Your user research is only as good as the participants you recruit.

It’s a common mantra in user research, but the quality and relevance of the people you choose to participate in your studies really does matter when it comes to revealing valuable UX insights.

But once you’ve taken the key components of recruitment into account (such as sample size and finding the ‘right’ participants) there are still things that you should definitely prepare for when recruiting and running your research, particularly when it comes to remote moderated.  

Here are eight important things to consider beyond the normal considerations, as provided by Kuldeep Kelkar, SVP, Global UX Research Services, and Jamie Miller, Senior UX Researcher in our downloadable ebook Remote Moderated 101.

1) Add technology questions to your screeners

The first thing you’ll want to do is add technology questions to your screener questions. This could be anything under the sun depending on what you need to run your study successfully. For example, are there certain browser requirements that you need? Do they need to join with Chrome or Firefox?

There are prototypes that only run in one or the other, so if that’s the case make sure to put that upfront and make sure your participants are willing to download one or the other. Or you can just screen them out entirely if that’s too much of a hassle.

2) Be sure to over-recruit

Just as you would for in-lab studies, make sure you over-recruit participants, so that you have the confidence you’ll have enough people in the end.

We typically over-recruit by at least one or two participants, and what you can do is schedule a different day just for your make-ups. Consider telling a couple of participants, “You’re our backup and will get a phone call if we need you; what time slot do you want on your make-up days?”

That or just over-recruit. If you’re shooting toward ten, recruit twelve, and if you get twelve, yay! It depends on your budget and your timeline.

3) Remember to put reminders and tech instructions in your email

Your goal is to make sure your participants understand the technical side of what you need from them in advance. Ask them to install Zoom or WebEx, for example, or make sure they’re running X on Chrome.

Reminders are key as well, and thankfully there are some tools out there, which you can use to make this easy. Calendly and YouCanBook.me are great, and they have built in reminders that are all automated so you don’t have to even think about that.

4) Make sure you have a dial-in

This is one of the key things that has saved our bacon a couple of times. Imagine that you’re sitting there in your WebEx or your Zoom or whatever meeting room, waiting for the participant to join and they’re not joining. You’re trying to figure out what’s going on only to learn they’re having issues joining the audio through their computer. So having a dial-in number as a backup is a good idea.

5) Be considerate of time zones

I know this is pretty obvious, but there are a lot of mix-ups when it comes to time zones, especially if you’re in a different country than your participant. So in your reminder and booking confirmation emails, always put the time slot in the participant’s time zone.

We don’t recommend putting multiple time zones in there, just put the participant’s time zone to avoid confusion.

6) Ensure there is enough time between the sessions to reset

You might want to talk to your stakeholders in between sessions or you might have a talker. That way even if you go over your time you’ll have buffer. We recommend 30 minutes to help you reset and get ready for the next session. Depending on how intense the sessions are, you may actually want to make that buffer closer to an hour.

7) Prepare your consent forms

This is something we know a lot of people do – send NDAs and consent forms. If you’re going to do this, we recommend doing so before the session starts, because it takes one more thing out of the equation that you have to worry about.

At the beginning of the session you can double-check to make sure that they did sign those forms and they’re good with the recordings. As a joke, I say “Don’t worry we’re not going to put you on YouTube” because I sometimes get questions about where the video will end up – so be prepared to reassure participants that it will only be used internally.

8) Make rescheduling and cancelling an easy process

Finally, have a way to easily reschedule or cancel. Those tools we mentioned before, like YouCanBook.me, have that all built in. It is pretty slick to be honest. You can go into the original email that was sent to the participant and they can click a button and reschedule or cancel from there. If you’re doing it manually make sure it is going to a human, i.e. yourself or your recruiter, and not to an info@company.com email that you may forget about.

Just to stress the point on preparation: We have watched and conducted hundreds of these sessions and even then we cannot always anticipate all the problems that might arise. Anything that can go wrong usually does, so you just have to prepare, prepare, prepare beforehand for as many situations as possible to try and mitigate them.

To learn more about conducting successful remote moderated research, download our full-length ebook: Remote Moderated 101.