Some strategies to improve your qualitative research

Few weeks ago I had the chance to follow a prepared by some students of a design thinking class. I couldn’t but notice the challenges they faced in collecting valuable information from their users. To them and others who might be approaching for the first time this activity, here are some of the strategies I apply in my qualitative research process:

  1. While you are preparing the interview script, begin by writing a short paragraph that summarises why you are doing the interview, and what is your end goal. When the research is done over a long period of time it is easy to loose the track, and a generic introduction will come in handy when explaining the research to other people.
  2. Start the interview by introducing your research. The person in front of you needs to be acknowledged about your goals, this will contextualise the answers which will be more focused.
  3. The interview should revolve around some key activities. It is hard to recollect the minute details of an experience happened even few hours before, this is why you should gradually immerse the interviewee in a similar situation. Creating an activity that mimics the experience, even with low fidelity, and asking questions while they are immersed in it will give you much more insightful answers.
  4. Do not be afraid of breaking the interview sequence. Since this is a qualitative research, you should use your interview script as an overall guideline, and as soon as some promising information pops up, dive deep and ask more questions to explore it.
  5. Consider your interview script as a prototype. If after a while you feel that some parts of it are not working, there is nothing wrong with reframing a question or replacing it entirely with something else.
  6. Ask for feedback and suggestions. Just before closing the interview, try to gather some feedback whether something was confusing or hard to follow, you probably already noticed some critical parts but getting immediate feedback improves the research in the long run.

Doing user research is an extremely inspiring activity for a designer, in fast paced projects it is almost a luxury.. so don’t get stressed and have fun talking to your future users!

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