Should we change the way we recruit participants for Usability Testing?

Today, on my bus journey, I came across a very interesting article from Fabricio Teixeira (founder of UX Collective) on how relevant it is to split participants by gender when conducting user testing.

In this article, Fabricio questions if gender affects the results of usability testing and raises doubts around some of the assumptions that we might have with regards to the way men and women think:

 

“Women are more talkative than men when voicing out their thoughts”

“Men are more bipolar; they either like or dislike a solution”

“Women care more about UI aesthetics”

“Men look, women read”

 

Soruce: http://avmedia.info/blog/human-brain-analysis-man-vs-woman/

 

I never thought about this before and as soon as I read this article, I started to think about my previous user research and to question it.

Considering the projects I worked on, gender has never been a relevant factor so I have used other differentiators such as the area users worked in and their job title/function. However, I also included gender information as well as age even though they weren’t relevant to our findings.

 

Why did I do that?

 

It seems like a piece of information that people expect to see as it is easy to digest. However, is this just feeding our preconceptions and generating unconscious bias in our decisions?

When conducting research and usability testing, using ethnic and demographic information is very common and it’s definitely an easy way to separate data results; sometimes it’s also extremely useful especially if working on products that are extremely dependent on these factors.

I believe that the article raises an interesting argument with regards to recruiting participants so in the future I will think further about the information I need in my research to ensure I am getting the right results. I particularly enjoyed the end of the article so I’ll share it with you!

 

Psychographic over demographic.

Behaviours over gender norms.

Empathy over stereotypes.