Why we should talk to the users

To explore and get deeper understanding of your users’ problems and needs in order to improve your product. People and their mental models, their activities, the context of use of your product/service and unexpected relations among them.

Diagram - Why to do regular user research
Do informed design and Reduce risk

What else should you get from interviews

  • Empathy & Personal Interaction 
  • Capturing Non-Verbal Cues
  • Experiencing “Products” in Real Life
  • Helps stakeholders to decide
  • Reduce costs of development – it‘s expensive not to do it
  • Involving users means easier adoption and lowering their resistance to change

Who to talk to

Once you have defined your research questions, you can start recruiting participants.

The participants sample in your study should rather be various than robust.

Consider these characteristics:

  • Roles
  • User vs. Non-users
  • Experienced vs. Novice (Company vs. Usage of Tools)
  • Frequent vs. rare usage
  • Diversity (gender, ethnicity, other background)
  • Your product specific problems
  • Data from analytics, surveys, marketing segmentation,…

How many participants?

In ideal conditions, you can finish the interviews once you will start getting repeating answers.

How to treat participants in your study

Make them feel comfortable and explain them the purpose of the study. Manage their expectations. Prepare participants even for naive questions. Before the session starts, ask them if you can make a audio/video record (come in handy when you will write the report). Inform what happens with their data and who else is watching the interview – confidentiality.

What and how to ask during interview

  • First of all keep in mind that user interview is not about answering questions but about the whole conversation – sharing experiences, stories, frustrations and opinions.
  • Avoid closed-ended questions which can be answered by a simple Yes/No e.g.: While commuting, do you take a bus?. Instead use open-ended questions and even stories: Tell me how do you get to work.
  • Avoid leading questions e.g.: Do you have problems with your parents? Instead use: What is your relationship with your parents?
  • Reveal stories. Ask about last experience, those are more accurate than when you talk about the future – avoid projection bias.
  • Try to overcome socially desirable answers e.g.: How often do you go to gym?
  • Step outside of your perspective e.g.: Instead of asking: What can be improved about this tool? Ask rather: What advice would you give to a new colleague once using this for a first time?
  • Find workarounds to existing problems
  • If the conversation goes sideways, get participant gently back on track.

How to take notes

You, or preferably someone from the team should be in a role of notetaker and write down what the participants said during interview

Inspire yourself in the table below:

Participant 1Participant 2
Background34 years old, Business Analyst

Question 1

Question 2

Related techniques:

Categories: User Research

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