User Testing sessions are only as good as the users you're testing; if they don't show up at the right time, or worse still, if they don't show up at all, this can have real time and cost implications. While we don't have a foolproof plan to guarantee your participants will show up, there are a few techniques you can use to reduce no-shows.
Add to calendar
On your registration confirmation page, include an add to calendar link. Participants can then add this event to their personal calendars so that they are alerted in advance of the session. Some recruitment software has this functionality built in, but if not, you can always do this manually via an add to calendar button, or with email using Google Calendar, Outlook or a simple iCal creation app like this one.
Send a reminder
As simple as it may sound, sending a reminder to your research participants prior to the session outlining the objectives of the research, the exact location of the venue, and your contact details can reduce no-shows.
The easiest way to do this is via email. You can include links back to any online documentation about the research and provide directions via Google Maps. You can even take photographs of the journey to the testing room if this makes it easier for your participants to find!
According to the Theory of Planned Behaviour, having this information can maximise participants' feeling of self control (e.g. "I can drive there easily", "I know who to contact if I got lost"), which in turn increases their likelihood to show up.
The degree to which you can do this will vary depending on your circumstances, but offering participants something in exchange for their time will often help improve attendance rates. Think about what would be valuable to your particular audience. Is it financial reward? Recognition for their participation? Or depending on your circumstances, perhaps taking part in user research can be built into a person's job or study responsibilities, as is often the case at universities.
While this advice doesn't guarantee that your participants will actually show up for a testing session, it should help to minimise the no-shows. Ultimately, the key take away is to make it as easy as possible for your participants to take part. Good luck!
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