User interviews are typically performed with the potential users of a design, as part of an ideation phase or during early concept development. User interviews follow a structured methodology whereby the interviewer prepares a number of topics to cover, makes a record of what is said in the interview, and systematically analyzes the conversation after the interview.
User interviews are one of the most commonly used methods in user research. They can cover almost all user-related topics and be used, for example, to gather information on users’ feelings, motivations and daily routines, or how they use various products. The interviews often follow the same methodology as qualitative interviews in other fields, but with the specific purpose of informing a design project. Because user interviews typically have to fit into a design or development process, practical concerns such as limited time or resources often play a role when deciding how to carry out such interviews. For instance, user interviews can be conducted over a video or voice call if time is restricted. On the other hand, in projects with sufficient time and resources, an interview may be conducted in the user’s home, and designers might even be flown overseas if the users reside in another country.
Get your free template for “How to Structure a User Interview”
While many interview methods used in design projects are borrowed from other fields such as ethnography and psychology, some have been created specifically for use in design contexts. An example is contextual interviews that take place in the participants’ everyday environment. Contextual interviews have the advantage of providing more insights relating to the environment in which a design will be used. As such, a contextual interview might uncover flaws within a product’s design (e.g., the product is too heavy to be carried around the house by the user) that a normal user interview might not.
User interviews can be used for many stages of user research from ideation through to usability testing. Conducting a user interview is simply a question of choosing the right user or users to interview, asking them a series of pre-determined questions (or free-form questions if used following an observation) and then reporting on their answers to enable further decision making.
Get your free template for “How to Conduct an Interview with Empathy”
Literature on User Interviews
Here’s the entire UX literature on
User Interviews by
the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
How do you plan to design a product or service that your users will love, if you don't know what they want in the first place? As a user experience designer, you shouldn't leave it to chance to design something outstanding; you should make the effort to understand your users and build on that knowledge from the outset. User research is the way to do this, and it can therefore be thought of as the largest part of user experience design.
In fact, user research is often the first step of a UX design process—after all, you cannot begin to design a product or service without first understanding what your users want! As you gain the skills required, and learn about the best practices in user research, you’ll get first-hand knowledge of your users and be able to design the optimal product—one that’s truly relevant for your users and, subsequently, outperforms your competitors’.
This course will give you insights into the most essential qualitative research methods around and will teach you how to put them into practice in your design work. You’ll also have the opportunity to embark on three practical projects where you can apply what you’ve learned to carry out user research in the real world. You’ll learn details about how to plan user research projects and fit them into your own work processes in a way that maximizes the impact your research can have on your designs. On top of that, you’ll gain practice with different methods that will help you analyze the results of your research and communicate your findings to your clients and stakeholders—workshops, user journeys and personas, just to name a few!
By the end of the course, you’ll have not only a Course Certificate but also three case studies to add to your portfolio. And remember, a portfolio with engaging case studies is invaluable if you are looking to break into a career in UX design or user research!
We believe you should learn from the best, so we’ve gathered a team of experts to help teach this course alongside our own course instructors. That means you’ll meet a new instructor in each of the lessons on research methods who is an expert in their field—we hope you enjoy what they have in store for you!