Top 9 things to think about when User Testing…

Ladies That UX have teamed up with People for Research, a specialist market research and user testing requirement service for paid recruitment projects all over the UK to offer you this guest Blog. Jess Lewes – Assistant Director of Projects gives us an insight to the top 10 things to think about when user testing.
As Assistant Director of Projects Jess Lewes is responsible for sharing insight on participant recruitment for user testing, advising new and existing clients on best practice, marketing and growing our national network of participants and supporting and developing the team of Participant Recruitment Experts.

Why is recruiting high quality user testers important?

Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group once said “Participant recruiting is the unglamorous foundation for all user testing. Without recruiting, you won’t have users. Having a systematic recruiting program in place will make a huge difference in how much usability testing your organization conducts, and the quality of your recruiting will immediately increase the quality of your test results.”
At People for Research we agree with him, which is precisely why we specialise in, not just recruiting participants but also helping UX agencies and in-house UXers set up processes for best practice.
This blog explains the top 10 tips for what you need to think about if testing and is intended to be useful for everyone, not just those who use an external participant recruitment partner (such as People for Research) to source users.

1. Make time for the recruitment

When creating your plan and setting out dates for deliverables at the start of the project, make sure you put a reminder to get in touch with the person who will be recruiting your users at least 3-4 weeks before you think you will be ready, so you can discuss what you will need and confirm how long this may take. If you are doing this yourself, make sure you set out a clear plan for the types of users you require and the time scale of your project.
We encourage our clients to come to us with provisional details as early as possible, so we can advise on any potential difficulties and how long the project may take to recruit. As well as making sure we set aside on of our participant recruitment specialists to actually recruit the people.
Rushing the recruitment process may result in the participants you want not being available in the timeframe, and you may not get the insight you were hoping for. As you may know, this can act as a huge barrier to the success of your project and the end product.

2. Don’t be brief with your brief

People for Research always ask our clients to provide a recruitment brief outlining all the relevant criteria, and details for the user testing sessions. This document is then used as a guideline for all conversations, all documentation that is used to recruit participants, and as a check list of what we are recruiting for.
The more detail you provide at this stage, the more likely the person recruiting your users will have a clear idea of the purpose of the project and the criteria they are working to.
We have put together a guide on creating a successful recruitment brief, which you can find here.

3. Remember to include the incentives and the cost of recruitment in your budget

When working with a complex budget, with multiple phases, it is easy to forget one or other of these. Under budgeting and trying to cut corners either with the recruitment cost or the incentives will result a greater chance of unsuitable participants who drop out on the day.
If in doubt, make contact with your participant recruiter and ask for a quote – remember to give details so that the quote is accurate. Here at People for Research we are always on hand to discuss upcoming projects and have a handy guide for incentives which you can find here.

4. Communicate clearly with the person who will be recruiting your users

Always make time to have a phone conversation, or better still meet in person with the recruiter to have a kick-off to the recruitment project. Schedule several points during the recruitment process to check-in and review progress at the start, so that your recruiter (internal or external) knows when they will be able to get hold of you.
This is especially important if you are working with an external partner, who may not be aware of internal meetings or your annual leave. Plus your recruiter can manage the participants expectations, should the recruiter need to check with you as to the suitability of each participant.

5. What about non-disclosures?

If there are any additional processes, such as signing a non-disclosure or confidentiality document always let your recruitment person know. On a very rare occasion participants who aren’t familiar with these processes may back out and not wish to participate. To avoid this, participants should be informed up front of anything they need to sign or agree to, before they are asked if they are happy to participate.

At People for Research, we follow best practice guidelines such as the UXPA code of conduct, and include details like this in the screener. This way we can talk participants though everything and answer any queries immediately.

6. Location

It is also important to think about up front about where you will be holding your testing. Especially if you are considering two different locations that are not close to one another, as this may affect whether participants are able to attend the appointment or not.
Make this decision before you being the recruitment, and check whether the venue is accessible or not.

7. Who is the main decision maker?

In an ideal world the person tasked with recruiting your participants will just book in people who are suitable, and typical of the average user you require – however there is a chance that this might not happen.
If you are not the main decision maker when it comes to making amendments to the recruitment criteria, make sure you and the recruitment partner, whether internal or external, raise this with the main decision maker in plenty of time.
If this is only raised on the day of testing, and the decision makers wants to re-recruit different participants this is far too late!

8. A Checklist for the day

Provide a point of contact, so that if a participant has problems finding the venue or if there are any last minute changes your dedicated recruiter knows who to call.
Make sure your reception team have a list of attendees, and they know where to direct them when they arrive.
Remember to print off any forms you might need, such as NDA or forms for participants to sign to confirm they have received their incentive.

9. After testing

Once you have completed the testing it is best practice to feedback any issues you may have experienced on the day, or if anyone wasn’t able to attend.
As an company who specialise in recruitment of participants, People for Research don’t actually conduct the user testing. So this is an invaluable process for us, and often we learn a lot about how we can make changes to improve the service we provide by debriefing with our clients.
If you would like to find out more about our user recruitment, user testing and market research expertise and services, get in touch with Jess at

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