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Usability Testing: What goes into user recruitment and test session readiness?

Usability testing is meant to help discover design issues and get appropriate directions on further improving overall user experience. But, these sessions would not be possible without having right set of users who would review and provide feedback.

Getting right users 
At times, it is challenging to get right users for test sessions.For many organizations where usability process for design is newly followed, there is still less clarity on whether:

  • usability testing is required ( business impact)
  • if required, what type of users would be participating in test sessions
  • will such users be identified and available for such sessions
  • if available, which specific locations need to be considered.


Moving forward, getting right users for usability test sessions is driven by:

  • identification of critical user groups
  • defining user profiles
  • defining user personas based on user profiles
  • geographic spread of users
  • availability of users as per scheduled project plan.

Typically, identification of user groups, defining and further refinement of personas take place  right at the initial user research phase of design. 
Once the user groups and personas are finalized, the same can be leveraged to identify users. 

User recruitment ownership
Within organization, user identification or recruitment for test sessions can be done by internal teams. It could be corporate communication team, marketing, sales or any team who would have the strength and knowledge to reach out to the prospective users. Users can be reached out by sending an internal communication through mail specifying the intent of testing, what is expected from users, the test session date and venue, expectation from users, their compensation, if any and other details like time allotted for each test session, so on so forth.

If none of the internal teams is willing to pick up this responsibility, there are third party agencies who have a professional approach throughout for recruiting and providing such target users for test sessions.

Awareness of test sessions within target users
Many prospective users do not know how the test sessions would take place, whether in form of some small group discussion or a large, in a conference room within office, or in an outside usability lab, why is it required to participate and what is the thing they will get in return for spending time for test sessions. Users also do not have any clue on the test session recordings which would be required to do for offline analysis. It is important for users to know these details and it is also important for any organization to  communicate such test session details to the prospects so that they have a clear understanding on what is expected from them and how is it going to affect the work in progress design.

User Geo spread
Users also might be spread across disparate locations. The challenge is not just to have test sessions with such users in form of remote testing, but also to select user locations for remote testing from the available locations. Many a times, this is solved by closely analyzing the user spread across geographic locations. It is recommended to have one on one or in person test sessions in locations where maximum users, which also include the primary users based on personas are located. This also depends on which locations are considered important in business perspective and are also strategically important locations for an organization.

Once the locations are shortlisted based on the above criteria, it becomes fairly easy to take decision on which locations should be considered for in person testing and which ones for remote testing. There is also cost factor which needs to be considered while deciding the number of in person test session locations.

To conclude, user recruitment and test session readiness, which seem to be a small part of the project plan, do require focus efforts to get right users to provide design feedback and make it a success.


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