User Testing – How To Recruit The Right People

August 10, 2017

So you’ve got your product prototyped. Now you want to get some user testing done, but how do you find the right people to test your product?

How do you make sure you get a good mix of your target customers, so you end up with solid, actionable feedback? Getting this right can be time consuming and expensive. On the flipside, if you don’t test your product it could end up being even more expensive.

Finding the right people

The first step to finding the right people is to define who that actually is. Having the right kind of person is going to have a huge impact on the quality of your user testing data. Your challenge is to find participants that are representative of the kind of users you want.

It may help to sit down with the rest of the team and write down exactly who your target demographic is. Say for example you’re setting up usability testing for an online fashion store. Your target demographic might be 18 to 24 year old girls who’ve bought something online in the last 3 months. It’s also important to think about who you want your target customer to be in the future. For example: Say you’re building a scheduling app for hair salons but you want to expand to yoga studios. You’d want to make sure you talk to yoga studio owners as well. In this case, only talking to your current customers isn’t enough.

Luckily, you only need 5-10 people to start getting good results from your tests. Bigger UX studies or focus groups can be up to 30 people but often 5 people is enough as a starting point.

Recruiting user testing participants

Now that you know what kind of people you want, and how many, it’s time to start recruiting! Plenty of market research companies offer recruitment but the costs can be prohibitive. Especially if you’re a bootstrapped startup or if you’re an agency and your client has a tight budget.

Your own users

The first and most obvious place to start is your own database, especially if you don’t need to talk to new users. If you have a mailing list, you can email your own users and ask them to help you improve the product. Your own users are often happy to help, since providing feedback will benefit them too.

Paid advertising

If you have the budget for it, paid advertising on Google or Facebook can be quite effective. This does need a bit of extra work in setting up the ads, creating landing pages and filtering out the leads.


If you get enough traffic to your website or blog, you can add a recruitment link there.


Another great and low cost way to recruit testers is to post on Twitter or Facebook. You can send them through to a form to sign up to test your new product or feature.

Ask friends

Calling up a friend or family member will get you a few participants. Be mindful that you may get biased results using your friends as participants. Often friends and family don’t want to hurt your feelings by giving you negative feedback.


Depending on your target demographic, sometimes your best bet might be to go to where they are. This is especially true if the kind of person you’re looking for is quite niche. For example, say you’re looking for people who buy model airplanes. You may find that standing in front of a hobby shop and offering a voucher for their time gets you the people you need!


If you’re low on time or have a tight budget, Askable is your best bet. Askable has thousands of participants in the database. You can book online in a few clicks. Askable will take care of the recruitment, scheduling and incentive payments.

Screening user testing participants

It’s super important to screen the people who are offering to help test your product. You need to make sure that there aren’t any conflicts of interest. You also want to make sure that these people will actually follow through and show up when you need them to! The last thing you want is to have to deal with no-shows and last minute cancellations. Especially if you’re running on a tight schedule.

Often times it’s also not practical to ask people to give you little detail about themselves up front. In this case, you might want to keep your initial recruitment form on your website or ads broad to begin with. Then filter out the people you want with a follow up screening questionnaire later. (You also don’t want to overwhelm people by asking them to fill out huge 20 page questionnaires in one go).

If you’d prefer to have all this taken care for you, Askable handles all your screening steps too. You can even get suggestions the right participants based on how likely they are to show up on time. Click here to find out more about Askable.

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