These best practice guidelines will help your project succeed, whichever research and design methods you plan to try.
Find research participants
During the semester this is easy: we're literally surrounded by students!
For guerilla testing or quick surveys where it doesn't matter too much who takes part, try University cafes, social areas and the talking-allowed sections of libraries, but never interrupt someone's studies. You could also set up pop-up research stations in these areas.
For more in-depth surveys and to recruit people for longer research sessions, target your actual or intended user groups via email lists, forums, newsletters, well-placed posters and strategic word-of-mouth. Offering an incentive REALLY helps - more on that below.
MyGlasgow User Panel
A self-selected community of willing research participants - including around 200 students and staff - managed through the MyGlasgow User Panel Moodle for the purpose of improving UofG websites and systems. If you'd like to seek research participants from the MyGlasgow User Panel, contact Kat Husbands.
It helps to reassure people upfront that all data will be anonymised, so plan in advance how you're going to achieve that - eg by using participant numbers rather than names, by blurring out sensitive data in screen recordings, or by simply not collecting personal data in the first place.
The UofG UX Project found the most effective way to attract students is to offer vouchers, University swag (especially hoodies) or pizza! Be sure to get your participants to sign receipts for any cash or cash-equivalent incentives. You can combine the receipt with the consent form.
The complexities of income tax law mean the only incentive you can offer staff is nice catering at the research session itself. The best way to attract them, then, is to appeal to their areas of interest. Think about which staff groups most use - or would be most affected by changes to - the thing you are doing research on, and target them in your recruitment. You can still recruit more widely too - eg through the MyGlasgow User Panel - as you never know who else might be interested.
Structure of an in-person research session
- Arrive early enough to take a breather after getting the room set up.
- Welcome and settle the participant, being friendly but not too chatty - save that for the main part of the session.
- Explain what's going to happen during the session and check if they have any questions.
- If you promised an incentive, hand it over now. If it's cash or a cash-equivalent, get them to sign a receipt.
- Hand them your privacy notice to read, checking for questions again.
- Get them to sign your consent form, then immediately store it out of sight.
- If you're recording, start the recording, telling them that's what you're doing.
- Thank your participant profusely.
- If you saved up any questions from the participant during the session, answer them now.
- Thank them again and send them on their way.
- If you were recording, stop the recording and make sure it is securely saved, with a file name that makes sense.
- Take a few minutes to reflect on the session and jot down notes, for example:
- What worked or didn't work?
- What would you do differently next time?
- Any other observations?
- As soon as possible, back up the recording.
- Also as soon as possible, securely file the consent form.
- Take a breather before the next participant arrives.