User interviews are typically part of any ideation phase, generative research, or concept development. It’s not just about chatting with people. In fact, the interviews should follow a structured methodology in order to get the most out of them. Whatever your role — designer, product manager, marketer, researcher — you need to prepare the topics to cover, make a record, and analyze the conversation. Generally, UX research helps to gather information like user motivation, feelings, and daily routines. Despite a few drawbacks, the interview holds a high place to collect qualitative data.
How to conduct user interviews
The ideal interview involves one user and two UX researchers. First, the researcher asks questions and guides the interviewee. And the second UX researcher takes notes.
First, you should set the goal of the interview. What is the purpose of the research? Besides that, you need a schedule and location. This is where you pay attention to user convenience. Are the participants comfortable holding a session at their homes or office?
You must provide as much information as possible, including when and where the interview will be conducted. When you share this information, you’ll establish a sense of trust before the interview kicks in.
The interview can be the best tool to solve the problem but not the universal answer to all challenges. At this point, you should decide who you want to involve in the process. You can recruit a sample of the target audience and find participants that match them.
Start by introducing yourself and explain the purpose of the UX research. For a seamless user experience, you ought to create a rapport with the respondent. The truth is people feel free to talk in a relaxed manner.
The interviews should be rigorous and well-thought-out. It’s about asking them what they want – not what you want to hear from them. Furthermore, you should ensure the questions are easy to answer and not judgmental.
Why conduct a user interview
What are the motivations for adopting the product? It must relate to the task you wish to perform and the views with which the users associate.
The interview helps to figure out the problem of the user and makes sure we correct the issues. It’s a crucial step of design thinking that allows testing prototypes, not to mention the problem is usable for the people. The “WHY” aspect refers to the motivations, values, and views.
When to conduct user interviews
During the early stages of product development, users can provide valuable feedback. And the information you collect will give an idea of how to think of a solution.
The interviews must be conducted based on the inquiry, and this allows users to interact with the product. It takes into consideration every aspect that relates to the design of the functionality.
Why UX interview is a vital part of UX design
UX interviews involve people who come from different backgrounds. It aims to provide a positive experience about a brand or product. It defines customer journeys and the steps to take for your business’s success. A smart user experience involves identifying the problem and coming up with ideas. And because UX interviews are subjective, the best way to get the correct information is to interact with the users.
Tips for conducting user interviews
1. Prepare questions
You should never start an interview without a guide. It is a document that can help you formulate questions. Keep in mind the questions should be tied to the purpose of the UX research and must align with your goal. You can think of it as the skeleton of the document. Some of the tips when preparing the script include:
Select questions short and read out aloud. The questions should be clear – you should avoid using unfamiliar terms. At the same time, keep the questions brief for easy understanding. People can also retain short information in their memory.
Finally, test a discussion on your peers. You can get valuable insight based on the answers you get.
2. Ask open-ended questions
The first section consists of a few general questions to help you develop rapport with the interviewee. Your main task is to keep the conversation on the topic.
Open-ended questions ensure the interviewee responds with words with qualitative and richer details. It gives the respondents valuable insights into questions like what, where, when, who, how, and why.
You can ask questions like; how can the product or service fit in your workflow? What experience do you have with the product? Where did you get stuck with product design? The last section should allow the interviewee to contribute to their feeling.
3. Let the user speak
At times, you may be tempted to ask questions for clarification. But this will only yield expansive responses. A key thing to keep in mind is that you should let the user feel relaxed as possible and don’t rush questions right away. It is where you should anticipate different responses.
4. Don’t try to help the user
During your interview, you should not rush the user. Instead, take it slow to bring a calming effect. It shows you’re not anxious and that you have time to listen. Why not embrace silence?
5. Record and take notes
Whenever possible, you should record the conversation to refer back to later. And depending on your preferences, you can have a pen and paper or a laptop. You can also take notes for every question and any other important information.
As you take your notes, make sure you pay attention to any significant details like why, how, who, where, and more. Furthermore, it would be best to capture any surprising thing that can come up during an interview.
Take notes of what should be explored in subsequent interviews. Your goal is only to ask relevant questions. If you talk during this time, the respondent may not thoroughly think through the answer. A general rule of thumb is to avoid making small talk.
Every time you take notes, make sure they are detailed and include some direct quotes. Of course, the recording is all you need to transcribe after an interview.
6. Record your insights after the interview
It’s not always possible to write down all helpful information during an interview. Furthermore, some interesting points and ideas can come to your mind after the interview. So, once it is finished, try to find a moment to record on your phone the main insights and tell your general impression of the interview. This way, you won’t miss anything. Everything will still be fresh in your mind, and you’ll be able to give complete feedback related to the concerns or responses of the user.
7. Convert your recordings to text
To be concentrated during the whole interview and not take notes all the time, you can easily convert your video or audio file to text with automated transcription software. So that you don’t need another person to take notes. Furthermore, you can save your time and not listen to the whole recording several times to catch everything.
8. Check the notes and make a full analysis
Once the interview is over, you should analyze what the users said and structure the information. You can check a transcript with your notes and add new points if needed.
You can also create mind maps to help you identify the links on topics that may not be obvious.
After you analyze the results, you’ll have a good understanding of the product you are working on. While it may be tempting to implement the insights right away, your goal is to validate the results. The best thing about user interviews is that you can combine them with other methods to confirm your hypothesis.
A final word on user interviews
User interviews help to give the best insights in an informative way. However, this can only apply when you conduct the interviews properly. If you’re just getting started, you don’t have to get everything right the first time. But just like any other skill, this is something that can be learned. Your goal is to keep the interviewer informed.
The best thing you can do is to keep practicing until you get results. Be sure to include the correct information by taking notes and recording the details. If you harness the skills and employ the best practices, you can design an optimal product that outshines your competitors.