10 tips for interviewing users in the design process

I’ve just finished reading ‘Interviewing users: How to uncover compelling insights’ by Steve Portigal. Brilliant read if you haven’t read it! Its a useful primer on research techniques and you’ll pick up on some gems to help you uncover the best insights for your clients.

Here are my top 10 from the book.

  1. You are not your user — take yourself out of the picture and observe and listen to others, not the voice in your head.
  2. Getting out and about and experiencing a person in their environment is more valuable than anything else — do it!
  3. What you observe as a need may actually be something that your customer is perfectly tolerant of — think about this in context of the bigger picture.
  4. Interviewing throughout the development process is important, don’t just do it at the beginning or the end; do it throughout.
  5. Always build projection/dream questions into interview guide — eg If we came back in 5 years to have this conversation again, what would be different?
  6. Be creative with note taking, use photos or sketching to get more detail about the person’s environment & interesting artifacts within their environment.
  7. Stop calling concept testing, concept testing. ‘Reactions to concepts’ is a much better way of describing what you’re actually doing here. Uncovering insight around a concept is much more valuable than testing if something is right or wrong.
  8. Pause more — don’t be eager to speak — the power of silence is extraordinary. Before jumping in to speak, try pausing and see what happens.
  9. Let go of being right, if someone mispronounces something don’t correct them, instead reframe the question to something like “I want to ask about what you call the…” You’ll find out more about the person and their world.
  10. Don’t enter lecture mode — transforming from a listener to a teller is not a researcher’s role. As a good standard researchers should only be talking for around 20% of the entire interview.
  11. A sneaky 11th tip — Try to involve clients in interviews — we do this for user testing so why not get them involved in interviews too.

Has anyone else read the book? Any top tips I’ve missed. Get in touch [email protected]

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