Try Google Docs for survey or recruitment forms

Just a quick note to recommended using Google Docs ‘forms’ as a free tool to manage surveys and recruitment. (Choose New, then Form).

We recently wanted to invite people to participate in user research for the drupal.org redesign project – as a part of this we had a short screener we wanted to run people through so that we can target research appropriately in the coming months (and also get some interesting stats – more on that soon!).

Initially I was planning to use Ethnio, as it is purpose built for this, looks pretty and has a kind of nice DHTML ‘not-popup’. I couldn’t get it working though, so then turned to the ever trusty Survey Monkey, but… eh, so ugly! At the last minute I thought of Google Docs and that’s where we stayed.

Super easy to set up, and a nice clean looking interface out of the box, plus no worries being charged for having too many responses. Easy peasy.

We have since almost 900 responses in a just few days and it seems to have held up nicely.

So, if you are looking for a nice tool to use as a screener or a questionnaire and you’re not too fussed about customising the look and feel, I’d heartily recommend Google Docs.

Disclaimer, disclaimer etc. I’m sure Ethnio works beautifully for lots of people. I tried to get it working for several days without luck and by the time support got back to me, we had hundreds of survey responses to the Google version. I’m also sure you can make Survey Monkey look grand, but I don’t know how and didn’t want to spend the time finding out.

Help shape a new application and earn £40 for just 30 mins of your time

We’re at the early stages of developing an interesting new application and have a few ideas that we’d like some feedback on.

If you have a spare half hour on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday next week (4,5,6 August) and are in or near central London and you’re interested in helping out, read on!

We’re looking for a wide range of people but you need to either be

  1. currently using or planning to use internet on your mobile phone in the next couple of months
  2. fairly social (have some friends, go out and meet said friends fairly regularly).
  3. a little web savvy, but *not* someone who twitters or updates their Facebook status more than once a day. (If you’ve heard of Cuil already, for example, you’re probably not quite the audience, but you probably know someone who is – get them to contact me!)
  4. not working in the internet, mobile/telecoms or travel industries

As ever, you (or the person you dob in) will be rewarded for your efforts to the tune of £40 – for just 30 mins!

See -  we really value your opinion!

email me: [email protected]
or pass this on to likely suspects!

thank you!

Research Participants Required! Are you interested in Culture, Science, History, Art and more?

Are you interested in Culture, Science, History, Art and more? – share your thoughts and earn £60

We’re working on an exciting project with nine major British museums and need some people who are into their culture, art, science, history – basically the kind of stuff you can learn about at museums – to help us with some user research.

Here’s the catch – you can’t just be a *generalist*  – you need to have a particular focus… you could be anything from a fossil collector to a pastel artist, a costume designer or a writer.. You don’t have to be a regular visitor to museums (although, you might be). As long as you think museum collections could help you with your research, your learnings or inspiration for your work, you fit the bill

Does that sound like you? Or one of your mates? Or your dad? We’d love to talk more.

We’re interviewing around central London on 28-29 July. We’ll give you our hearty thanks and £60 for an hour of your time. So, drop us a line if that sounds like you, or spread the word to someone you think might fit the bill.

Much appreciated :)

contact by 25 July: [email protected]

Guerrilla Research – Recruitment

It’s been almost a year now that I’ve been doing predominantly ‘guerrilla’ design research. For me, this means testing in the field with a minimum of time, budget and fuss so that this kind of activity and the insight it provides is available to pretty much any client/budget/timeframe.

One of the first challenges for guerrilla design research is recruitment – the particular objective being to avoid using recruitment companies in order to reduce the cost of the project and also avoid the delay (often up to 2 weeks!) that is typically associated with recruitment.

A common approach to guerrilla recruitment is simply to rock up at a venue where your target audience is likely to congregate and to try to recruit on the spot. Typical venues might be a local Starbucks or a conference.

This is not an approach that I tend to use, for a couple of reasons – primarily because I really have to relinquish a lot of control over who I involve in my research… more than I feel comfortable with, given the responsibility that I have to my clients to provide them with useful insight. Also, sometimes the recruit briefs I need to meet are quite complex and require me to be quite selective when identifying participants. This is quite difficult to do on the fly and face to face… it can lead to either some awkward moments or spending time doing research with people who aren’t really quite right.

The approach that I have been using (and many of you are probably very aware of this!) is to use my online social network using tools such as my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, and FaceBook. I have been pleasantly surprised by how successful this has been – on a number of levels.

Essentially how it works is that I work with my client to define a ‘call for participation’ that will be posted – the objective here is to get people interested in the research, to get more rather than less people to contact us, but hopefully mostly people who are at least close to right for the profile. I have to say, I am quite happy not to have to put together screeners any more (or review screeners received from recruitment companies). In fact… if I never saw another screener again I’d be perfectly happy :)

I do, up to a point, think about what ‘channels’ to use. As a gross generalisation, somewhere like Facebook is better for a less technical participant, where as Twitter is better for a more technically savvy participant… this is a gross generalisation though because more often than not, the people who I end up meeting are not directly in my network, but friends, family, colleagues of people in my network. This is the real power of ‘guerrilla’ recruiting, and a big reason why the ‘channels’ matter much less than having great people in your networks :) (Preferably great people with lots of friends, family and colleagues!)

To date, my experience has been that undertaking recruitment in this way has been cheaper (obviously – I don’t charge myself or my client ‘recruitment’ fees per participant), and faster (rather than weeks, recruits are sometimes filled within hours, definitely days of posting a call for participation). The most pleasant discovery has been that the quality of research participants is significantly higher than I had experienced when using recruitment companies.

In the past 12 months I’ve interviewed dozens of people and only had one ‘no show’ – and that was just a mix up with the dates as opposed to someone who just decided not to show. If you’ve done much research you know that it is not uncommon to have a day of six interviews lined up and only to get four participants to show up.

Some of the recruits I’ve had to fill have been fairly simple, but there have also been some incredibly complex briefs that I have no idea how I would have managed to effectively communicate to a recruitment company.

And the people who do turn up are fabulous – I’ve been amazed at how close to the ‘brief’ almost everyone I’ve met has been. They’ve been interested, enthusiastic, articulate and certainly not ‘professional research participants’ – the bane of any researchers existence!

Of course, you can always just take your design and show it to people in the office, take it home to your own family, show your friends – this can be very valuable. If you’re looking to do some research that is slightly more formalised, then perhaps you could consider using your own online social networks for this purpose.

It has certainly made me value even more the networks that I have in place and thankful for the great people who I interact with in these spaces.

(and, while I’m at it – if you’ve helped me with recruiting in the past year or so – thank you, thank you very much!)