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5 steps to creating a great participant experience

By: Tim Brewster
Date: May, 2016
File under: Articles

We spend a lot of time as UX and CX researchers thinking and talking about how we can help inform design to address peoples’ needs, while creating experiences which delight the customer and leave them wanting more.

What isn’t thought or talked about much, however, is the experience of the people we talk with when undertaking our research, the research participants. This is important as it is the participants who help establish the founding blocks for a great UX design.

So how can we design the ideal participant experience?

Delight the participant from the first interaction

Research is a foreign activity for most people. The first interaction should set expectations with the participant as to what will be required of them on the day of research. It should also not cause them any stress, be honest and transparent and reassure them as to the main reason why the research is being done.

In the event of change, communicate it!

Things change, people understand that. Establishing yourself early on in the process as proactive and communicative; this will create a more harmonious relationship with the participant. Creating a dialogue that extends across both email and phone cold also helps in reducing not only miscommunications and makes them feel like they already know you and your agency.

Reduce screens, devices and ‘things’ in the room

The types of people we recruit for testing sessions aren’t likely to have cords running everywhere. They also aren’t likely to have screens all around their home, with different camera shots of themselves. Minimise the clutter of the room and it will create a more inviting, warm environment.

Consider your participant arriving at the research facility

Before shoving three separate sign-in sheets into the participant’s hands upon arrival, make them feel at home. Give them time to get settled, offer a drink, and last but not least, tell them to help themselves to the bowl of chocolates in front of them.

Be thoughtful during the session

Partaking in a research session is rarely a convenient thing. Often, it’s held before or after a long day of work. Remind the participant how they will be reimbursed for their time then spend some time getting to know them. Let this flow naturally until you feel the participant has warmed up and then the session can the truly begin!

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