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How we recruit the right people for research

Posted by Kate Morris on Jan 3, 2024 12:31 PM

User research starts with finding the ‘right’ users. The quality of insight from the research very much depends on the feedback a participant gives and inviting people to take part in research to whom the website is relevant is essential!

To ensure we find real users of our clients’ websites, we follow a rigorous recruitment process. Here are our steps to a successful recruitment process…

Recruit participants that are representative of your clients’ users 

A recruitment brief from our client is the first step in the recruitment process. This brief or checklist ensures we are reaching a representative sample of our client’s website users. This tends to include a split of ages, ethnicities, and genders. Next it is about finding the respondents who accurately reflect the clients existing and potential users. To find these respondents we use a recruitment screener with relevant questions that we send out to our large database of people interested in testing websites. 

For example, we recently undertook a research project testing a popular family holiday website. To get an idea of whether the testers were target users, we asked questions such as ‘Have you ever booked a family holiday with one of the following brand’ and ‘Would you be interested in booking a holiday with any of the following brands?’. This allowed us to check whether the testers were current or potential customers without giving away who the testing was for.  

Have a system to keep in touch with participants  

Based on the answers that we receive in the screening form we will narrow down our selection by considering who best matches the profile. Our database provides a way for people to register with us and create a profile with all the details that help us match them to projects – about them, their job, family life and hobbies. Having this system in place is useful not only to keep in contact with testers for current or future research but it is also a great way to build up a variety of participants that you can reach out to for future projects. We can also keep track of what research projects they’ve participated in.  

Contact, schedule, remind 

Communication is key throughout the recruitment process. The first initial contact is done via the database, emailing testers, letting them know we have an upcoming project and inviting them to fill out the screening questions. Once we have identified who best matches the tester profile, we will invite them to participate again via email, this is where they can come back to us on which dates/times work best for them. 

Once we have booked them in, we then ensure we are reminding them of the session closer to the time and make certain that they have all the relevant details. For remote, the zoom link in which they will join the session, and for in-person, directions on where they need to go. We always ask our testers to confirm they have received this reminder and can still attend the session, following this up with a phone call if they have not replied. 

Offer incentives 

We always offer our respondents an incentive as a thank you for their time and participation. This demonstrates that we value the time they are giving up to help us with our research. Thanking our participants in this way also helps to assure attendance and reduces our rate of ‘no show’ sessions. 

Have reserves  

There is nothing worse than having everything prepared, the client is observing the research live, and then the tester does not attend the session. To minimise this issue, we always recruit reserve testers – we set the expectation that it could be short notice e.g., same day. As a thank you for their flexibility, if they participate, they will receive an increased incentive.  

It’s coming up to four months in my role as the Recruitment Manager. There have been challenges along the way – trying to recruit a tester within an hour for an in-person London session was definitely one of them! However, I am very much enjoying the role and find the process of finding and booking in suitable testers very fulfilling. It is rewarding when you have recruited a great group of testers which not only helps the facilitators, but also means the client gets fantastic feedback! 

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