Study introduction (best practices)

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What is a study introduction?

A participant introduction is a very important part of each study. It's a message that you show to the user before asking them to do the actual task, whether it is completing a Survey, Card Sorting or Web Testing task. It is especially important for the first-time participants.

What should a good study introduction include?

There are 5 key pieces of information that the recipient should know before taking part in the study:

the author of the study, the purpose of the study,how much time it will take to complete, whether (and how) they're going to be recompensed, how they can contact the author. Make sure you include them in your introduction.

An example

A proper survey introduction:

Thank you for taking time to fill out this survey by ACME Inc. We're conducting it to get to know more about your shopping preferences. It shouldn't take longer than 5 to 8 minutes of your time.

All your answers will be kept anonymous and confidential at all times. Answers to questions marked with an asterisk * are required to complete the survey. Please navigate the survey by clicking the buttons at the bottom of each page.

If you have any questions, please contact us at contact@example.com or call +1234567890.

Let's begin! Remember to personalize the underlined parts of this copy. Make sure the introduction really suits your study - you may customize it, depending of the type and nature of your study.

General tips to creating a successful study

Here are some tips to creating a successful study in general:

1. Understand the task. Deeply. You yourself have to be able to complete the task. If you can do it without any problems at first attempt, your users will probably be able too. Understand why are you asking the questions and what are you expecting to get form them. Think about the outcome already at the beginning.

2. Divide your task into steps. Then describe them. Think of a logical order of questions or tasks. (What should be done first? Then what? What at the very end?). Try to make as little steps (or questions) as you can. If necessary, divide the study into meaningful steps. Give the steps meaningful headers - they should in one sentence describe what to expect in them.

3. Use proper language. Write in a clear, succinct manner- make it easy to read and understandable for first-time readers. Use common language - avoid sophisticated or domain-specific words and expressions. Use action verbs (like "choose", "click", "read", "use", "write", etc.) at the beginnings of sentences. Avoid words that have more than one meaning. Do not include multiple things to do in one step, task or question. Avoid negations - instead of writing "do not forget to add salt" say "add salt". Make sure the participant always knows what to do next.

4. Include warnings Any precautions, warnings or dangers of the study should be included. If something critical has to be done (or not to be done) before something else - make it a separate step.

5. Avoid expressing preferences, choices and opinions. Questions and instructions have to be actionable - they just need to describe what to do to complete a task. They must not convey any options nor suggestions.

6. Test your instruction Give it to someone else without any additional information. Check if the person is able to complete the tasks without problems or confusion. If not, try to find out where the problem is and fix it.

Happy and successful testing and researching!