Recruiting testers for usability testing

Posted by Dr Sarah Burton Taylor on May 20, 2019 4:44:28 PM

Conducting good usability testing relies on recruiting the right testers. With 17 years of usability recruitment under her belt, our recruitment manager, Avril, shares her top tips...

Before you start recruiting

  • Review the project scope and objectives upfront to ensure everyone involved is clear on which users should be recruited for the research
  • Prepare a detailed recruitment screener to make sure you get people who ‘fit’ these agreed user profiles. While you don’t need large numbers, you do need the right testers, otherwise you will not get meaningful feedback on both the usefulness and the usability of the site.

During recruitment

  • With your screener in place, you need to begin reaching out to potential testers. How you do this is going to depend on how general or specialised your target testers are. Channels for recruitment include social media, special interest forums, direct emails or phone calls. For a general recruit, such as ‘anyone who shops at a supermarket’ broadcasting a message via social media is likely to prove successful. If on the other hand you’re looking for ‘specialist tech experts’, the pool of likely testers is going to be very small and will require a much more targeted and proactive approach to find them
  • Always be clear about what your testers will need to do i.e. how long the session will take, whether it will be recorded, if they will be observed. You don’t want your tester turning up and then finding they are uncomfortable or unwilling to proceed
  • Be sure to send confirmation information to the tester once they’ve been recruited, giving them timings, details of the venue and who to ask for on the day
  • Then remind the tester again before the testing session to make sure they turn up!
  • Offer the tester a suitable incentive – this is to thank them for their time and participation and can help ensure you don’t get last minute drop outs

After the testing

  • Don't forget to say thank you! By giving up an hour of their time, these testers are helping you make great improvement to your site and allowing you to develop a site that is truly user-centred
  • Establish if the tester is happy to be contacted again for future projects. However, be wary of recruiting the same tester for more than a couple of sessions a year. You may end up with ‘professional testers’ who learn what they need to be looking out for or what you expect them to say. This will not allow you to surface key issues.

Related content: what is the purpose of usability testing, how to write a usability script


Topics: Usability Testing

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