If you're an in-house UX Designer/Design Researcher you might not have the budget to use a recruiting firm to handle the management of your user engagement recruitment. This post describes how a simple spreadsheet schedule, created in Google Spreadsheets, can assist in managing ongoing user engagement activities, helping you keep track of who has been engaged and who should be engaged with next.
When I moved from an agency to an in-house design research position, I had to shift my thinking towards user engagement planning. In an agency, we often dealt with a single user engagement activity, maybe recruiting users for a workshop, interview or usability testing session. We had the luxury of using a recruitment firm which took a lot of the pain out of the process. Once the final report or design had been handed over to the client, we moved on to the next job, we didn't have an ongoing record of which users we had talked to or how we had involved them, that data remained locked up with the recruitment firm.
When I started defining the workflow for design research at my new position, I knew we wouldn't have the luxury of a recruitment firm. Our users would be recruited from our current clients' organisations, and as the research lead I would probably come to know each of them quite well over the course of the project's development. I anticipated we would need users for research interviews, observation, usability testing and workshops. As activities such as usability testing would be carried out each sprint, I was cautious of relying on the same few users again and again for participation as we weren't offering monetary compensation.
The Engagement Schedule
I started recording user details for recruitment in a Google Spreadsheet. I would record role, gender, city, contact information, organisation type, organisation name, etc. This let me balance out some of the demographic attributes when recruiting participants for research activities. E.g. Balancing public and private sector participants.
Recently I have extended the spreadsheet with an additional tab that allows the author to record an instance of user engagement against a user recorded in the 'users' list. The author selects a user from a drop down (which is populated using the name column in the 'users' worksheet) the relevant demographic information is then populated using a VLOOKUP function and then the author fills in information about the engagement instance: date of engagement, purpose, time spent with user and the location of the engagement.
Keeping a record of user engagement provides the following benefits: