Best Practices in Recruiting a Diverse Participant Pool

Where to find participants


Who to recruit.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Recruiting participants for user research is a common practice and job for UX researchers. In the UX research plan, it is necessary that participant recruitment reflects the target user groups and marginalized user groups. The result of the research will play a big role in shaping design process because it takes into account the pain points and suggestions from the users.

Where to find participants

Finding participants for UX research is never be easy and time consuming, however; there are works around in the followings.

Existing user base

For the existing companies, recruiting an existing user base is the best way to go, because of the established relationship and connection. Google and Facebook both have its own user recruitment site, which you can sign up to see how their UX recruitment works.


Another option is online recruitment like through social media, professional network site like LinkedIn. Often time, this can be time consuming because there is a chance that your post is never read. You might need to re post as often as you can. Groups are the perfect online present that you can find the right target audience for your target research. Lastly, using the professional services like TestBirds or User Testing or User Interview. The downside of the online recruitment is the chance of missing out on target and marginalized user groups in the process.

Hallway testing

It sounds as it is, asking someone in the hallway to try out the product you’ve designed. The good thing about this recruitment is fast and free with a possible target audience. The disadvantage is that the feedback might not have all the characteristics of your product’s potential users.


Incentives are something that motivates or encourages people to participate in a research study. Incentives can take the form of monetary compensation, gift cards, physical gifts, or a gesture to thank participants for their time and feedback like a paid lunch.

Who to recruit

Research plan should include a list of the primary characteristics of the people you will recruit to participate in the study. The types of participants should be based on the research goals and the target users of the product you’re designing.

A screen survey is a detailed list of questions that help determine whether potential participants meet the requirements of the research study. Check out steps by steps in writing the screener surveys from User Interviews.

Screen survey should enable the researcher to recruit and capture feedback from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and abilities to ensure the designs are accessible and equitable. A representative sample is a small group of participants who represent both your target user group and marginalized user groups. A marginalized population is one where people have specific characteristics and life experiences that prevent them from fitting into what society inaccurately defines as “normal,” such as people with disabilities or people with limited access to technology. The bottom line is that collecting feedback from a representative sample will help enrich the overall user experience on your product.

Alert on recruiting people of all abilities.

You might want to include people based on their disability status by asking directly, which can be illegal in many situation. Disability status can be considered Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information. It is best to recruit participant based on the assistive technologies rather than recruiting participants who are visually impaired, hearing impaired or who have physical impairments. Below are the examples for assistive technologies you might want to involve in the study.

  • Screen readers
  • Closed captions
  • Switch devices
  • Keyboard-only navigation
  • Magnification devices or magnified screens
  • Any other assistive technologies that will provide insights about your UX design

In conclusion, collecting feedback from participants during research are key to the success of your product’s design. Participants provide valuable perspective about the user experience you’ve developed and can highlight areas for improvement in your work.

The size of the participants should be between five and eight. Five is a large enough sample size to gain valuable feedback, and there is often diminishing return on investment if more than eight participants are added to the study.

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