Aug 11, 2015

Participant Recruiting Tips for UX Studies

As UX research expands outside of traditional computing fields and as we seek to design for users who are not like us, recruiting participants can become a really time-consuming and challenging process. A few tips and techniques I've used across quantitative and qualitative studies:

 - Even if you don’t think that your potential participants have a relevant formal organization, try searching for meetup groups that match your target user base. This is best for local recruiting, as  there's groups about just about everything, and they're welcoming members with new perspectives and backgrounds. Meetup group organizers will be particularly happy to have somebody who is interested in their issue join their group,as a member or even a speaker, so there's many opportunities to make a connection.

 - Snowball Sampling: ask a participant to recommend other possible participants. A tip here is to asking asking the snowball question twice: once when I follow up with the participant reminding about our scheduled meeting and again after the study is complete. This gives them a chance to think about it a little bit.

 - If a UX study can be done in one session and without special equipment (e.g., an interview), take advantage of the times when you are travelling. Just through posts or meetup groups or connections to friends, I usually get an additional 2 or 3 participants when I visit another state. For some reason, just because I’m there for a limited time, people feel more excited about being in the study (“You came all the way to CA to talk to me?”).

 - Ask widely in your social network to see if anybody can recommend a participant for a specific study. Facebook is actually quite good for this task, but I’ve also found that bringing it up with people face-to-face gets people to think about it harder. I like to do a lot of looking on my own first, so that I can say “I’m having a hard time finding participants. Here’s what I’ve done so far. Do you have any other ideas?”