User Interviews: A Primer

A high level overview of the whats, whys, and hows of user interviews for teams that are just getting started (or ready to expand beyond usability testing).

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution.” – Albert Einstein

The deck below is designed to help UX folks introduce the concept, value, and general components of user interviews to their teams, especially when it comes to expanding beyond just usability testing.

It’s not a comprehensive guide, but a jumping off point to help guide conversations, encourage questions, and get stakeholders on the same page about What We Talk About When We Talk about User Research.

Maybe most importantly, it emphasizes the importance of collaborating with stakeholders when conducting user research. That means if you’re giving this presentation with stakeholders in the room, it’s not just about giving them a peek into the process. It’s about holding them (and yourself) accountable to truly integrating user research into the product development process.

The deck is actually a primer for two other, more in-depth presentations (linked below) that I’ve created also for teams new to research. Those presentations happen to focus on user interview techniques, which is why they’re the primary focus of this deck vs. other types of research methods (like contextual inquiries, participatory design, surveys, diary studies, card sorting, etc.).

However! There is a slide that mentions other user research methods, and if you’re giving this presentation (or a version of it), it’s probably a good time to pause and remind people that user interviews are not the right method for every hypothesis you want to validate. :D


Talisa Chang is a interdisciplinary product and UX consultant who likes to help teams learn before they build.

This is part of a series of posts and presentations designed to help teams that are new to user research ramp up and dive in.
Best practices/pep talk: You are the best user researcher ever »
On course-correcting: How to salvage a “bad” user interview »
If you’re a UX researcher or designer, I’d love your feedback on whether these decks were useful jumping off points for introducing these concepts to the rest of your team.