WHAT IS IT?
A user interview is a common user research technique used typically to get qualitative information from either existing or potential users. User interviews can be a great way to extract information from users for user experience understanding, usability understanding, and ideation. They are cheap and easy to conduct. User interviews can be a great way to extract information from users for user experience understanding, usability understanding, and ideation.
The ideal interview takes place with two UX researchers and one user. The first UX researcher focuses on asking questions and guiding the interviewee through the interview. The second takes notes. If a second researcher is unavailable for this – then videoing or audio recording an interview can be a good way to record the information elicited. If the researcher asking questions takes notes – there’s a good chance that the interview will be derailed and become hard to manage. Below are the topics which should be covered in a typical user interview-
- Background (such as ethnographic data)
- The use of technology in general
- The use of the product
- The user’s main objectives and motivations
- The user’s pain points
This all information helps in creating more realistic user personas which will help in understanding the potential and existing users.
WHEN TO BE USED?
User interviews are generally used in the initial phase of the project to understand the user more practically. It is helpful in requirement gathering and ideation phase. It can typically be used after prototyping too to understand the usability of the product.
HOW TO CONDUCT USER INTERVIEWS?
- Be Prepared: Know what questions you want to be answered. Keep your problem statements ready, write them down. Take help from your team, your management, and other project stakeholders for their input on the types of people to whom you should be talking to. Run a few pilot interviews to help you so you know how many questions you can ask in the given time.
- Choose your user: Be specific, what characteristics you need in your user. Create a separate set of recruiting criteria for each distinct type of user that you want to include in your study. Make sure your users fully understand the nature of the interview and why you are inviting them to take part in the study. Your users should be representative of your personas.
- Make your interviewee comfortable: dress in a manner similar to them, make sure they understand you are testing a product or an idea and not the user themselves, offer them a drink, conduct a little small talk, before you start, etc.
- Listen: Give your user time to think, answer the question you asked. As long as the conversation leads to your research goal, let them talk. Don’t start talking to a friend but stick to your research. Try to focus on the interviewee and not on note making: it’s just plain rude to bury your head in your notes. Maintain eye contact, keep a conversation flowing and record the interview rather than getting lost in note making.
- Structure your interview: A user interview is usually made up of 4 parts: an introduction(give your users idea of what’s going on, so that they don’t feel too confused throughout the interview.), some warm up questions(few generic questions that are related to the topic of your interview like user hobbies, occupation etc.), the main body questions(This is main part. Know about their past experience, problems and be specific ask details about incidents.), and a wrap up ( aske your user if they have anything else to add on, give them a sense of closure.).
- Getting down to the root cause of a problem requires you to also ask why. This will help you in understanding what your users are trying to achieve. Many times things can be solved with minor adjustments rather than developing a whole new feature.
- Try to keep the interview on time and heading in the right direction: the reason scripts are useful is because you can reference them for this.
- Thank the interviewee at the end of the process: not only is this polite but you can offer a chance for the interviewee to ask any question of their own at this point too.
- Minimise Distractions: Choose a distraction-free place where the user is comfortable. Plan better and keep it on time.
Well, a good user interview can always reduce the number of problems you encounter, and give you a better shot at getting requirements that actually meet the user’s real needs. Later you can use this data for mind map or further processes.