Five tips to recruit for international usability testing
by Emma Peters, UX Consultant
This year has seen the Experience UX team undertake an abundance of overseas user research. There’s much to be gained from international user research. We’ve spoken to participants across five continents!

These research projects have required us to completing remote usability testing on English language websites, with English-fluent participants, whilst being tested locally. In order to speak to these respondents, we used a hybrid approach of utilising our third-party recruitment partner, and recruiting directly from our clients’ websites.

Whilst we gained a great deal of insight from the research, we also gained a whole heap of learnings from the recruitment. Here are our top five tips for effective and efficient moderated remote international usability testing:

1. Complete a pre-test tech check

This 5-minute Zoom call with each participant in advance of the research irons out any hiccups, resulting in a smooth and stress-free test day! The point is to ensure that each participant has a working mic and camera; Zoom installed, and that they can use it to share their screen. We check that they are on the right device for the test and if there are any other technical issues, we need to be aware of. I email participants a link to Calendly to enable them to choose and confirm a time that works for them, which syncs straight to my Outlook and Zoom.

This counts for remote usability testing both at home and abroad!

2. Be aware of the value of incentives and cost of recruitment

Specifically, Switzerland! You can expect upwards of a one-third hike in recruitment fees and incentives when testing with the time-valuing Swiss, so keep this in mind when budgeting.

At the other end of the scale, be aware that the worth of a £60-100 incentive can have much greater value in some countries which can have an impact on people trying to qualify to take part. Use local advice to gauge what is a culturally appropriate value.

3. Ensure recruiters’ data compliance

English speaking countries provided their own consent forms. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but what is important is to check is that the recruiter is GDPR-compliant and that their data protection policies and storage systems are robust. Be sure to clarify who is the data controller and processor. Ensure that video test footage can be stored and processed by yourself, and shared with your client. Some local recruiters will request consent forms to be translated, which adds to the cost. Be clear on the incentives process for each party, who is paying what; when and how.

4. Be aware of office hours in differing time-zones

Working across international time zones, inevitably, you’ll find that you are working to different office hours to that of your participants or recruiter. A bit of flexibility and time zone hopping is required to make it work for all parties. We also realised the importance to have someone from the local recruitment team on-hand outside of their normal office hours.

5. Overrecruit by two participants per day

It’s standard practice for Experience UX to overrecruit for testing at home or abroad; in-person or remote. This allows for any no-shows and participants who, despite careful screening, aren’t quite right. When we recruit in the UK, we typically recruit one extra participant per day. Our experience of international recruitment has shown that there’s a higher likelihood of no-shows or participants who don’t quite meet the recruitment brief. So, we recommend recruiting an extra two per day.

International remote usability testing can provide you with fascinating insights and game-changing recommendations. It’s an essential part of UX research for organisations with international-reaching products and services.
UX Consultant Matt Fisher

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