Knowing what most of your customers want is a competitive advantage that many businesses would love. A design sprint is a perfect tool to help businesses in this regard. It is a 5-day workshop to design and test a prototype with users, before investing money and time into building a real product or feature.

On the last day, we run a product usability testing. And you need to recruit user testers in advance. The magic number is typically 5 users. A Nielsen-Norman study found that 5 users will uncover 80% of issues in your product. Anything after 5 will give you a diminished return, meaning the costs will outweigh the benefits.

But what happens if you’re short of time to recruit users? Here are a few ideas on how to quickly recruit testers that fit the user persona you are after.

Tip #1: Use an existing database of loyal customers

The simplest and fastest way to quickly recruit the user testers for your design sprint is to use the existing database of your loyal customers. It works especially when you are working on some current product of yours for which you already have users. You can invest some time to make a go-to panel of usability testing participants.

Don’t forget to ask your potential panellists screening questions so that you can zoom in to the different user personas you need. Just make sure you don’t spam them with lots of requests and allow them to opt out if they aren’t interested.

There are pros and cons to this. The advantage is that you’re guaranteed a list of customers. You won’t fall short if you need to do a sprint within a short notice. Using the same people also gives you some continuity because you’re not spending a lot of time training and briefing them. But using the same panel of testers for a long time may give you a narrow range of feedback, which isn’t good for the product.

Tip #2: Use a marketing database of potential users

If you are developing a new product without a user base, then recruiting the participants might be a bit harder. However, there are surely few tried and true ways.

The first is quite simple; approach the places where you can find your target users and get bold. Looking to interact with students? Go to a coffee shop at a local nearby campus with a sign offering to pay for the coffee in exchange for some time.

Moreover, you can dig into your existing marketing database. You can filter through the people who interacted with the brand at least once before and find the gems who make good testers. Some of the people will be a cold lead but there will be warm ones eager to interact with your product.

Tip #3: Recruit from your website visitors

If you want to your design sprint to be a success, you must recruit the right users. To provide an exceptional customer experience, current users are a perfect audience.

Here is where your website can help you. Gauge the personas of your website visitors by looking at your website traffic analysis. The analysis shows details including how many times a visitor visited the website, which page they spent more time on, which action they took and which products they showed interest in or bought.

You can put up a sign-up form on your site or reach out to them personally if you have their contact details.

Tip #4: Callout on social media and community forums

You should never miss embracing the power of social media and community forums to find the right user testers for your design sprint.

With 2.95 billion people globally now on social platforms, it’s one of the fastest and best means to speedily find users who represent your customers. A quick search over Google will provide you tons of info on relevant forums, groups, and societies that you can recruit from.

You can use promoted posts and targeted ads to reach a huge number of people in a fast and cost-effective way. If you have a big following, simply reaching out several times will get you some bites. Posting a link to a form or screening questions on your social media profile is an easy way to reach the target audience. And offering freebies always help.

Tip #5: Recruit friends, colleagues, etc.

I don’t recommend using friends and families as much because there may be hidden biases when it is someone you’re familiar with. But if you’re pressed for time, this will do.

And since you only need 5 users, this is probably the easiest and fastest way. Rope in your friends, colleagues, mentors, and even people who inspire you. They can usually do it on a short notice, which means you can test your hypothesis quickly.

Tip #6: Pay a market research agency

There are reputable market research agencies who will take care of everything from recruitment to the testing day itself. However, be aware of your financial constraints as the actual cost of conducting the user testing might be higher at a later stage of testing. Some agencies may not mention the total cost at the beginning and hand you a surprise bill at the end.

But this is a simpler way by outsourcing recruitment, so you can focus on the design sprint. You’ll get users from different backgrounds, who can give you plenty of insights you may not get if you’re recruiting yourself within a short period.

Alvin Hermanto

Alvin Hermanto

Alvin Hermanto is a design leader who is passionate about practicality, quality, and human-centred design. As founder of award winning digital design agency, Relab, his clients include leading businesses in retail, education, real estate, and hospitality. He has personally grown Relab to be one of Australia’s leading design sprint agencies. You’ll find him speaking at design sprint, business, and educational events. His mission is simple: help others build and launch products faster without compromising quality or sacrificing user satisfaction. He also thrives on mentoring small businesses and startups, getting them to simplify processes, build better businesses and create productive teams.