This week, we learned about what it takes to effectively find the right people to use as test participants. There are two primary parts to this activity, first is filtering down to the right participants. This means asking the right questions and really setting the stage for the people answering the questions so they understand you don't just want anybody. The screening process is very similar to what you might see in a market research group hoping to gain some insight through surverys. For us, qe emphasized is on user type instead of demographics, meaning if you want to test new users, then you find new users as opposed to young users or male users.
Next up is giving users the right tasks. In this case, the goal is to give task the represent real life scenarios for the user. Sometimes it even makes sense to create a back story for the particpant so they can get "into character". Obviously this become more of an issue when you dealing with products and customers, however in my world, most of the applications I help develop are for internal users, who are generally already prepped to be test subjects when the time comes.