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Why Are You Still Scheduling Participants?

Posted on Mar 29th, 2011 by Cyd Harrell
272 comments

Most  user researchers feel they get the best results if they recruit and schedule study participants themselves.  We agree. There’s an art to it, which makes it hard to outsource, but it takes a lot of time.  An awful lot.  Take a minute and think about how many hours you or the people you work with on user research spent on recruiting and scheduling last year. And if you’re conducting guerilla-style research with friends and family or any kind of participants, then we love what you’re doing, but this is for the projects that have more specific criteria and typically require an agency or detailed recruiting effort.

If you’re doing that, please click through for more discussion and a poll.

Here at B|P we make, and are updating Ethnio, so full disclosure, that’s what this is about! We have a question for you: why are you still scheduling users in advance?  Have you ever tried live recruiting from the web? Have you considered it?  What would it take to get you to give it a whirl?

What’s live research? (Also known as Time-Aware Research)

Instead of scheduling individual sessions, you schedule a day when you’ll be testing.  You call recruits as they come in from some kind of web screener (say, on Ethnio or Wufoo) and interview or test them on the spot using the remote method of your choice.  It flies in the face of traditional practice for setting up usability, but if you have a website that gets more than 5 or 6,000 visits a day, you can get the same density of sessions as you do in a fully pre-recruited model, without spending any advance time on scheduling.  And is the session quality as good?  We think it’s better, because you can not only screen for desired demographics and task match, you can screen for timing match and know that your participants actually A) are real users of your site and B) had a self-motivated reason to come there today.  Engagement is higher and answers are better.

So, one more time, and it’s a sincere question: we’d love to hear in the comments how much time you’re spending on recruiting and scheduling, why you’re doing it, and what it would take to get you to try it live.

[poll id=”1″]

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