Monday, January 30, 2023

How To Synthesize User Interviews

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You can miss a lot of key information if you dont ask basic questions. This often happens because you assume you already know the answer.

Also, basic questions are a great way to ease a person into an interview. I tend to start every user interview with basic questions that a user doesnt have to think much about. This will get them talking and comfortable. And, hey, maybe Ill learn something I didnt know before.

For instance, we start user interviews with a question like, What does your organization do and how does your role fit in there?

I largely know the answers to these two questions, but Ill often learn additional details and nuance that I didnt already know. This may come in handy for follow-up questions or when Im putting together the user scenario. Its also an easy question for anyone to answer, helping to make them more comfortable.

Who Should You Interview

The goal of a customer interview is to learn about your target prospect, customer, or user. Who youll want to interview will depend on your product.

If you work on a subscription product and your team is responsible for retention, you probably want to talk with both engaged and unengaged customers . You might also want to talk with customers who recently canceled their subscription.

If you work on a B2B product, you have both customers and users. If your company is small and your team works on satisfying both customers and users, then youll need to interview both. As companies grow, they tend to have teams focus on one vs. the other, in which case, each team would interview their own target customer.

If you work on a B2B2C product, then you might have business customers, business users, and consumers. You might need to interview all of these folks, but as your company grows, your team will likely focus on just one of these audiences, while other teams focus on the others.

If you work on a two-sided marketplace, then you might need to talk to buyers and sellers. But again, as your company grows, your team will likely focus on one vs. the other.

If you work at an early-stage startup and you dont have any customers yet, then you need to talk to prospects. If you dont have any prospects, then you need to interview people who match your ideal customer profile.

If you work on a platform team building services for other teams, then your customers are those other teams.

Make Note Of The Questions That Dont Work

Some questions are duds. They may not elicit much information. Other questions just confuse people. Occasionally you may have a questions that causes people to react negatively.

Even if you commit to not swapping out a user interview question during a round of user interviewing, you should make note of which of your questions dont work so that you can make sure not to use them in future user research.

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User Interview Analysis: A Step By Step Guide

Job interview in English

Let us now start analyzing our research data.

First and foremost, you should always know the importance of good note-taking. Why? Because well documented notes and data is the basis of a good analysis.

Make it a habit to consistently document all interviews. When it comes to working collaboratively with stakeholders, make sure that you are able to block sufficient time in their calendars and inform them up front about what to expect.

There are three steps involved in data analysis:

1. Familiarize with the data

2. Synthesize

3. Convert findings into output

Step 1: Familiarize with the data

The first step goal is to prepare you to connect and get the data into the short-term memory. This is like loading information into a computer and work with the loaded data.

In practical terms, this means carefully reading the interview notes. We recommend that you also get the other team members involved in the interview phase to take notes.

To make the familiarization into a team activity, assign each stakeholder to a participant, let them read through the respective notes, and present themselves from their assigned participants perspective to the team.

Make sure you take time to discuss each participant with the team. Expect there are usually more interviewees than team members, thus repeating this multiple times is recommended.

Step 2: Synthesize

Techniques to analyze user interview data
Structure data into themes
Use segmentation to reveal underlying patterns

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Quicker Ux Research Synthesis

Its hard to take action on your research without synthesizing your research insights into higher-level themes.

Synthesis is sitting down after research to ask the question:

What do we now know to be true?

Without synthesizing your insights into higher-level themes, its hard to take action on your research.

When you think of synthesis, scenes of messy whiteboards and sticky notes may come to mind. This doesnt have to be a disorganized week-long war room. Ive synthesized 10-minute usability tests to months-long market research and learned a lot along the way.

Here are some ways Ive found to cut down on the time it takes to synthesize without limiting my research outcomes.

Why Are Some People Worried About Chatgpt

People are expressing concerns about AI chatbots replacing or atrophying human intelligence. For example, the chatbot can write an article on any topic efficiently within seconds, potentially eliminating the need for a human writer. The chatbot can also write an entire full essay within seconds, making it easier for students to cheat or avoid learning how to write properly.

Another concern with the AI chatbot is the possible spread of misinformation. Since the bot is not connected to the internet, it could make mistakes in what information it shares. The bot itself says, “My responses are not intended to be taken as fact, and I always encourage people to verify any information they receive from me or any other source.” OpenAI itself also notes that ChatGPT sometimes writes “plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.”

Also: We will see a completely new type of computer, says AI pioneer Geoff Hinton

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Should You Talk To The Same Customer Over And Over Again Or Always Different Customers

When you are new to interviewing, I recommend talking to a wide variety of people. Our goal with qualitative research is to uncover the variation in our customers experience. The more people we talk to, the more variation we uncover.

However, when we talk to the same customer over time, we learn about a depth of experience that we simply cant get from a single conversation. We also learn how a customers goals, needs, and context change over time.

I recommend you first build your weekly habit of interviewing different customers each week. Once thats a stable habit, then Id look at identifying a few different customers who are interested in engaging with you over time and mix this in.

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Limitations Of Moderated User Research

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While moderated sessions are a great research tool, there are some downsides to consider.

Moderated interviews are often more expensive than other usability testing techniques since participants expect higher incentives due to the longer session length and the additional effort required to conduct the sessions.

Coordinating schedules is tedious for both researchers and participants. Also, youll have to arrange a conference room for in-person research.

Its important to consider the observer effect when deciding which type of research to use. The observer effect is when users have the tendency to act differently when they are being watched. Whereas, inunmoderated research, a participant may not feel as much pressure to answer in a certain way, because theyre not being watching live.

Often researchers feel inclined to justify or explain their solution. When participants ask you a question, try not to give the answer away immediately. If participants ask you how does this work? you can respond with how do you think it works?. This way, they will tell you what they expect, and you can get valuable insights into what theyre thinking.

General FAQs

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Get Comfortable With Awkward Silences

Donât rush the participant. Once they finish speaking, let their response hang in the air for several seconds longer than feels comfortable . Eventually, many participants will fill that silence themselves by expanding on their response. If they donât, you know youâve given them enough time to answer thoroughly and can move on.

Know When To Use Workshops

Workshops can be most useful when you need to synthesize a large mass of research. While we generally try to avoid meetings unless necessary, Jordan is a fan of workshops when done correctly. They can be a very efficient use of time and help plow through lots of data as a group.

We have a list of recommended workshops activities if youre looking for ideas, but your workshops dont need to be complicated. You could create something as simple as an affinity diagram.

Workshops can be helpful when working with people who arent well-versed in the art of synthesis. This can be an abstract process for newcomers, so workshops give them tangible activities to guide them through it.

Soon after joining a startup, I found that several people across multiple departments already had the customer insights I needed. Unfortunately, it wasnt documented anywhere. I ran a quick workshop with these teammates to prioritize various ideas and draw insights out of each of them. The workshop quickly revealed multiple years of customer insights from 5 people in a little over an hour. In a way, we were synthesizing research that hadnt previously been handled this way.

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Create A Comfortable Environment For The Users

When people are relaxed, they are more likely to build a greater connection and trust with the interviewer and therefore will be more willing to talk openly and honestly. This type of dynamic delivers the best results in user interviews. A comfortable environment can be created in various ways. Start with unrelated, easy to talk about questions about the interviewees daily life, for example, to ease into a natural conversation. Then transition to questions related to obtaining your goal. What are the interviewees desires and dislikes about the product design? Next, return to rapport with questions about their interests, hobbies, and demographics. This will lighten the conversation and also provide you with additional context and information to identify any possible patterns that could be useful to consider for your design.

Ask Clarifying Followup Questions

The Carbon Five Guide to User Research: Interview Synthesis

Play dumb. Donât be shy about asking questions that seem obvious, or that you think you know the answer to. For instance, if someone says âI really hate wineâ you might ask them âwhat do you mean by that?â They might then go on to say âI mean I donât like that it gives me headaches. I actually used to love drinking red wine with dinner, but itâs not worth the agonizing hangovers.â

In another example, if someone from Boston is talking about their habits and says âI go to Harvard often,â ask them to clarify if they mean Harvard Square, the metro stop, or the universityâor something else entirely.

You can also ask people to perform tasks by sharing their screen, or by describing the action: âCan you show/describe to me how you ?â

User Researcher Nikki Anderson shared that she frames interview questions using the Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain, which explains how certain verbs can trigger particular thought processes:

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When To Implement User Interviews

User feedback is incredibly valuable. It can help advise the development of a products design in various stages of the design process. User interviews can be utilized in the following:

  • Before a design is created to enlighten product and workflow ideas
  • During the ideation phase of development to help inform the products purpose and usability
  • Throughout early concept development to collect and prioritize functional needs and challenges
  • Stage : Synthesize Findings

    Take stock of your current board. Its time to condense down the findings.

    Adjust, condense, and expand columns where necessary

    Scan over the columns. Check that the titles make sense and that they are not redundant with other column titles.

    • If a column still contains many cards, try to break it up into two or more columns.
    • If a column has only a few cards, see if it might be combined with another column.

    Going column by column:

    • Condense and check for redundancy across cards. Try to limit the number of cards in one column so that theres no need to scroll too much.
    • Finalize counting by double checking labeling
    • Check that columns represent the labels contained within. Rename columns where appropriate.

    Repeat steps 1-2 until satisfied

    Note on collaboration: if you can, sit side by side to digest down and agree on the research findings.

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    Moderator Guide Vs Script

    We purposely this set of questions a âdiscussion guideâ or âmoderator guideâ, rather than a âscriptâ.

    Thatâs because although its good to prepare a loose questionnaire to guide the interview, you should feel free to deviate from it when it makes sense. You donât want the interview to feel stiltedâyou want it to flow, and you want your interviewee comfortable. If the interview is taking a useful turn, follow it where it wants to go.

    For discovery interviews, where the scope of your inquiry might be quite broad, consider a list of topics in lieu of a questionnaire.

    If you identify a handful of larger topics youâd like to cover, and identify a handful of subtopic, youâve got yourself a nice loose guideline for an interview that wonât be overly confining.

    For example, say your area of interest is snacks . You might come up with larger topics like cookies, popcorn, charcuterie, and healthy snacks. And beneath each main topic, you might have a few subtopics. In the end, your list of topics might look like…

    • Cookies: gooey, crunchy, layered
    • Antipasto: meats, cheeses, olives, nuts
    • Fruits: fresh fruit, dried fruit, pureed fruit

    And you can use this list of presumptions as a guideline for understanding how, why, and what your interviewee looks for in a snack without locking yourself into a prescribed list of questions.

    Use A Ux Research Repository

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    A user research repository is a central storehouse for UX research data. Instead of keeping data in multiple places, you store and organize your research data in a way that is easily searchable and reusable in the future.

    The ease of organization and findability is a crucial feature of a research repository. It means you can apply past insight to future research, which speeds up the UX research process.

    Here are a few tips to make the best use of a UX research repository:

  • Appoint a library or repository owner A specific person should be in charge of running your research repository. If you have an in-house research department, they should handle the research repository.
  • Create an organizational system for your research projects Have a structure for organizing research data, so its easy to find.
  • Add labels to notes, observations, and feedback Label the data as you collect it in real-time. As a result, you speed up your analysis and build your research library simultaneously.
  • Develop Insights, nuggets, and findings Record what youve learned from the research. Explain the context. Use tags and supporting data to help your audience understand your research.
  • Group, search and share your Insights Grouping insights provides a system to quickly search and share relevant user research insights with stakeholders.
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    Unclear Goals For Ux Research

    Without setting clear goals for research, its easy to get carried away as you start collecting data. Since theres no structure, the resulting insight isnt what stakeholders want to see.

    When you lose focus with UX research, find the overlap between your research and what you should be exploring. Otherwise, you may have to repeat the UX research process.

    Some User Questions Can Result In Unreliable Insights

    One example is asking a user about his thoughts on how a product can be used in the future. The insights can be unreliable as it asks the user to speculate beyond their knowledge.

    The same can be said for design questions. You must understand that most of these users are not familiar with design processes so the responses are not accurate reasons why a design should be changed from one version to another.

    To avoid this scenario, it is important to conduct user observation by watching the users behavior with a designed solution. This will help UX researchers understand if the new design is working.

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    How To Understand And Design For The End

    How to understand and design for the end-user

    As consumers, we have our tried-and-true, reliable, and essential products that we use and rely on to enrich our lives and help us face and solve our daily challenges. They bring us joy, security, ease, and greater productivity. We also all know what its like to be frustrated by a product malfunction or absence of a component wed like it to include to truly meet our needs and desires that extra thing that would save us time, money or effort or increase our pleasure. The user experience is everything. Its why we continue or discontinue to purchase certain products. Thats why understanding it through user interviews and directly designing for it in the making of a product is essential to customers satisfaction and the products success.

    User interviews are an increasingly popular way to gather user feedback quickly and easily and include it in the design of your product. They specifically focus on learning user perception of the product or service, versus its usability. Unlike focus groups, which source opinions from multiple users at one time, user interviews are one-on-one sessions to get to know the users perspective deeply.

    If you dont talk to your customers, how will you know how to talk to your customers? Will Evans, Design Thinker in Residence at NYU Stern

    So when and how do you utilize user interviews? We break it down below:

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