Why should you, and how can you conduct user research interviews? Excellent question. It’s an important question. And we’re glad you asked.
What is User Research?
User Research (aka, UX Research) is the methodology used to discover users’ frustrations and barriers as they interact with a product. Your goal (should be) to create a user-centered product.
Therefore, you’re looking to contextualize your product in the hands of actual human users. You’re looking to uncover and understand user behavior and needs as they use your app, software, or product.
So, user research involves various techniques—direct observation, interviews, surveys, and task analyses—to learn how your users interact with your product. It’s essential to do in every stage of product development, from conceptualization and design to prototyping, beta runs, and launch.
Why is User Research Important?
With a user-centered design approach (which you should have,) you must first empathize with your user. Of course, You’ve already started doing that with your exact definition of your target market and market validation. And now, it’s time to do this with your product design.
User research is just that—understanding your target audience as they interact with your product. How does it meet their needs? Or, how well does it improve and alleviate their current pain points?
If you don’t know these answers, you’ll likely end up designing your product through your bias: already educated on exactly how the app works. But that’s not how fresh eyes will see it—they won’t know your vision, and they’ll be new to interacting with the solution you ideated.
So, in order to not launch blindly, it’s crucial you conduct thorough user research. You need to understand your product’s usability, engagement, and effectiveness before asking people to spend their time and money on it. And that begins with user research interviews.
How to Conduct User Research Interviews
1. Establish Your Research Objectives (Research Plan)
The first step is to understand and document precisely what you want to learn. Like they tell you in 7th-grade science class, when you’re learning how to formulate hypotheses (scientific method ftw,) there should be no assumptions here. Just unbiased questions you’d like to answer.
So, these learning objectives can involve users’ goals or motivations, knowledge, decision-making processes, behaviors, and situations in which they’d want your solution.
2. Decide on Your Interviewees
You’ll then want to establish to whom you’d like to ask your questions. Of course, if you have actual users already, that’s not a bad place to start. But, you’re going to want to talk to anyone in that ecosystem of needs and wants. Ergo, potential users with similar demographics, situations, motivations, etc.
3. Create an Interview Guide (Research Guide)
Once you’ve pooled together your actual and/or prospective users and segmented them by the different types of motivations, demographics, behaviors, etc., it’s time to figure out how to best learn how to ask them your questions.
It’s so important to avoid biases in this stage. For instance, there’s a huge difference between asking: “How did you like this time machine?” and asking, “How did you feel about this time machine?” So, use open-ended questions (“What is it like to do X?” or “Can you tell me about a time when Y?”) and avoid questions that are explicitly pointed towards your product (“Do you think this time machine is a good idea?”)
Additionally, avoid asking direct questions about what the user wants from your product. This isn’t a brainstorming session, and the user isn’t the designer. If feature requests do naturally arise, it could be good feedback—but only if you dig in deeper to learn why they want what they want.
You’ll want to structure your interview in a way that begins with a general conversation and becomes more specific as you learn more. So, start with an introduction with which you explain your goal. You want to make the interviewee feel comfortable with you and comfortable with sharing their honest opinions.
Then, ask the user to begin telling you their stories and narrow down the conversation to more specific points with follow-up questions. Lastly, ask them questions that guide them in summarizing the most important points to them.
4. Conduct Your Interviews
Generally, user research interviews last about 30 minutes to an hour and a half, but they’re fluid; it depends on how much you’re learning.
To get the most out of your interviews, make sure you keep things grounded in reality. Ergo, return to the facts when your interview begins with hypotheticals or generic claims (“I usually.”)
Additionally, take extremely diligent notes (or have a note-taker.) Review them after the interview to make sure they make sense (or need some typo corrections.)
As we mentioned, it’s important not to talk directly about your idea. People are usually either people-pleasers or the opposite. And, either way, they might change their answers depending on what they think you want to hear.
Lastly, be mindful of how your interviews are going. If you feel you’re not learning enough or not understanding a specific point deeply enough, it’s essential to go back to your research guide drawing board. What learning objectives are you not fulfilling, and how can you restructure the interviews to answer those questions?
5. Synthesize Your Findings
Once you’ve done your user research interviews, it’s time to analyze the qualitative and quantitative data that you’ve aggregated. You’re going to want to look for trends—repeating pain points, tendencies, motivations, etc. By understanding the patterns behind the answers for your learning objectives, you’ll be able to build (or refine) or personas, flow maps, content hierarchies, and design.
Well, this was a lot. We know.
Coincidentally, hi, we’re Goji Labs—a product and software development consultancy with experience in designing, “rescuing,” and deploying hundreds of products.
Looking to develop a new app or revamp an existing one? Need some product strategy or development help?
Have any general questions about who we are and our authority on the subject?
Reach us at GojiLabs.com.
– Goji Labs