Incentives for Participants in UX Research

When recruiting participants for years of research, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made before you begin drafting your screener. You should know who your target users are and figure out an appropriate incentive. There are two types of incentives. Monetary and non-monetary monetary incentives come in various forms like cash checks or gift cards. Non-monetary incentives may include things like a meal, maybe premium corporate merchandise or tickets to a game. We should offer monetary incentives to participants that would otherwise be paid for their time. For example, if you’re running a study any time Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 5:00, there’s a good chance your participant took time off work to participate in your research. So compensate them accordingly.

However, when recruiting participants don’t overemphasize the incentive because it might motivate people to exaggerate their qualifications when they’re answering the screener questions, as you consider how much of a monetary incentive to offer. Here are four things to keep in mind. First, the job category of your target audience. If you’re a target users consist of students, you can likely compensate them less than you would say. A group of lawyers testing a law firm website. Second study location, for example. You should expect to pay higher incentives in a state like California compared to Montana. Third session lengths are your sessions, 20 minutes or two hours. Session length and incentive shouldn’t always be linearly proportional. And that’s where task complexity plays a role. So fourth, task complexity. If your participants are testing complex health care systems compared to signing up for a newsletter, they should be compensated differently. If you’re testing a product with internal employees who are already being compensated for their time, non-monetary gifts are an appropriate choice.

When we’re using non-monetary incentives, be sure to be imaginative. If you’re conducting research on an e-commerce site, perhaps one of your tasks could include the participant actually ordering something they want from the site. As always, consider your audience. If you’re testing with an unfamiliar audience like elementary school children, you should check with teachers to find out what an appropriate incentive might look like. Whether you choose monetary or non-monetary incentives, be sure to do two things. First, be as generous as your budget allows. The better the incentive, the easier it is to get users to participate. No shows are very expensive. Imagine you’ve rented a test location and you’re just sitting there possibly with several stakeholders and the user doesn’t show because you paid too little. This mistake can be very costly. Second, remember to thank them. People like to hear that they’re appreciated and our participants deserve verbal recognition for their time.

Remember to thoughtfully determine participant incentives to ensure the best user research study.

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