UX Bristol 2018, as always, had a collaborative and inclusive feel; there were three tracks of workshops and the emphasis was on participation.

Ahead of the conference at the M Shed, the team behind the event sent out a survey to ticket holders to understand which workshops would be the most popular, so they knew in advance how to organise the sessions. I chose workshops that would have the most relevance to user recruitment.

The first session of the day was ‘Interviewing Users’ with Adrian Howard, as our screening process at People for Research requires many different skills used when interviewing. Initially we were asked to get into groups of three, preferably with people we didn’t know. We took it in turns to be the speaker, the interviewer, and the observer, and took instructions from Adrian on what to talk about and how to ask questions so we could test out three different theories.

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Adrian Howard shared interviewing skills.

The session was aimed at showcasing certain key skills and behaviours such as the ability to summarise and reflect back, as well as the art of listening – not just waiting for the other person to finish speaking so you can ask your next question. The workshop also opened up into a really useful conversation about consent and ethics of how to handle certain situations that may arise.

It made me consider our aim for transparency at PFR when promoting research opportunities. This is not just important for the people who want to participate so they know what they are putting themselves forward for, but it’s also relevant for the person who will be conducting the research, so they are not put in a position where they have to interview someone who was not briefed properly on what to expect (for example, informed that the session would be filmed).

Adrian has a huge amount of experience and shared some excellent stories which helped give context and validity to his advice – I was reminded of Steve Portigal’s talk and book on user research war stories.

ResearchOps and data protection

Another UX Bristol 2018 workshop that would have linked in well to this was ‘Pssst! Silence: a great collaborator’ by Ajara Pfannenschmidt. I spoke with a couple of people in the coffee break who had been in this workshop and they were buzzing about the experience or what is possible when completely silent.

I chose instead to attend a workshop on stuff you collect about users with Kate Towsey, who is behind the conversation around the topic ‘should we operationalise research?’. This workshop required participants to map where ‘stuff’ such as data, photographs, videos, consent forms go, to visually track just how many places we use to store information.

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Kate Towsey talked about operationalising user research.

This workshop showed just how impossible it is to keep things in just one place and avoid duplication. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has forced us to consider how we can reduce risk when handling data. At People for Research, we have, of course, put certain policies in place to ensure compliance and there is more information on our blog about making user recruitment GDPR compliant. The workshop, however, presented an excellent opportunity to help consider what might be missed when capturing data.

Chi Chui Tan ran a workshop at UCD Bristol, the monthly meetup I help to organise, but I missed it as I was in London running a workshop on user recruitment at User Research London with our Digital Marketing Manager Maria Santos, so I was really pleased to attend her workshop on designing for global audiences at UX Bristol 2018.

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Chui Chui Tan talked about designing for global audiences.

Chui Chui’s essential tips included:

   Translation isn’t the same as localisation.

  Don’t make decisions based solely on market research or assumptions.

  Be open-minded and curious.

These tips are also useful for considering the best way of being inclusive when recruiting global audiences who live in the UK. We have a very diverse user database and working with a range of clients that include government departments means that we are often asked to recruit non-UK nationals living in the country.

The final workshop I attended was by Emma Howell from cxpartners and focused on bias in user research. This is a subject I am very interested in, as I am highly aware of the limitations our bias might put on user recruitment. Using an external user recruiter can remove some of the bias that comes from being heavily involved in the development of a new product or service, but there is still work to be done on how to further reduce implicit bias that we are all subject to.

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Emma Howell talked about bias in user research.

Emma’s workshop linked nicely in to the lighting talk I gave on assumptions and implicit bias in user recruitment, the same lightning talk I gave at UX in the City. We are already looking forward to next year’s UX Bristol!



jess lewesIf you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user testing or market research get in touch on 0117 921 0008 or

At People for Research, we recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner up with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.