UPA 2003 -- Idea Market
do you find participants for your studies?
Kimberly Oslob, Macromedia Inc.
All of our
participants were usability specialist or usability recruiters. The majority of
the participants came from software based companies and web based companies,
therefore most of their participant pool is with the technical populations,
software consumer populations and general web user populations.
were posed to participants to elicit ideas and participatory conversations. The
topic of recruiting was so exciting for participants that they not only
answered the below questions but expanded to other much needed topics as
related to recruiting. The following, starter questions, were posed to
- Do you have any unusual ways that you obtain a
large amount of qualified participants? If so, what are they are approximately
how successful are they for you?
- If you post ads to obtain names, which postings
return the biggest number of qualified participants?
- Do you use a referral system to obtain names? If
so, how do you entice referrals and whom do you obtain these referrals
- Do you typically use recruiting agencies? What
is the success rate of using them? If not, why do you choose not to use
- What incentives do you offer that are successful
in attracting qualified participants?
The feedback that was received is
Obtaining participants for studies
- Technical Products
- Mailing lists
- Obtain a list of registered product users
- General/Consumer or Web
- Use a banner ad on your site
- It is hard to recruit for novice web users on
- Senior Centers
- Post at a grocery store
- Generates a limited amount of responses
- Obtain a list of registered product users for
consumer software users
- Obtain names of people who register on your
site for contests and drawings
- All populations
- Post to craiglist.com or other local online
- Place a form on your company website
- Post flyers where your target population may
- Obtain a list of users from the registration
cards for products
- Keep a database of names of past participants
or people who responded but did not fit your profile
- Email out screener to friends and co-workers for
- Hand the screener to participants to distribute
to friends and co-workers
- Obtain names through marketing
- Personal contacts
- Sign up cards
Using agencies for recruiting
- Do not use them
- Agencies tend to be biased
- They are very expensive
- For technical products you need to be very
involved in the recruiting process with the agencies
- Cold calling is not fun so have them do it
- They can take care of no shows and reminder
What type of incentives to offer
- Pay Cash
- Amex gift certificates
Handling the possibility of no-shows
- Offer extra cash for coming early or on time
- Use floaters- people you pay to wait near a phone for you call to
come in last minute. If they are chosen they not only receive the waiting
cash (e.g. $40) but they also receive the compensation for coming in.
- Over recruit then send the extra participants home with their gift.
Should the specialist recruit or
should there be a dedicated recruiter?
- The overall majority said that there should be a recruiter
dedicated because the specialist does not have the time to recruit and it
is expensive to have a specialist recruiting.
- Participants tend to exaggerate the truth in order to get into a
study. Be careful and detailed with the screening questions to avoid this.
Incentive tax issues
- There is a problem if you hand out software which is worth over
$400 dollars or a total in the year of $400. You will have to obtain their
Social Security numbers to have them claim for taxes.
- Solution: Label the software as a gift. You are
able to receive so much money/item value per year as a gift. Check with
your finance dept. on specific rules.
Using internal or external
participants for studies
- A majority of the participants use internal participants for dry
runs and external for the rest of the studies.
- Don't bring people in more than twice.
- You need a scientific breakdown on profiles if your goal requires
In conclusion, the majority
of participants used several different methods for recruiting but seemed to
struggle with ways in which to obtain participant names. Several conversations
focused around how to obtain names and how to entice participants to show up.
There seemed to be a strong need for networking and passing along ideas that
worked best. Most participants were looking for clear cut answers and all
seemed to feel a void when it came to education on recruiting and locating