Conducting a usability test requires skill. As user experience professional you have to understand how to recruit users, organize the test, run the sessions, analyze the results and make recommendations.The results of your test will be used to impact the design of the product and will be reviewed by many stakeholders that have varying interests. A cake will only taste as good as the ingredients. The same analogy can be applied to a usability test in which the quality of participants can determine how well the results will be. You need to insure the integrity of your test. So how do you recruit quality users? You do it yourself. Intercepting users from your website for usability tests is the best option because they represent your audience while asking co-workers, family or friends is less than desirable because they are farther from your audience.
Methods of conducting your own usability participant recruiting:
1) Ask co-workers, family or friends
2) Connect with customers of your product
3) Intercept visitors to your website (Sites like Ehtnio do a great job to survey and screen users)
If you recruit your own, then you can find quality participants and have them at be at your beckon call when a usability study comes up. It will also allow you to get more out of them to participate because you want help someone more when you like them or you are a fan of their product. Your users will understand the goals related to your app, software or site. They are not trying to pretend or step into another persona. In the end if you recruit your own users, you get more responses in a shorter time and your study will produce more valid and reliable data. Do you have any other resources you would recommend outside of Ehtnio to conduct your own usability participant recruiting?