Prepare yourself for an interview with your users
Nondirected Interviews: How to Get More Out of Your Research Questions, July 2002
Face to Face With Your Users: Running a Nondirected Interview, January 2003
by Mike Kuniavsky
= must have
Talking to your users is indispensable when you want to develop a usable interface. You need to talk to them before you start with anything in order to find out what they need and you need to talk to them in the development phase to see what has to be refined and improved. Mike Kuniavsky has written two valuable essays on preparing and conducting "nondirected" interviews with users.
The essay Nondirected Interviews: How to Get More Out of Your Research Questions deals with how to design appropriate questions for an interview. Kuniavsky offers five practical guidelines "to help you frame questions in a way that elicits honest and accurate responses".
In the essay Face to Face With Your Users: Running a Nondirected Interview Kuniavsky focuses on actual interviewing techniques and provides 10 Guidelines "for how to ask questions that will limit (though likely never eliminate) bias".
I have already learned a lot about questionnaire design and interviewing techniques at university. Nevertheless, I find these two essays extremely valuable, because they concisely summarize the most important points to keep in mind and provide vivid and relevant application examples.
I think they can serve as excellent checklists when you are preparing yourself for an interview with your users, no matter if it is your first or you fiftieth interview.
Mike Kuniavsky will publish a book about user research techniques in April 2003.
If you are interested in learning about actual design techniques that can be applied during interface development, you should have a look on our review about Wireframing Techniques for Web Page Design.
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