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A Crash Course in User Interview Technique

Accidents happen. Important people in product teams get the flu. Airplanes get delayed. Sometimes you just can’t make it to the user interview you had scheduled. User interviews are a vital part of understanding your users and gives you an outside perspective on how to improve the user experience (UX) of you service.

A simple solution to unfortunate situations — that may or may not include being delayed at Reykjavik’s airport — is to teach your teammates the techniques required to perform a solid user interview or usability test, so they can step in for you.

The following list contains a few tips and tricks to get the most useful data you can from user interviews.

  • A user interview can differ from a journalistic interview in the sense that UX Researchers are not looking for particular answer. In journalism, leading questions can be an effective way of getting a conversation going, but those questions will not help you figure out what can be improved with your product. There aren’t wrong or right answers so it’s important to ask as neutral questions as possible.

A user interview differs from a journalistic interview in the sense that UX Researchers are not looking for a particular answer.

  • It can be very tempting to interrupt users, to help them or to fill an awkward silence. But when you give users time to think or let an awkward silence go unbroken, users will often fill it themselves in surprising ways. They often offer up extra information or repeat what they just said but in better wording. Useful!

Yay, you for getting this far! You get a virtual high five and a pass to browse cute gifs for five minutes.

For more UX tips and tricks follow me and Mic Product on Twitter!

Big Sean flying, exactly like my airplane did not.



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Unn Swanström

UX Designer at Doberman. Speaker, Meetup organizer. A talkative Swedish vagabond currently based in Stockholm. IT Woman of the Year 2015.