How to Conduct Great User Interviews | UserActive

How to Conduct Great User Interviews

User Interviews

Gathering User Insights

Do you feel like you could do with some insight into your users biggest problems, but also their biggest successes using your software? If so, then user interviews are a great way to get deep insights that can actually inform the designs and improvements that you make to your product. And in this video, I’m going to talk to you about how to conduct great user interviews.

So recently, a client of ours came and asked us if we could redesign the UX of their software, Virtual Summits. Mark the founder of VSS said to me, ‘hey to inform this process of UX. We’d love it if you could do some user interviews. It would be really great. We could do with the good insights. And I think it would really inform your process for design.’ I thought what a brilliant idea.

So we jumped straight in in this process. I’m going to tell you about five steps that we did that produced a really great process. We got some great insight and it helped us to focus on what improvements to make on the product and it helped us to refine the ICP. And in fact, there were a few profiles that we decided not to pursue anymore because the users having the most success with the product for a special kind of ideal customer profile that we decided to hone in on. And thirdly, it helped us to know just what not to waste time and energy on, what not to focus on, which I think can be a huge time drain for a lot of companies if you haven’t decided where to focus your efforts on your product. So those were the benefits. And here’s a process that we went upon.

1. Planning the logistics

So the first step was that we planned out the logistics. I recommend having somebody who can facilitate this process, who can reach out to users, ask them for their time, offer them an incentive or a thank you, something like a voucher or a discount, because they’re obviously giving us some valuable insights and voluntarily giving up their time to do so.

Also set up your systems. So most of that I did with Google Sheets and Google Docs and Google slides actually always using the Google suite for these kind of quick and easy processes.

2. Defining your segments

So the second step is to define user segments. So another great idea Mark had was, hey, Peter, why don’t we split these interviews into three types of users, three cohorts. So we looked at new users, did a series of interviews with those. We looked at existing users, did interviews with them, and we also did interviews with users that were either thinking about cancelling or have cancelled or turned very recently. So you can see why that’s a great idea.

So we used email we use currently to book in the calls and we used Zoom and recorded these calls on Zoom with screen share and a lot of cases and then also just have a plan for the final step, which is just going through the findings and sharing that out with your team. We got three different types of insights at three different stages of the consumer lifecycle and three different areas that we can implement great product designs to improve Virtual Summits Software.

3. Writing your questionnaires

Now, with these three segments, we did three questionnaires and it actually takes time to write great questions because you want to get to the bottom of any problems, any challenges or difficulties you want to get sometimes beyond the surface answer or symptom and get to the root cause of problems. So you need clever questions and it takes time to think those through. Also, you want a standardised format to ask all of your users so that they have the same questions and you can go and compare and contrast answers later on.

4. Conducting your user interviews

Here are some tips for conducting really great interviews. First of all, ask open ended questions. Don’t ask yes, no questions. You want questions that provide context, that enable your users to elaborate, talk about specific occasions, explain why problems occurred, explain difficulties they had and explain what they were trying to achieve.

That’s always really important. What was stopping them, getting the results that they were looking for. So it is open ended questions really help with that.

What you find when you start asking them is that some users will elaborate and give you a very long answer and will happily continue talking. And that’s that’s great. You can you can almost just sit back and, you know, enable them to really elaborate on their answers.

Other users. You’ll find a very succinct with their answers. They’re very tight lipped. They might not give you all the information you need and it’s very good practise. So ask them teaser questions that kind of follow up. Ask them to elaborate on their answers and give you more insight. So the who what, how, when, why kind of questions. These are really help in those situations and and don’t feel that you need to kind of jump in.

When you ask a question, you can leave it there. If there’s a moment’s silence, leave it. Because often users are either trying to recollect times when they use the software or they’re trying to just remind themselves of context again, because, you know, they might not be logged in, so another great tip here is to ask them to log in and screen share if they’re talking about a specific situation or even if they’re having trouble remembering one, because the minute they log in, they start sharing their screen.

It all comes back to them and you can see and then they’ll explain, oh, there was a time I was trying to achieve X and I had this problem. Sometimes on those calls you can see immediately what the problem is and you can almost get an idea for solving that right away. So those are really good practises and they’ll ensure that your interviews do give you good insight and your your users are comfortable during that interview process.

5. Reviewing your findings with Observations and Insights

So the final step here is to just review your findings. So what you want to do is spend some time going through all of the interviews. You’ll probably have video files here like we had. Sometimes I get transcripts of the key points and then you compare and contrast all the answers together. But fundamentally, you’re going to get two types of information from this.

You’re going to get observations and insights. So observations are going to be thoughts, feelings, experiences, and they’re usually anecdotal. And then insights are going to be like key pieces of information that could be statistics or data or metrics. So, for instance, at the end of this process, I was able to go back to virtual summits and say, hey, look, x percentage of users are cancelling because of such and such reason. Or I could say why percentage of users are not converting from free trial to the upgrade because they’re considering this or they’re having difficulty with this or they’re struggling to decide because of another factor.

So those really great outcomes that you can get, you’ve got anecdotal feedback and you’ve also got data and insights and you want to review these. The key thing here is that not everything that the users say is gospel.

And they won’t always tell you, you know, the right way to solve the problem, sometimes express a desire or wish that if you actually built it, you know as well as I do as a software founder that they won’t use that or you’ll end up building features that don’t really matter. So you have to use discernment and you have to use some kind of thinking and then innovate and design to make sure that you get to the root of the problems that really do make a difference and really to help you to improve your product so that you can get more users and grow.

Peter Loving

Peter helps SaaS companies create meaningful products users love. He regularly speaks at conferences and shares UI/UX related content on the UserActive blog and YouTube channel.

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