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Compassion in Dying provides online help to people looking for information about the end of life.

Use this Guide if you’d like to recruit people who visit your website to help you. Very useful for usability testing or content testing. Sometimes useful for user interviews. It uses specialist research software but also mentions other options.

Steps to finding research participants from your website visitors

This is called website intercept testing. It can be a useful way to find research participants if:

  • your website has plenty of visitors

  • you don't have a more personal way of reaching your website visitors. For example, they are not also users of your face to face services.

  • you want to find out about who is visiting your website

  • your research is about how people use your website

  • your research is about convincing website visitors to use your your other services.

If you have very high visitor numbers you can even recruit participants who visit particular pages or sections of your website.

Compassion in Dying help people through the information they provide on their website. As part of the process of designing and writing new content, they test it. They want to check that the information they provide is clear, accessible and meets the needs of website visitors.

They use website intercepts to recruit participants and invite them to testing activities. They also sometimes use it to do immediate testing, as soon as the person says yes to the invitation.

You can use different types of tools. The main options are:

  • a specialist research tool like the one in this recipe

  • an analytics tool, that also has options for pop-up questions

  • a pop-up built by your own web developers, linked to a form.

You usually need a small amount of developer support. The tools provide you with pieces of code that must be added to your website’s code or via your analytics software.

The tool popup shows a £30 incentive and a button to click to take part

Compassion in Dying chose Ethnio because it is designed for research. It comes set up with the types of questions you usually need to ask potential participants. You can arrange for it to run on specific pages or across many. This means you have more control on what the people you approach are looking at. It also promises to be GDPR compliant in how it manages the data it collects.

When people complete the pop-up, they are giving you consent to contact them. You also need to get consent for your whole research process. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • making sure participants understand the purpose of the research

  • finding out if they are comfortable being recorded

  • making sure they understand how any personal data will be stored.

Do this as part of booking your interview or testing sessions. You don’t have to use specialist software, but you might find that it makes it easier.

Find more on getting consent for user research in this NCVO article.

Annotated consent kit dashboard with some of the key features

Compassion in Dying uses Consent Kit. It was designed by a user researcher. It has templates which you can adapt. It allows participants to choose from options, rather than give blanket consent to everything you might want them to do. It also automates some tasks, such as checking whether the participant has replied and sending reminders. It stores data securely.

It is good practice to offer incentives to your research participants. This is particularly true if your researchers are paid. When you design your intercept pop-up it should be clear about what incentives you can offer. This could be cash payment, vouchers, charitable donations or even skill-sharing.

Compassion in Dying found that because Ethnio is a US based tool, it wasn’t so good at offering incentives in the UK. It does now provide a system for paying incentives in any country if you are paying money. However its vouchers and charities are US centric.

You need to know:

  • Who you want to research with (target group)

  • What pages they are most likely to visit

  • When a developer or your web team can make your intercept tools live

  • A target number of people to recruit - make sure this is much higher than the number you want to research with as people will drop out

When you first start this kind of testing it can be hard to know how many sign ups you are likely to get per day so you may need to leave extra time. Once you have done website intercepts a few times, you’ll have a better idea of how to predict sign ups from your website visitors.

Compassion in Dying often do research before a design sprint (when designers work on new ideas for their site). They work backwards from the date the designers will need the research reports. This helps them decide when the pop-up intercept needs to go live.

Run your pop-up intercept for a period. Review your sign-ups. Select participants that meet your target group needs. Then select for diversity within that target group.

Invite your participants, including a way for them to give consent. Set up a way to track their responses and send reminders.

When Compassion in Dying want to research with 5 people they usually run pop-ups for about 2 weeks. They usually have about 6200 visitors to their pages in that time and expect about 0.52% to sign up.

Compassion in Dying choose people to take part from their Ethnio sign ups. Then they manually transfer these people to Consent Kit. It’s a bit frustrating to use two tools, but it works well.

Then they use Consent Kit’s templates and set it to send out emails and track replies. The automated emails hide the sender’s email address, so there is a risk that some participants might think they are spam. Compassion in Dying have found the automation still saves time even though they sometimes have to manually check emails have been received.

Check your Consent Kit email replies so you know what each of your participants has agreed to. Make sure you plan and deliver great research that supports the choices they made. Here are some places to start:

For user research: try Catalyst’s collection of user research resources or NCVO's introduction.

For content testing: take a deep dive into all the possibilities in this blog.

For usability testing: start with Norman Nielsen's Usability Testing 101

Further information

We don't have a contact for this Guide.

For more help on recruiting people try Catalyst's resource: User research: how to recruit participants