Understanding the people you are designing for is a paramount step in the design process, and so one way to achieve that is through conducting user interviews. This guide will help design thinkers to understand users’ experiences from their own point of view in terms of:
Interviews can be a great way to empathize with your users because interviews can give you an in-depth understanding of the users’ values, perceptions, and experiences. They allow you to ask specific questions, while remaining open to exploring your participants’ points of view. They are also often combined with other user research methods, such as usability tests or surveys, so as to gain deeper insights into objective results by asking a user about them and to elicit the user’s subjective opinion on products or interactions.
Semi-structured interviews are somewhat structured in that you prepare a set of topics you would like to cover during the interview, but still open enough that you can follow leads in the conversation and change the order of topics.
This means you have an interview guide with the questions or themes that you want to talk to the user about, but you are free to change the order of questions or to explore different topics that may arise during the interview.
User interviews can be very informative and helpful, but only if they are used correctly and for the right things. It is important to know what you can expect to get out of interviews and what you should not expect to get out of interviews.
User interviews can be conducted for the following reasons:
A good interview requires preparation and careful consideration on the part of the interviewer. It is important to be aware of how to ask questions and how to listen in order to gain valid insights into your participant’s life and experiences.
When you conduct a user interview, consider the best way of ordering the questions. Below are some tips on what to ask in the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of a user interview.
At the beginning of the interview, ask opening questions to set people at ease and build rapport. Do not ask about sensitive topics. Instead, focus on setting the stage and bringing your interviewees on board so they are comfortable enough to be, and remain open with you. Your questions at this stage can include:
In the middle of the interview, you are hitting high gear. Having established a direct channel with your interviewees (the users), you move on and ask the bulk of your questions. The predetermined order of the questions may change based on the direction the conversation is taking. Some of the tips here include:
At the end of the interview, you wrap up in a way that makes participants feel as though they have said what they wanted to say and that their answers are valuable.
Things you should do include:
You have been identified as someone with significant expertise and experience, and we have asked you to participate in this interview. Your responses are confidential. We may need to record the session for use later on as we compile notes from this interview. The conversation will take 30 to 45 minutes of your time.
We have come to the end of the interview. Do you have anything to add that you feel we have not covered?
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. Learning about how you conduct supervision and reporting activities will really help us understand how to create solutions to support your work. If you think of anything else or you have any questions, you are more than welcome to get in touch. I also want to ask if we can contact you again if we think of other questions or if something is unclear. Is that alright?
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