How do you ensure the best-quality participants for user research?

Four steps to maximizing the usefulness and impact of your research by finding the right participants

When planned correctly, UX research is a brilliant way to gather a wealth of quality insights to help your business make well-informed and valuable improvements to the customer journey. 

Knowing where to begin can often seem overwhelming – but don’t panic. This blog post is the first in a series of three sharing our top tips and tricks to help you achieve best-in-class results. 

We start with a deep dive into the importance of quality data and quality participants…

Why is data quality important? 

Over recent years, we have become more and more aware of the fantastic value that consumer insights can bring when making important improvements to the customer journey. 

With this rapid increase in demand for consumer data comes a growing apprehension around the quality and integrity of that data. A major contributing factor to this mounting concern can be attributed to a change in consumer awareness and discretion when it comes to supplying personal data. 

On the one hand, now more than ever before, consumers are acutely aware of the risks they are exposed to when sharing personal details with the wrong sources, particularly when done online or over the phone. 

On the other hand, consumers are constantly incentivized to provide this important data. The result? The amount of data has skyrocketed but the quality has plummeted, leading to distorted insights. In fact, a survey by Imperium found a huge 200% increase in online sample fraud over the past year alone. 

Scary right? Don’t worry. We’re here to help. 

What makes for exceptional data quality, and how does this apply to participants?

So, we’ve spoken a little bit about the importance of data quality, but how do we make sure that the data we are collecting is best-in-class? Better still, how do we make sure that the consumers we are obtaining this data from are the right ones? 

When we talk about the ‘right’ participants for UX research, we mean that they will be best placed to provide you with objective, useful and relevant data. They should have experience using your product or service reasonably often and therefore should be able to give honest constructive feedback. 

This will lead to the kind of data that gives valuable and clear insights for you to share with the business. Before recruiting these participants, you’ll also want to dedicate some time to clarify your target audience. This should be reflective of the target demographic of the business, taking into consideration factors such as age, employment, household income, education, and location. 

If you would like some more information on the topic of participant recruiting, we have written a whole ebook on the subject.

Participant recruiting 101

Everything you need to successfully recruit the ‘right’ participants for user research

What can you do to ensure data quality? Our four top tips...

1. Stick to the ESOMAR guidelines 

These guidelines set out by the World Association for Social, Opinion, and Market Research offer guidance on the operational requirements for the provision of online samples for market, opinion, and social research.

They set out methods to be used by online sample providers, buyers, and end clients to ensure that a sample meets widely accepted quality criteria.

These guidelines cover everything from cookies to best design practices, and we highly recommend reading them cover to cover. 

2. Make use of screeners 

To summarize screeners in one sentence, they are questions designed to help you filter out participants that wouldn’t necessarily be the right fit for your research. They are normally written as either multiple-choice or checkboxes, so as not to lead the participant into answering one way or the other.

The key to screeners is to be direct and clear, but do not make it obvious which answer you are looking for from the participant. In the long-run screeners will help safeguard your data, making sure you don’t have to revert later to re-recruit or vet your participants. 

3. Take steps to avoid bias in testing 

Bias can be caused by a multitude of different factors such as personal likes and dislikes, previous experiences, or subconscious attitudes or preferences. In all instances, bias in user testing can significantly impact the validity of your data. After all, the whole point of user research is to gather objective and constructive feedback on your product, not to collect biased opinions on how things should be.

There are, of course, steps you can and should take to avoid bias in your user testing. For example, use open questions instead of leading questions, and try unmoderated testing to capture feedback without the presence of a moderator.

4. Make sure you have the right support 

Like we mentioned before, carrying out UX research and testing is no small feat. If you have successfully secured buy-in from the C-suite, then you are going to want to make sure you can show ROI for the investment.

Get in touch 

With this in mind, if you would like to hear a little more about how UserZoom can help you reach a high-quality audience in a fast scalable way, then please get in touch! Alternatively, stay tuned next week for our follow-up blog featuring more helpful hints and tips... Five best practices for ensuring quality user research.


Get started with UserZoom today