Choosing the right people for your user interviews


Before we begin, I want to say that you should never turn to friends or family for UX or product feedback. I know that talking to them is better than nothing, but honestly, they tend to say you what you want to hear. And we all know how disastrous that can be during the validation process.

Alright, let’s get started.

Identifying the right research participants boils down to filtering. You must filter, filter, and filter some more. (Hey, if you’re going to talk to only five or six people, then you need to make sure they’re the right people.) I like to approach this by answering the following questions:

  1. 1. Who do I want to talk to? (for example – amateur photographers)
  2. 2. What are their ideal demographic and psychographic characteristics?
  3. 3. What questions will I ask to make sure they meet the criteria?
  4. 4. Who do I NOT want to talk to? (for example – anyone who is unemployed or under the age of 18… no offense)
  5. 5. What will I do to exclude the No’s?

How you approach and organize your answers depends on how you like to work, the scope of your project, and the size of your team. You can play it loose by mind-mapping it on a piece of paper, or run it tight through a shareable spreadsheet. I like to answer the questions at the whiteboard with sticky notes and dry erase markers, then transfer the information to a spreadsheet or Google doc. Though I tend to adjust my process to match the specific needs and characteristics of a particular project.

I know this feels overwhelming. But look at it this way… If you nail this, then you will validate after talking to only five or six people. As in you can be done with your interviews in a day! Or two! Yes!

Until next time,

Conversation by Ashish Jain used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

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