6 Steps to Recruiting Participants for User Research

What’s the secret to obtaining high-quality user feedback? Whether you’re gathering input for a usability test, a focus group, Customer Validation, or another form of user research, finding and recruiting quality participants makes a world of difference to the quality of your feedback.

Keep reading to learn how to turn people from your target market into active and engaged participants in your user research project.

Building a Plan

Before you jump straight into recruiting, you’ll want to define the characteristics of the people you’re recruiting. The “who” largely comes back to the type of project you plan to run and what you need to accomplish. In most cases though, you’ll be recruiting a specific subsection of your target audience. This means keeping characteristics like age, sex, profession, interests, and technology savviness in mind while recruiting. Look at your personas for guidance on this part.

Start by defining the core requirements. These are the demographic and technographic traits every participant needs in order to help you satisfy your project goals. For example, if you’re conducting an iOS app focus group, you can screen out Android users. You may also need to consider factors like geography (if your project is regionally specific or you’re conducting in-person interviews) and status as a customer or employee.

Pulling in targeted users assures the feedback you receive from participants is relevant to your project goals. Irrelevant data is the last thing you want after spending hours collecting and prioritizing feedback.

Many of the principles and best practices in the Beta Test Recruitment Kit apply to other types of projects. You can download the free kit in our resource library.

The 6 Steps for Recruiting User Research Participants

The users or customers who end up in your project will go through slightly different vetting procedures, depending on the type of user research you’re conducting. But as a general rule, the recruiting process follows these six stages.

6 Steps to Recruiting Testers for User Research | Recruiting Pyramid

1. Community Member

This is a general member of your community, whether it’s members of your product forum, your followers on social media, or another place where your ideal candidates congregate. If you don’t have your own community, this just refers to individuals you could recruit.

2. Candidate

A community member or other individual who might qualify for your project, based on the information you have about that person. If you’re recruiting from a network like Betabound, this information will be in their profile. Other traits you might look for include geographic location, whether they follow you on social media, or if they’re a current customer.

3. Applicant

Once you’ve spread the word that you’re recruiting, you’ll start pulling in applicants – people who have actively signed up to join your project. If they meet the right prerequisites, they move onto the next phase.

Tip: You can use a short application questionnaire (or qualification survey) to screen your applicants. A qualification survey helps you identify applicants with the right demographic, technographic, and psychographic attributes to supply solid feedback. This is where defining your ideal characteristics beforehand comes in handy.

4. Qualified Applicant

An applicant who has the right demographic and technographic qualifications for your specific project. In other words, they’ve passed the qualification survey or met your requirements. This is also where you’ll look for indications of enthusiasm.

Enthusiastic participants make it easier to elicit quality feedback because you’ll spend less time prying it out of them. Indications of enthusiastic participants include: providing thoughtful details, having previous research participation experience, and demonstrating an interest in helping your research. These are all good signs that they’ll actively submit quality feedback during your project.

5. Ideal Participant

A qualified applicant who confirms that they will be valuable to your project based on targeting, enthusiasm, and availability. If your project requires a participant to be in a certain place or use a product during a certain time, this is when you would work on scheduling.

6. Participant

An ideal participant who:

  • Fits the necessary qualifications,
  • Is able to accommodate the project schedule,
  • Has signed all the necessary agreements, and
  • Has been onboarded to your project.

By recruiting targeted, enthusiastic participants, you’re setting your user research project up for success. You can learn even more tips and best practices for finding and recruiting qualified participants in the Recruitment Kit.

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