One big thing that I had to learn to do as a UX/product designer was to talk to potential users. Only when you speak to users can you have real empathy. As someone who is quiet this was a challenging thing to do. You can read all of the books but the only way to get good at it is to do it. It can be scary but with the right preparation things will be fine.
A good preparation will help you know what your goal is when you are talking to people and what words to say. Good questions are more than words — good questions begin with intent. This is a great blog article from Chris How at the Unit about “How to get better answers from better questions”
Here are a few things that I have picked up on the skill of user interviews:
- You are there moderating. This means you are asking questions, listening and observing the user. Your goal is to remain impartial so there is no need to say “awesome” to each answer.
- If you can get someone to take notes for you — do it! You want to focus on the interview rather than juggling multiple things at once
- Avoid leading questions. It is tempting to help the user along or suggest the right path but avoid it. In the real world you won’t be there to help them. Embrace the struggle.
- Yes/no questions. A no could kill the flow of the interview will be like running into a brick wall. The goal is to get the user to start telling stories and details of their experience.
- Focus on the their experience. When users answer with a phrase like “If I was this type of person, I would do this…” indicates that they are using their imagination rather than actual experience. Try to bring the user back to their own experiences when you hear this
- What and how? This is the most useful tip I received on how to form questions. If you want to avoid leading or yes/no questions, try to start those questions with “what” or “how”. Check out the examples below:
- “Do you have a phone?” vs. “How do you keep in contact with people?”
- “Have you ever had problems getting a cab?” vs. “What was your experience like when you had to get a cab?”
Keep exploring, keep asking questions!