Interviewing Users | Steve Portigal

Summary of: Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights
By: Steve Portigal


Do you want to uncover the secrets to creating compelling, user-focused designs? Dive into the world of ‘Interviewing Users’ by Steve Portigal, where you’ll explore how to understand users effectively and ensure your products cater to their needs. The book teaches powerful interview techniques that will help you gain valuable insights from users, which will in turn inspire innovative product development. With practical advice on establishing rapport, conducting interviews, framing problems, and analyzing data, ‘Interviewing Users’ will equip you with a wealth of knowledge that will be crucial in the success of your designs.

Designing for the user

To design successful products, understanding the users is crucial, and this requires qualitative or quantitative research. The pitfall of assuming that users will have the same preferences as the designer must be avoided. Designers need to study people in their context, explore their behavior, interpret data, and use insights drawn from user input to improve design. Interviews with customers drive shifts in perspective that can lead to innovation. Different research techniques, including usability and A/B testing, quantitative surveys, web analytics, focus groups, and central location tests, can be used in various situations. It’s essential to note that interviews provide deeper insights instead of statistically relevant data and cannot predict future behavior. Before starting a user interview project, it’s crucial to get everyone’s ideas on the table.

Mastering Interview Skills

To conduct a successful interview, start with an open-minded and empathetic approach. Be an empty vessel and regard the interviewee as the expert. Conduct interviews in their environments to gain context and build a good rapport. Pay attention to your body language and use information from the previous answer to construct the next question. Remember that the interview situation is artificial, so avoid sharing too much information about yourself. Good listening is key to building rapport and avoiding bias. Interviews not only inform design but inspire it.

Conducting Effective User Research

Effective tips on how to conduct user research by setting project goals, recruiting participants, creating an effective field guide, and paying incentives.

To conduct useful user research, it’s essential to start by setting project goals with the stakeholders. Find out their histories with the organization, their beliefs about the customer, their business objectives, and the questions they want to be answered. Create a survey to screen for the most relevant participants and use customer databases to recruit them or hire an agency. Expect to pay $150 to $225 per participant.

When conducting the interviews, have the participants review and sign their release forms, then confirm the time of the interview, and explain the reason for it before asking background questions. The main body of the field guide should contain data collection techniques and how the participant will interact with the materials. Ask more “audacious” questions once you’ve built rapport with them and wrap up the interview by asking if they have any questions, paying them the promised incentive, and thanking them for their time.

Don’t schedule too many interviews in one day, and ensure the stakeholders create a release form outlining the rights and obligations of the participants and sponsoring organization. While mailing a check is usual, handing the incentive to the participant in person is more satisfying. Remember to think of the incentive as an enthusiastically demonstrative “thank you.”

Techniques for Effective Interviewing

Learn how to engage participants during interviews using different techniques. The book suggests four methods: Show and Tell, Mapping, Reactions to Concepts, and Homework. Show and tell involves having participants show you how they use a product or service, while Mapping utilizes a tangible representation of a process or space. Reactions to concepts involve using lo-fi mock-ups or storyboards with cards to test participants’ responses. Lastly, Homework requires participants to log their activities in a set timeframe. These techniques will help you conduct interviews that are engaging, informative, and yield valuable insights.

Mastering the Art of Interviewing

Learn how to conduct a successful interview by following these stages. Introduce yourself and state objectives, keep questions simple and factual, and build rapport to encourage the participant to share their stories, goals, and aspirations. Having two interviewers is ideal to provide support and prevent intimidation, but too many can make the participant feel uncomfortable. Remember to keep recording equipment running after the interview ends, as valuable information may still come up. With these tips, you can achieve a successful and insightful interview.

Navigating Successful Interviews

The success of an interview lies in your ability to seize opportunities and control the flow. Avoid suggesting answers and manage the pace by switching topics smoothly. Ask different types of questions to get detailed and complete responses. Listen actively, embrace the interviewee’s experiences, and avoid lecturing. Address mistakes at the end and show enthusiasm for the product without providing support. Remember, silence helps defeat awkwardness and stay flexible to keep the conversation interesting.

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