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BlogAwkward Silences

October 1, 2019

  • Last Updated:
  • February 12, 2020

Why Participants Participate in User Research with Brittany Rutherford of User Interviews

We’ve talked a lot about how researchers do research, now it’s time to hear from the participants.

Carrie Boyd

We’ve spent most of our time making Awkward Silences talking to researchers. In that time, we’ve talked a lot about how to find the right participants for your research study but we haven’t taken the time to actually talk to some participants about how they feel about the whole process. So this week, we’re chatting with our Participant Marketing Lead, Brittany Rutherford, about all things participants. We also invited some recent UI participants to leave us voice messages through our Anchor page telling us a bit more about why they participate in user research.

The best stories about user research

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[3:14] The importance of incentives

[6:03] Participating helps you learn new things

[7:53] Getting to see something before anyone else is pretty exciting

[9:23] People want to contribute their experiences

[12:10] Everyone wants to have their opinion heard

[14:13] Participating in research can be like therapy

[17:18] Be specific with the title of your study

[18:41] Paying incentives on time

[20:37] Provide clear directions

[23:07] Keep your screeners short

[25:44] Pick a good time for your sessions

Why do participants participate?

When we decided we wanted to do an episode all about participants, we put the call out to our own participant community. We invited some participants who had recently completed studies with User Interviews to leave us voice messages on our Anchor page (which you can do too, by the way!). We asked them to answer the question “Why do you participate in user research?”. Of course, many mentioned that the ability to make some extra cash was a big motivator to start participating, but most found that they were also participating to connect with people, have their opinions heard, and learn more about what’s happening in the marketplace. 

1. It’s always good to have some pocket money

This is a big reason many participants decide to start participating in user research. It’s always good to have some extra cash, whether you’re saving up for a big life event, supplementing your income in a difficult time, or just want to have an extra night out. As we listened to participant voicemails we found that, while the monetary incentive is important, it’s not the main reason participants keep participating. One participant, Brooke, said she enjoyed the actual session almost as much, if not more than the incentive she received. 

I've found that I've come to enjoy speaking with researchers almost as much if not more than the incentive I get in the end. So that's why I've participated for as long as I have. I've been doing research studies and user interviews for about a year and a half and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

2. People like to learn new things

Really, everyone likes to learn new things. Being the first one to see a new product, or learning more about what goes on before a product reaches shelves or screens, is pretty exciting. Many of the participants who answered our call for voice messages liked being able to stay up to date with trends and see things before they were released. Peter said it was a great thing to do instead of watching TV at night. 

I'm not someone who can sit still and sit back and watch a movie in the evenings or watch TV or something. So this gives me a way to be active and keep my brain active and do something constructive.

Participating in research can even help people learn new skills, or hone existing ones. James said that it has helped him improve his ability to express his thoughts clearly, 

Over the years, I've developed an ability to much better express my thoughts and it's much easier for me to say what I'm thinking, and that has helped me not only personally but professionally as well. So, it's interesting to be able to talk to people about why you like or dislike something. It just makes my thoughts more articulate and it, just, helps every area of my life.

There aren’t many things that ask you to express yourself quite like participating in research. Participating often can help people get comfortable expressing clearly why they feel the way they do about something, which is a great skill to have as a research participant and as a person. 

3. Everyone has a unique perspective to contribute

A few participants noted that they were excited to offer their opinion because they had a unique perspective, or could help represent a larger group of people who felt the way they did about a product or service. One participant, Brian, put it this way,

I participate because I feel that I represent a large number of people in my demographic and with my opinion. So I know that when I'm speaking to interviewers and researchers on a call, I know that my voice, if I'm having a problem, there's thousands and thousands of people that are having a problem with the website as well. So I really like that I get to be a part of a larger audience.

Researchers can’t talk to everyone who uses their product or service, so they’re often trying to get a representative sample of their user base. Participants know this, and part of the reward of participating in research is knowing that your voice is heard and you’ve helped others like you. Sometimes, participants have specialized experience, like Peter, who ran a hospital in Afghanistan,

I was an administrator of a hospital in Afghanistan several years ago as part of a master's degree program. I think that the experience I have makes it something that I think people will find valuable and then I can contribute to what they're doing and eventually contribute to how our society communicates and purchases and sells and all that.

Being the administrator of a hospital in Afghanistan has its own challenges and circumstances, which Peter is uniquely qualified to help researchers learn about. Oftentimes, learning about the nuances of specialized experience can help make products actually useful in context. 

4. We’re meant to connect with other people

The last theme that we heard in our voicemails was a wonderfully human one. We like to connect with other people, whether it’s researchers or other participants through studies like focus groups. We even had one participant, Harris, say participating was like therapy, in a way. 

I really enjoy being able to give my opinion. I think it's, I don't know, in a funny way kind of like therapy because you all get to listen and so I just really enjoy the opportunity.

Talking through the problems you’ve faced while using a product or service and knowing that researchers are actually planning to make changes based on your opinions is a pretty great feeling. Though therapy isn’t quite what we were going for, we appreciate the comparison 😄. Through research, both participants and researchers get to connect with and learn about each other, which is pretty darn great. 

How can researchers attract the best participants?

We also took some time to talk about common themes Brittany sees that can help researchers attract more participants to their studies. 

Find a good name for your research study

Giving your research study a name that is engaging without giving away too much information is a hard needle to thread. We know. But it’s worth spending a little extra time on, since participants are scrolling through pages of research studies, searching for one that looks interesting to apply to. The key here is to try to give enough information that tells participants why they should be interested in your study and to keep your language down-to-earth and human. 

Offer a fair incentive

While the incentive may not be a participants main reason for participating, it’s still a big part of the equation. Everyone’s time is valuable. Participants are giving up a chunk of their day to offer you feedback and help you learn more about your users. We offer some recommendations on how to choose an incentive for your study if you’re looking for some guidance. 

The next part of a fair incentive is distributing your incentives ASAP after your session with a participant. If you’re using User Interviews to distribute incentives, this is pretty easy, since we release incentives as soon as you mark that participants have completed their session. 

Be direct

When you’re writing up the directions for your research study, be as clear as possible. This can include a how-to for starting a Zoom session and sharing your screen, specific directions for getting to an in-person study (including where to park!), or detailed instructions to complete an unmoderated task. Participants can’t read your mind and sometimes leaving out instructions, or writing instructions that aren’t very clear, leads to confusion and frustration for everyone involved. 

The best way to avoid murky instructions is to invite someone to, in JH’s words, “test the test”. Have someone look over the instructions for your study and tell you if they’re clear enough to send to participants, some of whom may have never participated in research before. Ideally, your copy editing buddy is someone who doesn’t have a role in your research study, like a friend, parent, or partner. 

Keep the screener simple

If your screener takes longer to complete than your actual research session, you may be asking for too much information up front. We recommend keeping your screener survey between 5-10 questions, but honestly, the fewer questions you can get away with, the better. We’ve heard from some participants that, if the screeners too long, it feels like the actual research session more than a preliminary check. We also see significant dropoff rates in long (25+ question) screeners, making it harder to recruit the right participants. 

If you need some tips on how to build the best screener survey for your study, we wrote all about how to craft a great screener here

Be mindful of your participants time

Scheduling sessions at times that are likely to be convenient for your participants is a good way to improve their experience. Typically, this means scheduling sessions at lunchtime or at the end of the day, as these are the times participants will most likely be free. If your study is in-person, these times become even more important to consider because your participant also has to get to and from the session. When deciding on session times, try to think about the times your participants will be most free, as this may be different for different audiences. 

About our Guest

Brittany Rutherford is the Participant Marketing Lead at User Interviews. She spends tons of time talking to UI participants, working to make their experience better, and thinking about the next big thing for participants. 


Erin: This is Erin May.

JH: I'm John Henry Forrester and this is Awkward ... Silences.

Erin: Silences.

Erin: Hi everybody and welcome back to Awkward Silences. I am here with my cohost JH.

JH: I am here.

Erin: And even more importantly we are here today with a very special UI-er. We've got Brittany Rutherford, she is our participant marketing lead. Brittany, welcome.

Brittany: Hey. How's it going?

Erin: It's going great. We brought Brittany in as a guest today to talk about all things participants. And we have historically been really focused on the researcher side of our audience. But really, user interviews without participants is not user interviews at all. And so, we wanted to spend some time getting inside the mind of research participants and we have over 175,000 of them as part of our panel here at User Interviews. And we brought Brittany in who is an expert in all things participants to help shed some light. So thanks for joining us Brittany.

Brittany: I'm excited. Thank you.

Erin: Great. So as part of our research to explore participants, we reached out to them. Brittany you want to talk to us, a little bit, about how you got some insights from our participants?

Brittany: Yeah, so I looked at, just, some participants that had participated recently and reach out to them and said "Would you like to, maybe, be on our podcast?". And we had a great response from that. We had them leave an up to one minute voicemail answering the question "Why do I participate?". And so we got some common themes going and some diverse perspectives on things from a varied group of people, so ...

Harris F.: My name's Harris Fleming and I've been using User Interviews for the last nine months.

Peter L. : Good afternoon. My name is Peter Lombard.

Sandy: Hey there, this is Sandy.

Randi R.: My name is Randi Reiff.

Jamila R. : Hello, my name is Jamila Rasheed.

Anthony W.: Yes, hello. My name is Anthony Wood.

James: Hi there. My name is James and I love doing user testing.

Erin: Awesome. We spent some time digging through this and finding those themes and we want to talk through what we heard in common and some divergencies, in terms of what motivates participants to be part of research. So Brittany, you want to kick it off? What was the first thing we heard a lot of?

Brittany: Yeah, so participants love making money, that's a motivator for a lot of people. So we heard that pretty commonly through the voicemails that we listened to.

JH: What was interesting to this one, for me, it was it's a transaction. People are there and they want to be compensated for their time. Rightfully so, but as we listened to all the voicemails, people left, it was like, it was a pretty minor theme. It came up in all of them so it was there, but it was a lot of "Yeah, you know, the incentive's nice, but ...". People were much more effusive about all the other themes we're going to talk about. So it was interesting, to me, that of course everybody referenced it, but it didn't feel like it was the crux of it for anyone, if that makes sense.

Erin: Yeah, and I think, you know, there's so many different ways to make a little extra money these days. As we know, there's tons of websites just dedicated to how do I earn some extra money, whether that be as a stay at home mom or working remotely or whatever. The different niche use case you have for wanting to make a little extra money is there's websites out there to help you do it. And so ultimately that's not what keeps people around, right? Keeps them checking out studies and applying to new studies. It's that, of all the ways out there to make a little extra money, there's something about this way that is really rewarding, and that's what we found with some of the other themes.

JH: For sure, and just to be, you know ... To maybe zoom out a little, right, sometimes you think about it, a $50 incentive and if you're, you know, in a corporate setting that doesn't seem like a ton of money, but if you're, you know, at home or you working part time like and your only, you know, and you're getting 50 bucks for 30 minutes, not a lot of people make $100 an hour. That's a pretty significant, you know, chunk of change for the, for the time, and especially if it's an activity you find engaging and you find enjoyable. It is a pretty meaningful amount of money in a lot of instances.

Brittany: Right, if you're a student or a retiree, a $50 is everything. So yeah.

Erin: Yeah, and on the other end of the spectrum, right, we, we see participants across a variety of different income levels and career tribes and so on and so forth. If you can find a half an hour on your lunch break and it's something you're going to enjoy, just, you know, the incentive needs to just be sufficient, right. To, to give up a half hour of your lunch break. So all sorts of different motivators when it comes to where that money is fitting in people's lives. But suffice it to say, it is a draw, especially initially when people are first coming to user interviews to sign up and create a participant account.

JH: For sure. For sure. That one wasn't super surprising, but I'm glad we covered it. The other themes, I thought were much more interesting. So let's switch gears a little Britt. What was another theme that you heard?

Brittany: Okay, so the next one was an opportunity to learn, so we'll hear in a clip later, but someone used a term berg ... Learning about things that are burgeoning in the marketplace. So, "What's on with technology? How can I improve my communication skills?". Stuff like that came up a good bit. People like to learn and just have that opportunity to get to know different products and websites and apps and stuff like that.

James: One of the reasons I got into it was, one, initially, just to make money. I love making money on the side so I can buy gadgets. I'm an IT guy and a geek and I love buying shiny things that use electricity and do fun things, so I got into user testing, but as I've grown into it, and over the years, I've developed an ability to much better express my thoughts and it's much easier for me to say what I'm thinking, and that has helped me not only personally but professionally as well. So, it's interesting to be able to talk to people about why you like or dislike something. It just makes my thoughts more articulate and it, just, helps every area of my life.

Erin: Yeah, for sure. And technology has, I was going to say invaded, let's say invaded, you know, it's certainly part of every aspect of our lives now. And so, consumers are, sort of, like closer to these companies, right, in a way, than the maybe in the past. And curious to know how are these things being designed, and so, you know, that's on the consumer side. And then on the B to B side, obviously there's a lot of familiarity with some of the things that are being designed for themselves to, then, use. So a lot of curiosity about ... An interest in making those products better because you know, those are going to impact their lives.

JH: Yeah. And it's just cool to see early glimpses of things, right, before everyone else does. I think that's human nature to some degree. Remember, movies they used to have sneak previews and they'd show stuff a night early or whatever.

Erin: Right.

JH: Or, if you were in a small shop and somebody was like "Hey, do you want to come in the back and see something I'm working on?" You'd be excited to do that. You know what I mean? I think sometimes we forget about that piece of it, but if someone's going to show you a prototype of their app or new features that they might include or that kind of stuff. That's cool stuff to learn about. It's legitimately interesting and ... Especially for users of those services or of those products.

Erin: Yeah, and it's always fun for me to, kind of, peruse the different studies that researchers are launching on user interviews. You know, dozens a day, new ones go up and across, you know, things you wouldn't even think of. So it's always that, even that in itself, just looking at the range of studies and the kinds of research that are happening is always interesting to look through.

JH: Yeah. Sometimes they really peak your curiosity like, Ooh, I wonder what that is and you want to like, you want to learn more? It's like ...

Brooke: Definitely, and the reason I participate is because I really love sharing my thoughts and opinions and talking with people. I love learning about new products and services and learning more about brands that I didn't know existed and brands or companies that I already love. Full transparency. I do a lot of research studies and user interviews as a side hustle, but I've found that I've come to enjoy speaking with researchers almost as much if not more than the incentive I get in the end. So that's why I've participated for as long as I have. I've been doing research studies and user interviews for about a year and a half and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

Brittany: Okay, so the next theme was, people like to contribute their experience. So, every person has a unique set of their preferences and motivations and goals and the things they'd done in their job or their family or life experiences that they feel like they can contribute and provide a unique voice to the research study at hand.

Peter L. : I'm not someone who can sit still and sit back and watch a movie in the evenings or watch TV or something. So this gives me a way to be active and keep my brain active and do something constructive, if you will. The other thing, is I've had a very diverse life experience. In fact, I literally just finished a conversation with a friend about how, you know, I ran a hospital, I was an administrator of a hospital in Afghanistan several years ago as part of a master's degree program. I think that the experience I have makes it something that I think people will find valuable and then I can contribute to what they're doing and eventually contribute to how our society communicates and purchases and sells and all that.

Erin: That's right. And there's an interesting, not a contradiction, but someone said, you know, "I can provide my unique perspective that is at the same time, representative of my demographic.". In other words, when researchers are doing qualitative research, right, it's quality over quantity. You're not going to talk to every single person representing that demographic, but you can get so much rich data within that demographic by really diving in and talking to a few folks. And you kind of heard that, when people talked about, "I have a unique story and I have a lot to offer and that's going to say something meaningful about this larger group that I represent.".

Brian: All right? So I participate because I feel that I represent a large number of people in my demographic and with my opinion. So I know that when I'm speaking to interviewers and researchers on a call, I know that my voice, if I'm having a problem, there's thousands and thousands of people that are having a problem with the website as well. So I really like that I get to be a part of a larger audience. I also like that I get to speak my mind. I get to earn money doing something that, you know, really is, it comes easy to me and that's just talking out loud and, and really getting to be a part of something great. I really do like user interviews had a great experience doing it.

JH: Yeah, this was my favorite one. Not to get like too lofty or soap boxy but I think a lot of, if you look across society and stuff at the moment you see a lot of people, kind of, talking louder and louder and shouting over each other. And I would, I guess, hypothesize that that's, you know, from this like innate desire to be heard, you know what I mean? And so, to have a big company or you know, the makers of a product you use come to you and say "Hey, your experience is really valuable to us and your unique perspective is something we want to hear and we value that.". I think that chance to be heard is really legitimate and really empowering for people, and ... So it was cool to see people bring this one up and I don't know, it just really struck a cord with me. I liked this one a lot.

Brittany: It kind of leads leads into our next theme, which is just talking to people. It seemed like a good amount of voicemails we heard, people wanted to just enjoy the conversation and wanted to ... They just enjoyed discussing topics. They wanted to talk to people. They wanted to, just, get their voice out there. So it was also just an ... People enjoyed talking.

JH: Participants might make a good podcast host, it turns out. They like to talk. That came up a lot.

Sandy: I participate in user interviews because it's a lot of fun. I end up learning a lot. It's nice to connect with other people and also, of course, it's good to make some extra cash.

Erin: Yeah, absolutely. It's similar to the, like you said, Brittany, and I segue from the last theme of contributing your experience in having your voice heard, but really engaging in a dialogue with other folks. And when you think about, you know, like society at large, and we're all in our echo chambers and all this sort of stuff, how many opportunities are there to, kind of, randomly connect with other people and just talk to them with no strings attached. Someone said that participating in research was like therapy and, you know, disclaimer, disclaimer, that's not the stated intent of user interviews but it is great that it's, you know, we're connecting people that people like to talk to people. People are meant to not spend their time alone. And so, a cool side benefit, right, of the user research is getting folks talking to each other.

Harris F.: I really enjoy being able to give my opinion. I think it's, I don't know, in a funny way kind of like therapy because you all get to listen and so just really enjoy the opportunity, and of course the cash doesn't hurt either.

Brittany: I've even had feedback before from participants that they really enjoyed their focus group. So even just talking with their peers and sharing their views with their peers was super enjoyable and that they ended up making a friend out of it or just having that solid social experience.

Erin: I wonder if we have any participant focus group match make love stories, connections. If that's you and you're listening, please let us know. We'd love to hear that story.

JH: Yeah, if you need a, if you need to do research with introverts, it might be a little bit trickier since it did seem like the participants we sampled were skewed extroverted, but yeah, it's really cool that people like just that human interaction and having a chance to talk to somebody new and get to know somebody else and just have that whole interaction. All right, a quick awkward interruption here. It's fun to talk about user research, but you know what's really fun is doing user research and we want to help you with that.

Erin: We want to help you so much that we have created a special place. It's called for you to get your first three participants free.

JH: We all know we should be talking to users more, so we went ahead and removed as many barriers as possible. It's going to be easy. It's going to be quick. You're going to love it. So get over there and check it out.

Erin: And then when you're done with that, go on over to your favorite podcasting app and leave us a review please. Cool. So those were, those are the main themes that we heard when we asked participants why they are motivated to participate. Brittany, talk to us about, you think about this all the time, really, the voice of the customer, the voice of the participant, what's on their minds, how do we keep them happy and engage them and user interviews. So, talk to us about, given some of these realities about why participants want to participate, how can researchers use that information to attract the best participants to their studies?

Brittany: Yeah, I think looking at it, that ... Major themes that came up were beyond getting paid. So there was learning, there was "I enjoy communicating.". All those things, I think, is, just, looking at the participant as a person, as a human being that's there to a meeting of the minds over a topic. I think how we can improve that experience for participants is when setting up the study, having good study titles and good study descriptions really go a long way. I get feedback all the time from participants that "The title is super vague.", or "I wasn't sure what the study was about so I didn't apply to it.". And so I think there's such value in setting that initial set up, being clear and human in the way that you're describing your study.

JH: Yeah. To be fair to the researchers, right, I think this is a tricky one because we also say you don't want to have leading titles or leading descriptions and I think people do kind of air on this vague opt out, which I think is a mistake too, right? It's a real Goldilocks, sweet spot situation, where you need to be specific enough and, you know, engaging enough that people have a good sense of what they're signing up for and you're attracting the right people but not so specific that people know how to game your screener and you get in people who are not truly qualified. So I think it's a really tough one to get right, but I think it's important for researchers to not just take the cop out and just do everything super vague and super generic because I don't think that helps them either.

Brittany: Definitely. Okay. So the next one we, we thought up is, the importance of incentives. So a fair incentive that incentivizes the study, monetarily, compared to who it is. So we listed recommendations on our site for professionals versus just a consumer testing study. We found that there is value in that it, you do attract people with a more fair incentive and also the importance of paying out that incentive in a timely manner. Most people expect it relatively in a good timeframe after you complete this study, not weeks and weeks and weeks after.

Erin: That's right, and if you use the user interviews platform, it's super easy. You know, just as soon as you market a participant, you know complete that the session actually happened, the payment is released if you're using the the Amazon payments that we offer, so definitely recommend that as a way to get those incentives paid out swiftly and painlessly on everyone's part.

JH: Yeah, and Brittany, you mentioned a little bit about, you know, remembering it's another human on the other side of this is I think that goes a long way too, right? If you're, if you're going back and forth of you know, should we do 25 bucks or 30 bucks for the half hour or whatever, like just think about what it means to the participant, you know what I mean? And how much more like out sized impact that has. That extra $5 for the half hour is actually like $10 an hour. You know, more if you kind of extrapolate it out and it's ... That's more than the minimum wage. That's more than a lot of people make. An extra $10 an hour is really significant and you know, and if five bucks on your research bud, you know, an extra five bucks on every session for your research budget isn't going to be great, but you can probably stomach it and you want people showing up there for the right reasons. You want them to be happy. You want, you know, the value that you're going to get from them is almost certainly going to be more than that extra you put on top. So just, you know, when in doubt, maybe just round up a little bit or just, you know, try to generally do the right thing.

Erin: Absolutely. And we'll actually be launching a study soon on incentives with lots of quantitative detail on what we recommend for incentives, but there is a strong correlation between incentivizing in a fair way and getting a good turnout for your studies. So recommend. What else you got Brittany?

Brittany: All right. Yeah, so we have clear directions so participants don't know what you don't tell them. So making sure you provide ample instructions and the link and almost going, I like to say like a little bit deeper than maybe ... Okay, so my mom actually has participated on User Interviews and so I think of "what is the amount of detail that my mom would be comfortable with.". So just thinking of maybe not the most tech savvy person or maybe not the most ... Just they, maybe this is their first study ever, ever. And so, "Let me just put all the instructions in front of them so that they can be prepared.". And then the other part of this is also timely communications. So, answering questions quickly, getting ... Helping troubleshoot, things like that, so that participants can have all the tools and pieces they need to succeed with your study.

JH: Yeah, I mean this is the saying that I always use "Just test the test.". Have somebody else go through it at your company. Test the instructions, test what's going on, make sure [inaudible 00:21:46] going to be clear. Because when we see these issues, it really is ... Everyone loses. The participants gets frustrated and doesn't know what to do. The research is getting stressed out that the person is not showing up or not doing the right thing. It's just, it's a real nobody wins scenario. And so, definitely, you know, be on top of this one. It's super important.

Erin: Yeah, and for many of the tests that we see, basically someone needs to dial into some kind of Zoom or conference call or they need to show up somewhere for many tests, not at all. So just having those directions, be clear, "Where do I park? Do I need to download Zoom or something beforehand?" makes such a world of difference and saving everybody a ton of time and just having a better experience overall, which is what you want. You want folks, kind of, entering clean and not frustrated and ready to engage in the test in front of them. Not all flustered and panicked with, you know, assume that isn't set up or needs to be updated.

JH: Yeah. And have somebody proofread it, right, because clarity is often, you know, succinct. Really verbose rambling, long instructions might tell you everything you need to do, but the participants going to be looking at this quickly and probably trying to make sense of it and you know, find a buddy who can be your copy editor and try to whittle it down to the essential if you can.

Brittany: Right. The next tip we have is try to not have super, super long screeners. So something I've heard a lot from participants is after about 20, 25 screener questions. The questions that someone's answering before they've qualified for the study, they're just applying. Beyond that, I think people tend to drop out. We see some higher dropout rates and participants get a little, just antsy that they are spending so much time on the front end filling out long screeners. I think if you can keep your screener, 1 to 25 questions, you're just in a safer bet to have the most participants apply as you want.

Erin: We also hear participants occasionally say they thought the list screener was the test when they get taken so long.

Brittany: Right.

Erin: And you know, fair enough, right? If you're spending, you know, an hour to test into the test, that's a lot of free time. We understand obviously some tests require a more niche audiences and more qualification than others, but really limiting it to what's strictly necessary to get the right folks in, will give you a better result.

JH: Yeah, this is a real "The road to hell is paved with good intentions.", or whatever that saying is. Obviously people are putting all these questions in there for good reason, but it's just, it just isn't a great scenario for anyone. And you know, people who are doing research are usually usability experts or designers, right? Think about the usability of your screener. Is this something that somebody is actually going to get through because that's going to affect your outcome. You know, just as having too short of a screener is going to do the same thing and the other way. So just, you know, it's tough in a lot of situations but it's a good one to keep in mind.

Brittany: Yeah, and if you do have more questions, follow up questions, we, if you are using User Interviews, you can use advanced screening and then contact participants that you're particularly interested in to get some further information from them. But having everybody take your 50 questions screener kind of tough. All right, the last tip is keep the time of day that your sessions are in mind. We have a super diverse participant base. Everyone from all walks of life, all sorts of people, but we do hear a fair amount that sessions during business hours can be really tough for working adults, especially when they're in person. So if you have any flexibility with early mornings or kind of the after work time or even on the weekends, that can be beneficial for folks that do work, or do you have responsibilities during business hours.

Erin: Absolutely. Wouldn't lunchtime set a good time?

Brittany: Yeah. Lunchtime does seem to be a good time. And then, kind of, after at about four and on, I think people can sometimes cut out a little bit early from work but, sort of, that mid morning and mid-afternoon, those sessions can be rough for some people.

JH: Yeah, it's a good one to factor into your in person versus remote sessions, calculus, right? If your sessions have to happen at a certain time and those are not times that are friendly to in-person, for people who work, then maybe, you know, you hedge towards remote sessions. If you can do your sessions at anytime of day and you can do them after hours, you can do them during lunch, then, you know, maybe that's a point in favor of doing them in person and having people come into the office. So, just factor it into your decision making if you can.

Erin: Yeah, and remind people when the sessions are, of course we'll plug User Interviews one more time if you're using User Interviews, it's very easy. We automate all of this, but if you're not, definitely remind participants when those sessions are in their local time or in whatever relative time it is. Time zones. We could do a whole episode on time zones, but make that time zone clear and that location clearance and send that reminder so folks don't forget to show up at the time you agreed to.

JH: Cool. Any closing thoughts with that?

Brittany: Closing thoughts? I was just reflecting on, sort of, my position and working with participants and I just love it because I'm ... There's a user experience study out there for everybody. People want to know about every single thing you can imagine. So, I just love that really everybody can be a part of this and just that you can be a part of the community of, you know, such a diverse group. So that's what I really enjoy about working with participants and being the voice for them and advocating for them. So yeah.

Erin: Well, thanks for all you do Brittany.

JH: Yeah, totally. Yeah. I always, when I'm talking to people, you know, when we're trying to hire or interview folks and stuff, I always say, unique part of this role, especially being on the product side is just, we're very blessed in terms of when we need to go out and talk to our users. Everyone's pretty willing to talk to us, unusually so. And on the researcher side, right, it's like "Hey, these are, you know, product managers or designers or user research professionals, and they love sharing their opinions.", and so they're happy to engage with us, but on the other side of the coin, it's, the other users are just our participants. They like to participate. So when we go out and talk to them about their experiences, they're very happy to do it too, and super engaging, and, you know, we're very fortunate in our little setup here.

Erin: Thanks for listening to awkward silences brought to you by User Interviews,

JH: Theme music by Fragile Gang.

Erin: Editing and sound production by Carrie Boyd.

Carrie Boyd

Content Creator

Carrie Boyd is a Content Creator at User Interviews. She loves writing, traveling, and learning new things. You can typically find her hunched over her computer with a cup of coffee the size of her face.

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