Barbara Miotto - Conducting user interviews                

Conducting interviews
with users

Barbara Miotto, 18 of March 2018
This post was originally published byUX Collective BR

In the conception of a user-centered design project, it is necessary to become part of the world in which these people live, to know their problems closely and what are the possibilities inserted in their own daily lives.

According to "Design Kit" - a material offered by — a reference company in the segment of product development and methodologies focused on creating solutions for complex problems, using the designer's way of thinking (design thinking) - the designer must learn directly from real inputs, experiences and use empathy as a tool to approach a divergent reality.

After choosing a challenge to be worked on, a phase called the “Inspiration Phase” begins. At this point, the main objective is to explore the social and structural context on which the project will be based. In this way, we bring clarity to the factors that will define and that make up the core of the problem to be solved.

The Inspiration Phase

We are human beings, with our own thoughts and experiences, which influence our personality, ideals and decisions. But when designing solutions for other groups, we must try to abstract these concepts, and open the mind to see reality as the other.

Collect thoughts:

- As a team, discuss the challenge. It must be refined, so that it is not so specific and also not so broad.

What do we know about this challenge?

- Explore all the knowledge accumulated on this topic to be worked on. The team can have valid experiences that can help in building a concept of what is already known about the project.

What don't know about this challenge?

- Seeking to map all doubts and points with no connection is a strategy that can assist in conducting experiences and interviews. These doubts, become points of attention and will bring more solid bases, coming from the contact with the users.

Review of barriers and limitations:

- Mapping all the limiting factors and barriers that can be encountered during the project can assist the development, so that factors that may hinder the implementation of solutions thought by the team are considered. Thus, this step helps to reduce the loss of time, efforts and resources, in products that would be doomed to failure due to the action of external factors. In addition, it helps to expand creativity to generate ideas that can combat these barriers.

To assist in the visual realization of this step of the project, I developed a simple canvas mentioned. During the definition session, the team can have the canvas in hand and distribute the information in post-its, explaining the thoughts out loud and discussing possible misalignments among the members.

canvas definicao do desafio

Challenge definition canvas - Bárbara Miotto

Learning from people

User-centered design depends on a humanist and empathy-based approach. By connecting with the people for whom we are designing solutions and immersing themselves in their realities, we collect essential inputs for generating ideas and making decisions.

Defining an audience

Before immersing yourself in research, it is important to remember who the people for whom the project is being developed are. Who are all parties involved in the process and how can they benefit from the proposed solution?
    These are the people who should be interviewed.

Your user is an expert

There is no one better able to talk about your challenge than the people who deal with it in their routines. That is why the opinions and feelings expressed by people are so valuable. Try to know their realities and understand what happens in their lives, what their reactions and current solutions are and how they feel during the journey.

Extremes and medians

Seek the experiences of people who are part of a normal pattern of relationship with the theme of the challenge and also others who present extreme cases and outside the norm. The importance of non-standard cases is to provide inputs for scenarios not yet imagined.


Searching for the right people to talk to is also an important part of building an ideal search. Through the right people, we get the information needed for the project.

Setting a comfortable environment

Where, how and when will we talk to users?
Sometimes we can forget that we deal with real people and their stories. Therefore, a delicate and fundamental point is to develop a certain sensitivity to conduct the interviews and to propose an atmosphere of trust. The space is also connected to the process and can be, in addition to being a mediator between the interviewee and interviewer, also an inspiring factor to the topic and the situations that occur there.

In other contexts, activities can be proposed to enrich the experience and awaken other memories and help the user to show his thoughts, ideas and experiences.

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