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How Nile Streamlined a Diverse and Inclusive Research Recruitment Strategy With Consent Kit


“It’s all very well being an inclusive design practice — but if your participant journey is not inclusive, you’re actively excluding. Consent Kit is key to making sure our participant management processes are as inclusive as possible.”

Picture of Victoria Johnston
Victoria Johnston
Design Ops Manager, Nile
Private sector
Edinburgh, UK


Making accessibility the standard

Strategic design consultancy Nile had set a diverse and inclusive standard for recruitment of research participants — but when the company went remote along with the rest of the world during the pandemic, they immediately saw a gap.

The process of gathering consent from participants of a research study is multi-step, and with Nile’s existing tools, some of those steps were not only unnecessarily complex, they were also not accessible for every participant.

As Victoria Johnston, Design Operations Manager at Nile puts it:

Engaging appropriately with people who are disadvantaged is core to our work. This is underpinned by making sure that our participant management processes are as inclusive as possible.

As Nile’s team grew and the company scaled to issuing 600 consents a year, they needed to ensure that their recruiting process was fully accessible and standardise their approach. Using a popular electronic signature app as their primary tool was no longer feasible. While that solution was designed to make signing contracts easier, the Nile team found that for issuing consent, it was laborious, unintuitive, and unreliable — and resulted in a whopping 34 touchpoints for 10 participants.

Most importantly to Nile, however, the electronic signature app wasn’t compatible with screen readers. Victoria says:

In becoming a remote-first research practice, we suddenly had a much broader spectrum of participants. We could engage with people who had either vision or physical disabilities — and it was a bit of a shock when I discovered we weren’t being inclusive.

On top of the added administrative work and the obvious inclusivity challenge with the electronic signature app, purging participant data at the end of the retention period was a manual process that left too much room for error.

This led Nile straight to Consent Kit.

With Consent Kit, we can make everything much clearer and human-focused.

“Engaging appropriately with people who are disadvantaged is core to our work.”


Streamlined consent process with accessibility and security baked in

Nile partnered with Consent Kit to make the process of managing participants easier on the Nile team, and to create a dramatically improved end-user experience for participants.

Nile found that Consent Kit was more flexible than their previous electronic signature app, and they could use templates to streamline participant management. Victoria says,

Consent Kit has allowed us to optimise our wording to be as succinct and clear as possible for every participant, rather than being too abstract.

The end result of this clearer language was that participants better understood the consent they were signing. And because all data management and participant communications were integrated with Consent Kit, the whole participant management process was simplified for Nile.

Victoria frequently tells people how simple and easy-to-use Consent Kit is.

The experience for both the person managing it and the end user is just better and less piecemeal. You set it up and it starts to run itself, and the pay-off is giant.

Now, with Consent Kit, accessibility is never an issue. All user interactions are screen reader compatible in simple language. The participant can also come back and amend their consent — something that was much more complex with the previous electronic signature app. Victoria explains,

People are far more informed about what they are doing. There’s a lot more simplification in the user experience.

Previously, project teams would have to find a template on Google Drive, complete the template, get it set up, send it out with [the electronic signature app] — and there might be errors in the content. The templates that we’ve set up in Consent Kit are so explicit around the intention of the research and the retention of information.

With Consent Kit, security and governance are no longer issues for Nile, either. Victoria feels safer knowing that…

  • There’s an audit trail. The Nile team can see who’s logged in, and who’s doing what.
  • Participant communication within Consent Kit is far more secure than email, with less scope for error or accidentally divulging information to the wrong person.
  • Consent Kit automates the deletion of consent forms after a set period of time, so Nile much more easily maintains their data governance standards.

It was a very manual process to go through every month to identify every consent, delete it, and keep a record of the purging. The fact that Consent Kit does this automatically is wonderful.

“The experience for both the person managing it and the end user is just better and less piecemeal.”


71% decrease in number of touch-points for consent

Victoria remarks how Nile took the number of touch-points for issuing consent to eight participants from 34 to 10 or fewer.

With one person administering consent, that dropped the volume of work by over a third, so we can increase our consent turnover by an additional two-thirds. It’s really changed the way we do things.

Nile now has more surety in what they’re doing, and their process is smoother. They reduced the time to consent from 90 minutes to less than 40 minutes.

And checking on the status of consent no longer requires chasing down information — it’s just a matter of a few clicks.

We have more time to take on other initiatives and improve on projects. To have 50% of our time back means we can embed ourselves in other activities to support the teams and delivery.

We’re far more engaged with our delivery team, because we’re not just spending the time doing the consents in the background.

But what’s most important to the strategic design consultancy is that they are being more inclusive, and they can confidently stand by their diverse recruitment standard.

We are walking our talk — not just saying we’re more inclusive, but knowing that we genuinely are.

We can say with great conviction that we are a fully inclusive design practice, and that’s given us so much fodder to move forward and be more vocal about that within the design community. We’ve gone from just practicing inclusivity to leading it as well, and then inspiring others to do the same.

And Consent Kit helps Nile protect the data of their diverse participants automatically. Victoria remarks that the platform is so on the rails, there’s little margin for error. And when it comes time to purge data at the end of the retention period, it happens automatically.

It’s really clear to see,” Victoria says. “The dashboard helps us manage it all in a single space, rather than trying to chase down every single individual piece of paperwork. It’s one of the biggest benefits.

For Nile, partnering with Consent Kit has made participant management easier on everyone. And that has a far-reaching impact on what they’re able to accomplish.

We’ve gone from just practicing inclusivity to leading it as well, and then inspiring others to do the same.

Accessible consent forms for clear, simple and inclusive research recruitment.

Book a demo of Consent Kit today.