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Interviewing explore

Talk to users to find out what their needs are so you can build a product they'll love.


  • Video conferencing app
  • Screensharing app
  • Collaborative text editor

Why do it:

Interviewing is how you get data to later create personas. It also helps you collect requirements and challenge your own biases about what your users need.

When to do it:

Interviewing is helpful before every milestone in your project.

Who’s involved:

Find stakeholders and a few key types of users who will be interacting with your project. For example, these can be users of a web application, admin level maintainers of the application, and developer level maintainers.

Time estimate:

Small (1 - 2 hours); this could go much longer, so be conscious of the clock.

One way to do it:

  1. Invite participants and set aside at least an hour for the interviewee. Your set up for the interview will depend on why you are interviewing stakeholders or users. Many interviews can be done via a phone call, video call or screenshare application, so plan to communicate your methods in advance to anyone invited to the conversation. Whom you invite and how many interviews you should have will also depend on your reasons behind interviewing. For each interview, you should have at least two participants (a designer and an engineer for example) in attendance so that one person can act as the interviewer and the other can act as the notetaker.

  2. Think through your questions in advance of your conversation. What do you want to know? Basically you want to come away knowing what problem will need to solve and who that’s a problem for. Identify any assumptions that you might have going into the interviews and document them in a text document (Google Docs, Etherpad, or even GitHub) to refer to after the interviews. Considering that you might be using the interviews to develop other artifacts such as personas, any kind of contextual information about the interviewee might be relevant. Set up the conversation by starting with some icebreaker questions and then let the conversation play out organically. This might include:

    • How‘s the weather by you?
    • Did you catch the game last night?
  3. At the beginning of the conversation explain why you are conducting the interview. Try to remain as unbiased as possible so as to not influence the interviewees feedback.

  4. Conduct the interview, while remaining mindful of the time. Some general tips:

    • Don’t ask yes/no questions.
    • Don’t ask potential users how they would solve the problem, work with them to identify it.
    • Do keep it casual.
    • Do try to get to know the person.
  5. After the interview, meet with your project team to discuss how the interviews went. Did you find out anything that went against your original assumptions? Did you find out anything surprising? Some people might find it helpful to take notes in a shared document.


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