Interview people

Help participants ask the right questions when they meet the people who'll use their products.

Discover: Build Empathy
30 mins
120 mins

Interview people

Help participants ask the right questions when they meet the people who'll use their products.

30 mins
120 mins

What is it

Participants can tend to fall into the trap of designing for themselves or for an "average user." Since real people have different needs and challenges it's important to talk to them, ask the right questions and test hypotheses to create more meaningful digital prototypes.

This tool will help participants formalise the topics, questions and activities required to conduct interviews. These can be impromptu street intercept interviews or through pre-arranged interviews in an office environment.

How to do it

1 Prepare the materials

Download, print and distribute copies of the Interview guide ↓.

2 Introduce the guide

Explain the purpose of the exercise and introduce the template. Walk the participants though the following three sections before they begin filling it out:

  • Person - a brief description of the person you want to interview
  • Topics - themes to cover in the conversation
  • Questions - sample questions you would ask within the related topics Interview guide
3 Describe the person

Ask participants to think of different actors in a service (e.g. within ride-hailing, there are passengers, drivers, service providers, etc.) or segments within a user base (e.g. social media users can be segmented into teenagers, millennials, non-digital natives, etc.). Instruct participants to write the description of their chosen person on the left side of the template. Ask them to be as specific as possible.

4 Consider topics to explore

For each person, write in the top section the topics you wish to explore that are relevant to your Jam challenge. Start with easy topics to break the ice, such as hobbies and interests, then add more sensitive topics towards the end. For example, if you're working on a banking-related solution, establish rapport before asking about financial information.

5 Develop questions

Focus on fleshing out real stories. Consider the following guidelines:

  • Ask open-ended questions - "How do you feel when you encounter X kind of consent notice?"
  • Ask people to share stories - "Tell me about the last time you changed your privacy settings?"
  • Don't ask closed questions - "Do you feel scared when the service tells you about their use of your personal data?"
  • Don't ask hypothetical questions - "Would you like a service that could tell you what kind of information it is using and when?"
6 Prepare for the interview

Ask participants to pair up for their interviews, so that one could conduct the interview while the other captures notes. Seek permission first if you're planning to record the interview.

7 Run the interview

Introduce yourself and your note-taker. Be open and transparent about the purpose of the interview (e.g. "We'd like to know how you feel about a delivery service and how they use location data."). Make people feel comfortable. Mention that there are no right or wrong answers. Make it a conversation, not an interrogation.

8 Synthesise the interview

Each pair should review their interview notes and write key takeaways on Post-it notes as soon after the interview as possible. Ask them to note any implications for the digital solution (e.g. missing features) as well as any assumptions that were confirmed or invalidated.

Then, ask participants to share with other participants, to cluster into themes and to draw insights from their key takeaways. Keep the takeaways visible throughout the Jam to aid with ideation and prototyping.

What you will need

  • Pens

  • Post-it notes

  • Notebook

  • Clipboards

Download the materials used in this tool

This tool and any associated downloadable assets are provided under a

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike CC BY-SA 4.0 International License.

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