User Interview

Interviews give insights into what users think about a site, an application, a product, or a process. They can point out what site content is memorable, what people feel is important on the site, and what ideas for improvement they may have.

A user interview is a UX research method in which a researcher asks one user questions about a topic of interest (e.g., system use, behaviors, and habits) with the goal of learning about that topic.

User interviews are typically performed with a design’s potential users as part of an ideation phase or during early concept development. They follow a structured methodology in which the interviewer prepares a number of topics to cover, records what is said in the interview, and systematically analyzes the conversation after the interview.

Unlike Focus Groups, which involve multiple users simultaneously, user interviews are one-on-one sessions (although occasionally, several facilitators may take turns asking questions).

UX Interviews are quick and easy to collect user data, so they are often used, especially in Lean and Agile environments. They are closely related to journalistic interviews and to the somewhat narrower and more formal HCI method called the critical incident technique, which was introduced in 1954 by John Flanagan.

Although you may feel that doing a UX user interview is simple, there is more to a good interview than many people realize.

User interviews can be done in a variety of situations:

  • Before you have a design, inform Personas, Customer Journey Mapping, feature ideas, workflow ideas
  • To enrich a contextual inquiry study by supplementing observation with descriptions of tools, processes, bottlenecks, and how users perceive them
  • At the end of a usability test to collect verbal responses related to observed behaviors
    • (Do defer the interview until after the behavioral observation segment of the usability study: if you ask questions before the participant tries to perform tasks with your design, you will have primed the user to pay special attention to whatever features or issues you asked about.)