Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tell a Story Rather Than Write Minutes Of A User Interview

I have spoken to tens of end users in the past few months about their workplace aspirations, challenges and problems. Some times I speak to them in person and some times over the phone. I always do this along with another colleague. One of us takes the lead on asking the questions and the other one writes down what he hears.

Rather than write my notes in a note book, I learned from @MChewD to write my notes with a thick pen, such as a Sharpie, on rectangular Post It notes while I am interviewing the person. When ever I identify a topic under which I can group the notes, I write the topic down on a Post It note with a thick Whiteboard marker.

If I am meeting the person face to face, I invite the person to walk over and see my Post Its and check If I captured their thoughts correctly.

After the interview, I collect the Post Its and go to our project room or my desk and paste the Post Its on the wall while sharing the story of the person we interviewed with my colleagues. If another colleague has taken down their notes on a Post It, they will post their notes on the wall as well.

This process almost always induces a conversation, about the person we interviewed, the main themes that emerged and the big takeaways from the interview. The beauty is that all this happens right after the interview without a formal meeting set up. In fact, we do this sometimes within a few minutes, in the time it takes to set up a meeting on Outlook.

Give it a try. Keep your note book and fine point pens away and use Post Its and Sharpies to capture your interview notes.

I follow different research principles, when I visit customers and talk to a group of people.
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