A funny thing happens when you interview people—they answer your questions even if they don’t really know the answer. That’s why it’s so important to know what types of questions people can and cannot answer correctly.
There’s a good reason why UX research focuses more on observing people’s behavior in their natural context than on interviews, surveys, and focus groups. Although all of these techniques can be useful, what people say doesn’t always match what they actually do. Observing and interviewing people in the context of their tasks gives you a much more accurate understanding of their characteristics, their tasks, the tools they use, and their environment.
Of course, talking with people is helpful because observation alone often isn’t enough. So almost every user-research method includes some kind of interview or discussion. While observing user-research participants shows you what they do, it also raises questions. Unless you interview participants, too, you’ll have to make assumptions to understand the motivations behind their actions. Talking with people is essential for you to understand their behavior. Read More
The simplest approach to learning about users’ needs and challenges is to talk with them. In this article, I’d like to share with you some of the approaches that I use that lead to successful interviews with users.
Planning and Preparing for Interviews
Some of the things that set you up for success happen before your interviews even begin.
1. Pinpoint the issues and topics that you need to explore.
Ask your team, your management, and other project stakeholders for their input on the types of people to whom you should be talking and the questions you should ask. Crafting a single statement that encapsulates your interview objectives will help you and your teammates to stay focused and make good decisions about which questions to cover. You should limit the number of topic areas that you’ll be covering, so you can explore each topic in depth without worrying about going over schedule. This is especially true if you are new to a subject area or your goal is to give research participants the opportunity to provide rich, unique insights. You may need to run a few pilot interviews to help you gauge the number of topics that you can handle within the time that you have available. Read More