Last set of people to consider for a user interview

Conducting user interviews? Wary off from this set of people.


Harshit Daga

3 years ago | 3 min read

“Users are not always logical, at least not on the surface. To be a great designer you need to look a little deeper into how people think and act.”
— Paul Boag

UX Research is the quintessential part of the UX process. It reinforces the principles and also structures the problem statement for the complete process ahead. Interviewing your users is one of the proven research methods to imbibe empathy with your target group.

Young UX researchers or designers looking to start with user interviews often find themselves surrounded by the following questions — Who? And why or why not?

If you are starting with your first project for a generic audience, users that you can get up for user interviews are your friends, family, social network connections, etc. Though choosing family/friends is not advisable (due to their not so genuine reaction towards you as you are family), but works quite well for setting out the premise for your first project’s problem statement.

But there is one particular set of people that you should try to avoid in your earlier stages — UX Designers.

Why to reconsider?

Perfect for guidance, not quite perfect for an interview

We as UX designers are good at being the guide and mentoring some people on how to do certain things, but our strong point often becomes our most common weakness— our perception towards things. So when I ask “What are the most common applications that you use for socializing and why?”, I need to know the inner motivations, not your expertise in the subject when you say “You see, it has very captivating UI, story feature allows emotion building, maybe that’s why I love it.”

We need opinions and insights to start, not solutions

User interviews are done to get better insights and opinions on how the user thinks & reacts so that we can further synthesize this data into a better problem statement and hence look around for various plausible solutions to the problem.

UX designer interviewee jumps right from the first stage to the last stage because they think they can, with the knowledge they have. But experience or knowledge is not proportionate to the understanding of how a user thinks; only interviewing the user is.

Proving the point

“…and that is why this is right” statements can be fatal for your product before doing research. Save this part for after the research when you have collected all the data to prove your point. UX designers tend to consider themselves as a know-it-all (me writing this article is an example) which could be hazardous for user interviews.

Everything vanishes when reality strikes

We can have hour-long video calls on “How users are the centerpiece of designing a product” but still we can never interview keeping ourselves in the shoe of a user. We are good at producing the storyboards after collecting data, but how can we possibly change the attitude of critically analyzing, presenting views, and solving problems from your grown mind?

Interviewing is a critical part of any UX process, and hence one should look into it more pragmatically. But I agree, there will be times when you might have to interview UX designers. You can keep the following points in mind to get better insights and results from your interview.

  1. Make a list of questions that you need to ask. Crisp and clear.
  2. Humbly asking the user to answer the question without thinking about any judgment from your side. Also, ask them for permission before recording audio or video of the process.
  3. Follow the “5 why’s” technique to get into the real reason. The reason which is beneath the reason that “they think there is” and what “it actually is”.
  4. Make sure you do not deviate from the topic and start talking about Steve Jobs, Design thinking, NN group, and likes of these ever-engaging topics.
  5. Listen to them, but keep your judgment hat on, to sift through the opinions you think are heavily influenced due to their design background.

As a concluding statement, I would love to say that please make sure you are true to your research and you know that you are developing the right product for the right target audience.

You can test it by asking a senior or fellow UX designer to review your research and see if you can answer every question that they ask of. You see every piece fits the puzzle, just at the right place.


Created by

Harshit Daga







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