What Is a User Interview?

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What is a user interview & what do we learn from them?

User interviews are one of the qualitative research methods used in product research and development to design or iterate on products sold to businesses or individual customers. That means B2B and B2C marketers as well as product teams are usually interested in the data received as a result of these interviews to shape their efforts.

UserInterviews.com writes,

“User interviews (also called in-depth interviews) are 30- to 60-minute conversations with a single participant, in which a researcher asks questions about a topic of interest to gain a deeper understanding of participants’ their attitudes, beliefs, desires and experiences.”

The skinny on user interviews:

🏆 From these short and sweet chats or also known as in-depth interviews, researchers can glean both attitudinal and behavioral information such as thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. This rich data can be informative and helpful to guide the direction of the development and design of products.

🏆 They can be conducted in person and online by using a platform such as Respondent.io or by simply using an app like Zoom so they can be easily performed.

🏆 User interviews are moderated and can either be semi-structured (more like a natural conversation with a predetermined direction) or structured (having a very specific script or question order).

❌ This method is not a great method for most quantitative data collection, as it is not as efficient as other forms of data collection such as surveys, questionnaires, or simply monitoring when a user interacts with your website or app.

What are the types of user interviews?
Generative Interviews – this method of user interview asks a question to test your hypothesis. It is concerned with what you don’t know yet but aim to understand. These tend to be structured interviews.
Contextual Interviews – a type of semi-structured interview that provides insight from users about the context in which they use your products. These meetings don’t feel as staged because they do not need to take place in a lab setting.
Continuous Interviews – this method of interviewing has you keep in touch with customers at regular intervals, such as every other week or monthly. They help you learn qualitative information over time.

And then what?

From user interviews, you can go on to understand both the evolution your product should take as well as the life philosophies of your customers to ensure you are serving them at a high level. This is why your interviews must be with participants from your customer pool that represent the customer avatars that are most valuable to your brand. The in-depth qualitative data you receive from these representative users will guide and shape your decisions for future iterations of your product and its new features.

Summary
User interviews are a qualitative research method used to discover the thoughts, desires, motivations, and feelings of your customers on a one-on-one basis. They can be performed once in a structured, semi-structured, or unstructured way. They can also occur at regular intervals allowing you to get more oriented with your customer’s in-depth thoughts and feelings. From the research, you are able to make design and development decisions that will ensure your products remain relevant and valuable to your customer or user base. Finally, recruiting the right participants is critical to getting valid data that represents your customers, otherwise, you may apply the opinions of the wrong people to your product direction, resulting in worse or surprising outcomes.

User interviews are one of many tools researches use to shape their products and answer questions or hypotheses they have regarding their products.

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