able to commit to the tasks involved, or it might be that they aren’t the right fit for the methodology.  

If you’re going to get the most out of your user experience research, it’s all about recruiting the right users - and your screener questionnaire will help to make sure you only put the very best participants forward.  

Step 3: Make sure you always validate

You can never be too sure that you’ve recruited the right participants for your UX research - which is why it’s so important to take it one step further and fully validate your respondents to double check that all the criteria are met and that you have the necessary consent for them to take part.  

Validating your participants by phone means you can really get to know them and make absolutely sure that they are the right person to take part in your UX research. Telephone validations allows you to begin to build a rapport with your participants (more on that below!) but it also enables you to ask some creative questions so you can get a feel for your participants.  

Plus, by validating your respondents on the phone, you can also make sure that your participants know exactly what is expected of them, ensuring that everyone is on the same page from the beginning and preventing any problems or hold ups further down the line.  

Step 4: Always think about accessibility  

If you want to ensure your UX research uncovers the likes and dislikes of all your users, you need to ensure that your study is accessible to everyone.  

Look at it this way: there are more than one billion people in the world with disabilities, and the online spending power of disabled people in the UK alone is a whopping £16 billion - so it’s super important to ensure that your UX research is accessible to everyone right from the beginning.  

Some key things to think about to ensure your research is accessible for everyone include:

  • Allowing zoom up to 200%
  • Ensuring there is alt text
  • Contrasting colours for text and non-text
  • Providing text transcript for audio and video
  • Providing audio descriptions for media content
  • Enabling participants to adjust time limits on time sensitive tasks  

Step 5: Communication is key

Throughout the recruitment process, it’s important to maintain open communication with your participants. Doing so makes them feel valued, lets them know they are an important part of your UX research, and ensures that they know they can reach out to you and voice their opinions or concerns in a constructive way.

It’s important to build a good rapport with your participants and be clear and communicative from the very beginning. After all, the better your relationship with your participants and the more trust they have in you, the more open they’ll be and the more likely they are to share honest opinions.  

Step 6: Make sure you over-recruit  

Finally, it’s important to make sure your prepared for every eventuality and don’t allow any unforeseen hiccups to get in the way of your UX research success - which is why we would always recommend having over-recruits that go through the same screening process all of your other participants.  

If you’re reluctant to over-recruit, we get it: in today’s climate, budgets are tight. However, unfortunately, even with the proper qualifying criteria in place, sometimes participants might just not show up or may have to cancel on the day. Having an over-recruit means you are completely prepared for this, so your research can still go ahead without having to scramble around for new recruits.  

If your participant quota is full, it can be tempting to dismiss over-recruits on the day - however it’s definitely worth keeping them on board, even if you don’t end up using their data. For starters, they might have some great ideas to bring to the table, and because you’ll still need to pay them for their time, you may as well make the most of having extra insights!  

Not convinced? Learn more about the importance of an over-recruit in usability testing in this blog post.

How Angelfish can help with your UX research participant recruitment

Here at Angelfish, we like to think we’re a little bit different from the other fieldwork agencies out there. We take the time to really understand your needs and what you want to achieve at the start of every project before searching high and low to find your perfect participants.  

No matter how specific your criteria, we’ll use our UX recruitment know-how to find the right people for your project by using a clever combo of digital methods, traditional techniques, and our panel of over 30,000 respondents to make sure we find the best possible participants.

Plus, once we’ve found your respondents, we’ll go one step further and provide online screening using specific qualifying criteria, so we can ensure we only put forward the very best people for your UX research project.

If that wasn’t enough, when you work with an expert fieldwork agency such as Angelfish, you’ll also have your own dedicated project manager who will work with you every step of the way.

Want to find out more? Learn more about what makes our recruitment process unique here, or alternatively, get in touch with our team today to arrange a time to chat.

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