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All about User Research: Interviewing


User Research is the art of understanding the behaviors, motivations, and needs of target users. It is the first step in building any product or startup. User Research can be done in the following ways:

User Research is very crucial for any startup or organization as it sets the foundation for future product development. The reason most startups fail is that they built products to solve problems that the end-users never want. Thus it is really important to understand the user needs, behaviors, and pain points to ensure we solve real user needs.

We will discuss interviews, which are an important part of user research.

Why Interviewing? 🤔

Interviewing is the process of interacting with the target users to discover emotions that guide customer behavior. Interviews are a perfect way to gather additional information and validate assumptions.

Interview Techniques

Interviews can be mastered by using the following techniques.

Asking open-ended questions

The best way to conduct user interviews is by asking open-ended questions. These questions let the user share his/her thoughts without any restrictions. Open-ended questions help the interviewer get some fresh perspective and avoid leading the interview with any personal bias.

Avoid Leading the subject

The interviews should be honest and not be conducted to prove something right. In many instances, founders are so attached to the idea that they end up leading the interview in the way they want. Such interviews will not help in any way, as the ultimate aim of conducting user interviews is to hear out what the target user feels and thinks about the process.

Ask Why?

The interviewee should be a curious cat and must ask why to dive deep into the user's perspective. It is important to understand the perspective of the end-user and to do so, the interviewee has to ask why the user has a certain perspective. As important to understand the likes and dislikes of the end-users, equally important is to find out why does the user feel so.

Keep your questions Short!

The questions which you plan for the interview must be short and precise. The questions must be one-liner and broad questions, they must not emphasize the nitty-gritty of aspects. Ensure the question asked is no longer than one line(<12 words). Also, ask one question at a time, don't ask multiple questions in a single go. For example: Don't ask questions like " What do you prefer for breakfast? Why do you have this preference? and How do you cook the breakfast?"

Avoid Binary Questions

The interviewer should avoid binary questions such as: "Do you agree cricket is a better sport than basketball?". These questions are often leading and prevent the interviewee to share actual insights which can be useful for the interviewer. Instead, open-ended questions should be asked to ensure you gain beneficial insights.

Note Taking is the Key

Keep a notepad during the meeting to keep a record of useful insights you gain during the interview process. This is a very crucial step as it can help keep account of key insights shared by the user. But, one must not get too engaged in the note-taking process as it can distract the interviewee and can break the interviewing momentum. Instead use a voice recorder as it will help you pay attention to the interviewee, and not get distracted to note-taking.

Avoid breaking the Conversation

Let the interviewee complete the talk and resist the urge to ask questions in between. Stay engaged in the process and keep your questions to the end. If you want to add some insights or say something, wait for the interviewee to complete. Also, resist the temptation to talk about yourself, your user is the resource person, not you:)

Match your body language

Interviewing is all about gaining insights by empathizing with the end-users. Making the user comfortable during the interview process is crucial. Thus, interviewers must match the energy, body language, and communication style of the end-users. If the interviewee has a slow-paced communication style, the interviewer must emulate it to gain maximum insights and empathy from the end user. The interviewer must establish eye contact, listen to the interviewee attentively, and use an empathetic tone to create a more comforting experience.

Following the above techniques can help in mastering the art of user interviewing. Asking open ended questions, focusing on user experience, testing assumptions and paying attention to emotional needs will help in perfecting the process. These techniques can be really helpful in understanding user needs, customer behavior, problems encountered as well as gaining user empathy.

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