Data-Driven Design: User Interviews

Data-Driven Design: User Interviews

Data-driven design can be defined as design that is supported and reinforced by real data. Using this method can help a business understand its target market more effectively. It can also reveal various challenges and uncover new opportunities, adding a new layer of impartiality to your process. When we neglect to consider data in design, it can have serious implications on the success of a project. We cannot exclusively trust our gut or only rely on best practices when making design decisions; data-driven exploration should always be implemented. Shareholders care about numbers, if we give them real data with real findings, they are more likely to trust the design. 

“Companies in the top third of their industry in the use of data-driven decision making were, on average, 5 percent more productive and 6 percent more profitable than their competitors.”
Research by MIT’s Centre for Digital Business 

Collecting data in user research

In user research, there are many ways of collecting data for our designs, for example, one could utilise focus groups, create personas, conduct real user surveys, or even carry out a heuristic analysis. One of the methodologies we've adopted here at Amazee Labs is user interviews.

User interviews are the most frequently used approaches in user research, covering almost all user-related themes. The process collects information on the user’s feelings and motivations; we can also observe how they engage with a particular product or platform. User interviews are generally conducted in the initial stages of a design project, often performed in the ideation or conceptual phases. These interviews are usually structured so that a number of topics are covered; a record of the interview is made, and the conversation is evaluated after the session. 

When we conduct user interviews, it’s important to engage in a planned process, so we’ve outlined our process in two steps.

Step one: Set your goals 

It’s important to be clear beforehand as to what you would like to achieve with this interview. Set yourself one to three concrete goals. For example, I need to find out what specific problems and concerns the people in my target group have so that I can better tailor my product.

Step two: Prepare an interview script

There are four components to an interview, these are listed below. It’s important to create a suitable storyline with your interview questions. It helps a lot to create a script including a list of questions. This way you can work through that list and concentrate better on your user and the conversation. This preparation will also ensure the results from several interviews are more comparable later on.
Now we move on to the interview itself, listing the four components.

Conducting an interview

1. Briefing

The goal of the briefing is to make your user feel comfortable and confident; a simple greeting, thanking them for their time, and showing interest/excitement will help your interviewee open up. It’s important to remember to really listen to the user; consider that you are learning from them and that there are no wrong answers.

2. Pre-session interview

There should be three to five initial interview questions; these introductory questions should be easy to answer. You can ask about the user’s background, what they do for a living and other personal experiences; these questions are asked to make the user feel comfortable and confident — first impressions are important. For example, you could ask ‘How often do you use the internet?’

3. Asking the big questions

When asking questions in an interview, we should use the 5 Whys Technique. This will allow us to get to the root of the answer more effectively. The 5 Whys Technique is simple: you ask a question, then you ask four more times, but in a different way. Your initial question starts off broad, your last question is very precise, focussing on the issue specifically. In other words, you build a series of questions around a specific topic and change them up. That way the topic is approached from a variety of perspectives. Be curious, ask ‘why’ and ‘for what reason’; keep asking until you’ve covered the topic in depth. When effective, you can bring the deeper needs, problems, challenges, and motivations to the surface.

4. Post-session conversation

After asking the main questions, it’s important to gauge the feeling surrounding the interview. Ask the user for their opinions and make sure to voice how important their participation has been. Thank the user for their time and discuss a further follow-up. This will help to clarify whether you can approach this user again if necessary.

These simple interview tactics are easy to employ and will empower your designers with the data they need to create real solutions for real user issues and to refine user experience with an informed experience design that will boost the productivity of your site. 

Not sure what your users really think about your website? Let’s ask them

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