Alzheimer's Society

Recruiting testers for design sprints with PingPong

John Dickens, UX Researcher @ Alzheimer's Society


The UX team at Alzheimer's was approached by Dementia Friends with a specific converison problem they were facing.

Dementia Friends is a hugely successful campaign within Alzheimer’s Society with 2.8 million signed up people over 6 years. By becoming a Dementia Friend, you become equipped with enough knowledge to offer help and support to those living with dementia.

The sign-up can be either done in real-life face-to-face sessions or online through a registration form. The problem they wanted to solve was around this registration form because they were seeing huge drop-offs at certain points in the sign-up flow. They wanted to investigate and improve conversion rates.

Although we are non-profit, we do have growth targets.

Even with millions registered, increasing the signups further requires good performing funnels.

The Dementia Friends team came to us initially with a problem that the registration form was ineffective. And they had a suspicion that sign-ups were stalling because of this. We looked at it and thought, “yes, you're probably right”. There were lots of issues that we saw based on doing a simple UX audit.

Their first reaction was to make some minor design suggestions based on what they thought could work, before running some tests on a prototype. Instead of jumping right in, the UX team set up HotJar on Dementia Friends website to understand what’s going on.

We found that our assumptions were much worse than we initially anticipated. Despite the fact that there are a massive amount of people signing up, only 8% of those who start the sign up manage to complete the registration, and only 60% get past the first step, which is pretty bad. This is especially poor compared to the rates we see across the rest of the sign-ups on the Alzheimer’s Society site.

This registration form had a lot of barriers for people. The UX team realised they needed to have a process behind this rather than going straight ahead with a redesign. They had to step back and think about what their users are trying to do and how they can help them.

This was a great opportunity to organise a design sprint.

A 5 day, dedicated UX sprint has never really been done internally at the Society, and it’s something I had thought about introducing for a while. We realised that for this particular project, this approach was the best way forward.

They set up an introductory meeting before the sprint to get the buy-in from the sprint participants. The key hook was the speed of the sprint. Getting so much done within such a little time did sound exciting for the design sprint members.

Unfamiliar with Design Sprints? Read more here:

The participants included John as a facilitator and his colleague in the UX team who was supporting. The rest of the design sprint participants were from the product team, digital engagement executives and IT. A total of 6 people participated in the long week sprint.

By the end of the 4th day, they created a digital prototype in InVision. The team was ready to move to the validation phase to see real user feedback on the prototype.

Recruiting testing participants for the design sprint

John had effectively used PingPong for smaller-scale projects in the past at Alzheimer’s Society, and saw it as ideal for use in a design sprint.

They booked space to conduct the interviews and booked a separate observation room for the wider sprint team. John and his colleague moderated the interviews speaking directly to testers with a laptop. Throughout that whole process in the observation room, people were taking notes and doing affinity mapping.

One of the main things that impressed us the most was the speed at which we got participants to sign up for our research. I remember using PingPong for the first time, setting up a project and within maybe five minutes it was all set up. And that was incredible. It's perfect for sprints, which even if you don't know exactly how you're going to be doing your usability testing or whatever until the day before, it would be safe to say that you can rely on PingPong to fill out those spots.

Between each user test they integrated their research insight into the prototype by making minor changes based on feedback between sessions. The changes were made on Sketch, and then re-uploaded to Invision to be tested again. This allowed them to work with super quick feedback circles and improve rapidly based on real user feedback.

We have had occasions where participants have cancelled on the day, sometimes even an hour before their scheduled session. This happens, research is messy! Thankfully, PingPong automatically brought replacements in to fill those gaps. We also had a few people from the sprint team who couldn't make the last day. We sent them the recordings and transcripts and everything from PingPong.

The outcome

The 5-day sprint went well and the UX team were conscious of getting feedback from the team. They designed and sent a survey on the last day to all the people who participated.

The feedback from the survey was pretty good, but because it was the first time we’ve run a sprint at the Society, it wasn't going to be perfect. It’s very much like any design work, it's never finished. It's iterative. So next time we do this we're able to improve.

Alzheimer's Society team has moved on with the implementation and we'll update the case study with the results.

About John Dickens

John joined Alzheimer’s Society in 2018 as a UX Researcher after completing a 3 month UX course at General Assembly. He was introduced to UX during his Master’s degree in Visual Sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London, where he found a crossover between the work of a sociologist and that of a UX researcher.

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London, UK


Alzheimer's Society is a United Kingdom support and research charity for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We believe passionately that life doesn't end when dementia begins. We are here for anyone affected by dementia, and we do everything we can to keep people with dementia connected to their lives and the people who matter most.

The Dementia Friends campaign is a global initiative to change people's perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the we think, act and talk about the condition.

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Customer service is incredible, a five-star service/support - they are superstars! I was able to find participants all over the world that will definitely make an impact on our product.

Irene Cazaux

UX Designer