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Diving Deep:  Best Practices For Interviewing Users  Don’t miss the accompanying audio! #DeepDive Steve Portigal
Portigal Consulting is a bite-sized California firm that helps companies discover and act on new insights about their customers and themselves
The research and design process Plan Interview Analyze/  Synthesize Design Implement Today’s focus
Today’s focus The research and design process Plan Interview Design Implement Analyze/  Synthesize
Typical development lifecycle What to make or do Refine & prototype Launch Iterate & improve
Interviewing through the development cycle Take a fresh look at people What to make or do Refine & prototype Launch Iterate & improve
Interviewing through the development cycle Use existing ideas as hypotheses What to make or do Refine & prototype Launch Iterate & improve
Interviewing through the development cycle What to make or do Refine & prototype Launch History provides context to explore new ideas Iterate & improve
Four deceptively simple tactics Questions without answers Natural language Silence 1 Silence 2
Tactic #1: Natural language Talk like your subject talks!
Tactic #2: Questions without answers Don’t give away the answers you are looking for
After you ask your question, be silent Tactic #3: Silence 1
After they’ve answered you, be silent Tactic #4: Silence 2
Fieldwork principle Let go of your perspective Embrace their perspective Let go, Luke!
A failure to embrace (1 of 2) Client: So the concept of transferring, burning, and syncing, can you talk a little about those three concepts? So transfer, burn, and sync. Just do you understand the difference? Interviewee: Transfer, burn, sync. Burn is when I’m actually putting it onto some kind of disc. Okay… Transferring is I guess when I transfer the files from one place to the other. Mm-hmm… Whether it’s to a device or to a different drive or whatever or into the program I guess. And syncing, well, I know the phone always comes up and says it’s syncing, when it’s syncing up to the files or syncing up to the computer or stuff like that. That’s the only time I think I’ve ever really heard that. (cont’d)
A failure to embrace (2 of 2) Client: So the only other question I have left in this area is: Would you expect to manually decide what music goes on your devices or would you rather that the machine does it for you? Interviewee: Decide what I want on my…? Let’s say your library is here on this machine, and you have a device, would you want it to put as much as it could put on from the library from the device when it’s connected to your computer? If I could hold it… if the device itself could actually hold all the files, I would love that, if it automatically… Just knew. Just knew that it wasn’t on there, the same thing when…what do you call it - when I have to go into the program and actually have it… downl…uhh, now I’m confused in what I should call it. No, no, don’t worry about it!
Before you start doing interviews, do a team-wide brain dump of all your assumptions and expectations Go to where your users are rather than asking them to come to you Don’t dress like you are going to work ,[object Object],Arrive relaxed ,[object Object]
No rushed commute
Your bathroom needs taken care ofMake the interview about the interview ,[object Object],Be comfortable asking questions you (think you) know the answers to HOWTO let go Sometimes the unpredictable and “real” nature of interviews will ensure that you do indeed let go
Building rapport, the soft skill
Building rapport, the soft skill You can think of rapport as the energy that makes for a fantastic interview that all parties are enthused about during and after It’s your responsibility to build this rapport Be selective about social graces ,[object Object]
Too much small talk is confusing since this isn’t a social callBe selective about talking about yourself ,[object Object]
Otherwise, think “OMG! Me too!” without saying itThere’s a visceral tipping point where interviews shift from a back-and-forth question/answer/ question/answer exchange to question/story. That’s how rapport-building pays off.
Listening is the rapport engine Don’t interrupt! Be silent (see Tactics 3 and 4) Maintain eye contact Head-nodding and mm-hmm Acknowledgement phrases: “I see” Your mm-hmms can be frustrating when editing interview video, but leading a great interview is more important, so intermediate interviewers should just let ‘er rip.
Listening body language Yes! Not so much.
Expert listening You can demonstrate that you are listening by asking questions! ,[object Object]
“Earlier, you told us that…”
“I want to go back to something else you said…”Signal your transitions: “Great, now I’d like to move onto a totally different topic” This level of listening is not how we normally talk to each other ,[object Object],This is really hard
Find your personal style The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The interview guide (or field guide) A more-than-you-can-ask set of questions Share with team to align on issues of concern ,[object Object],Helps you pre-visualize the flow of the session ,[object Object],Prepping an interview guide means that you may not need to use the interview guide ,[object Object]
It does come in handy during freeze-up moments
Scan it over to see what else you want to cover,[object Object]
Also include in the plan Observations to cover ,[object Object],A shot list, which could include: ,[object Object]
Server closet
Form storage
Key blank cabinet
Face of participant
Participant in front of their cars
Action shot of us doing the interviews,[object Object]
Types of questions

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SXSW - Diving Deep: Best Practices For Interviewing Users

  • 1. Diving Deep: Best Practices For Interviewing Users Don’t miss the accompanying audio! #DeepDive Steve Portigal
  • 2. Portigal Consulting is a bite-sized California firm that helps companies discover and act on new insights about their customers and themselves
  • 3. The research and design process Plan Interview Analyze/ Synthesize Design Implement Today’s focus
  • 4. Today’s focus The research and design process Plan Interview Design Implement Analyze/ Synthesize
  • 5. Typical development lifecycle What to make or do Refine & prototype Launch Iterate & improve
  • 6. Interviewing through the development cycle Take a fresh look at people What to make or do Refine & prototype Launch Iterate & improve
  • 7. Interviewing through the development cycle Use existing ideas as hypotheses What to make or do Refine & prototype Launch Iterate & improve
  • 8. Interviewing through the development cycle What to make or do Refine & prototype Launch History provides context to explore new ideas Iterate & improve
  • 9. Four deceptively simple tactics Questions without answers Natural language Silence 1 Silence 2
  • 10. Tactic #1: Natural language Talk like your subject talks!
  • 11. Tactic #2: Questions without answers Don’t give away the answers you are looking for
  • 12. After you ask your question, be silent Tactic #3: Silence 1
  • 13. After they’ve answered you, be silent Tactic #4: Silence 2
  • 14. Fieldwork principle Let go of your perspective Embrace their perspective Let go, Luke!
  • 15. A failure to embrace (1 of 2) Client: So the concept of transferring, burning, and syncing, can you talk a little about those three concepts? So transfer, burn, and sync. Just do you understand the difference? Interviewee: Transfer, burn, sync. Burn is when I’m actually putting it onto some kind of disc. Okay… Transferring is I guess when I transfer the files from one place to the other. Mm-hmm… Whether it’s to a device or to a different drive or whatever or into the program I guess. And syncing, well, I know the phone always comes up and says it’s syncing, when it’s syncing up to the files or syncing up to the computer or stuff like that. That’s the only time I think I’ve ever really heard that. (cont’d)
  • 16. A failure to embrace (2 of 2) Client: So the only other question I have left in this area is: Would you expect to manually decide what music goes on your devices or would you rather that the machine does it for you? Interviewee: Decide what I want on my…? Let’s say your library is here on this machine, and you have a device, would you want it to put as much as it could put on from the library from the device when it’s connected to your computer? If I could hold it… if the device itself could actually hold all the files, I would love that, if it automatically… Just knew. Just knew that it wasn’t on there, the same thing when…what do you call it - when I have to go into the program and actually have it… downl…uhh, now I’m confused in what I should call it. No, no, don’t worry about it!
  • 17.
  • 19.
  • 20. Building rapport, the soft skill
  • 21.
  • 22.
  • 23. Otherwise, think “OMG! Me too!” without saying itThere’s a visceral tipping point where interviews shift from a back-and-forth question/answer/ question/answer exchange to question/story. That’s how rapport-building pays off.
  • 24. Listening is the rapport engine Don’t interrupt! Be silent (see Tactics 3 and 4) Maintain eye contact Head-nodding and mm-hmm Acknowledgement phrases: “I see” Your mm-hmms can be frustrating when editing interview video, but leading a great interview is more important, so intermediate interviewers should just let ‘er rip.
  • 25. Listening body language Yes! Not so much.
  • 26.
  • 27. “Earlier, you told us that…”
  • 28.
  • 29. Find your personal style The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • 30.
  • 31. It does come in handy during freeze-up moments
  • 32.
  • 33.
  • 34.
  • 35.
  • 40. Participant in front of their cars
  • 41.
  • 45. Why so many types of questions? Real interviews aren’t as simple as asking a question, getting an answer, and then moving onto the next question in your list. You are unlikely to get to the actual answer without asking a few different questions a few different ways. You need a range of tools and techniques. And you need to feel when you haven’t got to the real answer yet so you can keep going.
  • 46. Prepare for exploding questions Well, my cousin never tells me when she has an updated bank balance so I figured I would handle it myself. That’s why I signed up for the PayPal service, I think it’s them but maybe not. Coping techniques Wait until these issues come up organically, without you having to ask Make notes on your field guide about what you want to loop back to so you don’t forget Triage based on what’s most pressing for your topic Triage based on what makes the best follow-up, to demonstrate listening Why does this matter? Let’s find out what service this is?! Okay. I decided I had to spend the money I had from last month in order to save month’s money and this service was going to help me do that. Even if it’s not the same password that my cousin would be using I don’t understand her financial model… Why does she expect that it would be the same?
  • 47. Managing others in the field Client: So, really interesting the sort of things that you as old Derek used to value, such as efficiency of time, and some of those things have now influenced the new Derek. Derek: Right. Steve: Maybe that sort of begs a larger question…We’ve offered you this idea of old versus new you, but how do you think about this transition? Derek:Yeah, I don’t really see it.
  • 48.
  • 49. Getting better at interviewing Practice with hallway or other serendipitous micro-interviews Write surveys and participant screeners to practice crafting questions out of the moment How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, man, practice!
  • 50. Participant screeners as asking practice A good way to practice both framing a question and the empathic exercise of thinking through the respondent’s user experience with that question
  • 51. Write and take surveys Develop your own critical eye (and interviewer’s voice) by looking for bad examples and identifying just what’s wrong with them
  • 52. We learn from mistakes and mishaps Collect and share war stories with other interviewers THANX 4 NOTHING KITTEH
  • 53. Coming in 2012! A book by Steve Portigal The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/user-interviews/
  • 54. Thank you! Portigal Consulting www.portigal.com @steveportigal steve@portigal.com 415-894-2001

Editor's Notes

  1. Even though Don Norman says this doesn’t work because it didn’t lead to the airplane, etc., this is a lot of our work