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How to conduct user research by Joel Marsh

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Chapter 6. Interviews

If you want to ask some questions or see people try something you have designed, you need to meet them face-to-face.

What Is an Interview?

An interview is a set of questions, created by you before the interview, asked to a user, in person.

Interviews are good because...

  • You can ask follow-up questions; find out if your questions are confusing; give people tasks to complete; and get long, open answers to questions that might be harder to answer in writing.

  • You can also watch users and get nonverbal clues, and you can learn about things where time limits are built into the experience, like games, quizzes, or real-time messaging.

  • You can hand-pick the testers.

Interviews are bad because...

  • You are there, so testers might adjust their behavior and opinions to get approval from you.

  • It is harder to get real people to come to a place that is good for you, so you will usually end up testing with fewer users.

  • The social nature of a face-to-face interview is not good for embarrassing or private products and services, like that site you buy all your latex body suits from.

  • Introverted users probably can’t imagine anything worse than a face-to-face interview.

You should do interviews when...

You need to test subjective stuff with many steps or decisions involved, like navigating around a site to select the perfect latex body suit. Or if you need to ask follow up questions depending on the user’s behavior, like “which ball-gag goes with that body suit, in your opinion?”

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