UX Recruitment | How to Recruit Users for Usability Testing

Before we start looking at how we recruit for users for usability testing it is important to clarify what we understand with the term UX design, it is the process of designing products, either in digital or physical form which is useful to users, with ease of use and positive interaction. The aim is to enhance the user’s experience and to provide value to the user while fulfilling the user’s needs. Ultimately this will enhance brand and product loyalty amongst users. The term UX or “User Experience “was first coined by Donald Norman, professor and researcher in design and usability to cover all the different aspects of the user’s experience with the product and its design.

In UX design it is very important to be able to establish whether the design achieved the aims as stated above and if not how it can be changed to achieve it. Generally, designers make use of Usability Testing to test whether the design will achieve their design purposes and aims amongst its targeted users. Usability testing must be done in every stage of the design process and it is important to remember that in contrast with market research, the user is not being evaluated but the design.


The question that pops up is when to start recruitment for user testing. Many start-up businesses find it hard to find users and raise that as a reason why they find testing their designs difficult. The best is to start the recruitment of users as soon as possible even if your design is not completed. It is also important to formulate clearly what you want to test in your design and what your potential user group/focus group can look like. Discuss the possible questions amongst yourselves.

Who must be recruited?

To ensure effective UX research, participants must be recruited that represents as closely as possible the eventual users of the designed product. There can be a variety of possible users and groups for the product, which makes it important to ensure that you identify as accurately as possible the different users and their characteristics. You will then have to recruit as wide a range of users as possible to make provision for the differences as identified.


The identification of the criteria that will be used to identify the possible participants in the ux testing is one of the most important aspects. Participants must be able to provide feedback that is relevant to the project. This requires clear thinking to balance the criteria with the product that are being tested. The usage of the product will determine the number and different criteria which will be used to ensure that the right participants are recruited. Criteria can include general aspects like age, experience, location with projects testing products that are used widely, certain products with a narrow envisaged use will require more specific criteria for users to be established.

The number of participants that must be recruited will depend on the type of testing that is envisaged and the stage of development of the design. Once you have decided on the criteria and the number of users to be recruited it is important to do a screening of the applicants after they have completed a screening questionnaire.

How to Recruit

Participants can be recruited using a recruitment agency which will recruit and screen participants based on the criteria provided to them. It is an efficient but costly method. The other option if funds are limited is to follow the DIY method and recruit the participants yourself. Important to remember is to ensure that you recruit persons that won’t be biased like employees, friends or family. Social media or interest groups can be a good source to recruit participants.

A great idea to improve your UX knowledge and to stay abreast of happenings, is to attend the annual UX Australia conference and workshops with speakers from all corners of the globe. The venue rotates annually between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.