UIEtips article: Avoiding Demographics When Recruiting Participants

Jared Spool

September 17th, 2009

User research is now a critical tool in the toolbox of design teams. However, it only works well if you involve the right participants in the study.

Having the participants that match the design’s audience will give the team feedback on what works well and where the design needs rethinking. By learning from the participants, the team can make informed design decisions on all aspects of the user’s experience.

However, having participants that don’t match the audience can be very problematic. The team may miss learning about critical problems while they spend valuable time and resources fixing design issues that aren’t really important in real use.

In today’s UIEtips, I take you back to an interview from July 2008 with Dana Chisnell, the co-author of The Handbook of Usability Testing. We talk about what happens when teams try to use market research demographics as the basis for recruiting their participants and what the alternatives are.

Read my interview with Dana Chisnell, Avoiding Demographics When Recruiting Participants.

We have two great opportunities for you to get more out of your usability testing. On Wednesday, September 30, Dana is presenting a 90 minute UIE Virtual Seminar - Recruiting  for Usability Testing. Dana will show you the tricks to use to maximize your time and money on the right participants to get the right results.

Dana is also giving a full-day workshop, Mastering the Art of User Research, at this year’s User Interface 14 Conference in November. Learn the user research techniques of the pros. Recruit participants easily. Analyze data faster. Communicate results effectively.

3 Responses to “UIEtips article: Avoiding Demographics When Recruiting Participants”

  1. Daniel Szuc Says:

    Still to read the article but a quick comment while I am waiting to check into our hotel in Shanghai ;)

    I am often perplexed as to why when “user profiles” are developed they often include “marget segments” or variables that the client hopes will magically come out of the research and have little to do with real behaviors or actual interactions with a product or service. Its seems segments are more about people they aim to sell to and not what users are actually doing.

    I understand the need to find the right people for research, but often there is too much reliance on finding precisely the right person to map into a segment, when the segments themselves are cold, removed and not based on fact. *sips tea*

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