UX Recruitment | A Guide to Recruiting Users for Usability Testing

Finding the right users for usability testing can be tricky, but it shouldn’t be a headache. Here are three tips for recruiting the right participants for your testing.


Recruit the Right Number and Kind of Participants

This can be difficult to predict, but in general usability tests will require at least 5 users. This will enable you to highlight a majority of potential issues. Quantitative market research, on the other hand, will require at least 20 participants. Deciding on a participant number is an essential balancing act.


Before recruiting your participants, be sure to screen them for your focus group needs, be it a demographic (e.g. gender, age), statistic or in terms of their interests. In doing so, you can recruit as wide a pool as possible to relates to the complexities of your user.


Targeting five women of the same age, for instance, may prove detrimental to testing. What’s more, although you’ll need to find your niche/target audience, relying solely on your niche won’t help attract or test users that are on the perceived outskirts of your site’s interests. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the perspective of essentially only one user group and their industry perspective.


Finding Your Test Users for Usability Testing

There are many methods for finding users, including guerrilla, existing, online service and market research recruitment. The value of each method depends on your needs.


Guerrilla testing involves asking people you find on the street, in an office or really anywhere. Although this offers a good test of the general public, it may not represent your user base. Existing users can test new products or services and can be easily conducted via e-mail requests, but your customers may resent giving up their time. Online services will allow you to put out specific adverts to find the right participant.


Lastly, market research recruitment is the most comprehensive but also most expensive option and so is often not an option for every usability test. Each has its value for different products and usability needs, be they specific, general or niche.


What to Expect from a Recruiter

You’ll most likely have to go through a recruiter to find your participants if you don’t have access to your representative users.


Here are things to remember when utilising users testing recruitment services,


  • Remember to factor in time constraints. Recruitment offices will need several weeks to find your participants.
  • When using a recruiter, remember to have a detailed list of the number of participants required.
  • When using a recruiter, remember to have the demographic/group specifications, the location and date for testing.
  • The time of testing and session length and the compensation amount. Your research participants will expect and should usually receive a form of compensation or reward for their involvement. This can include anything from payments through gifts and expenses. This is on top of the recruitment service fee.


Recruiting the right people for your usability test is crucial when launching a new product. Otherwise, you risk making the process meaningless by recruiting participants that are dissimilar to your actual user base. In short, you need a pool of participants that reflect and are similar to your own users. But it isn’t always that simple either; you must also include representatives from a wide variety of groups, as you’ll rarely be simply targeting one group with one set of needs.

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