In South Africa, the UX industry is relatively immature so we don’t have agencies that can recruit for us. The other side of this is that many clients have yet to see the value of user research. They are mostly excited about “User Experience” and that is something that they love to mention in planning meetings. But somehow they haven’t made the connection between research and UX. It almost feels as if most consider it as an extension to design where we contribute to feature ideas, especially of the “surprise and delight” variety.
My past research studies have typically had the corporate client carefully hand selecting participants that they felt would be valuable to the study. In one client’s case they selected only customers that had good things to say about the product previously. I managed to get around this by scouring LinkedIn for the specialist job roles I was looking for and then cold calling them at their place of business. I was able to recruit quite a few users in this way.
One thing that I found was that by doing some user research with some of these specialists I was able to ask them for access to other specialists in their organisation that they felt could contribute. This helped the recruiting effort immensely. I also had a number of participants feeling anxiety that they were just telling me things about their day and not providing big insights that would change the way the system works. I imagine this is quite common in research studies but I thought it was interesting that participants were eager to provide solutions to problems.
Incentives haven’t yet been a big issue, I usually provide a very small token of my appreciation for the participants time (a box of Lindor) but my studies have been small and haven’t had budget allocated to them. I currently work for an agency and I’ve considered using Facebook ads as a way to help target appropriate users. I haven’t tried this yet but if I manage I’ll report the results.