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Our Primary User Research Method

I’ve wrote about the importance of user research and the different methods, but I want to dive into my favorite and the method I’m using to get Hack It Hour on the right track towards building a product for designers and developers.

Gathering User Information

The most valuable information you can gather from your users is spoken directly from them. Surveys, checkbox feedback, yes or no questions are all effective methods of getting information, but they lack humanity. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use the above methods, but you should know when to use what method for what kind of information, which brings me to why I chose the individual interview method.

The Individual Interview (The what)

Simply put, an individual interview is a 30–45 minute conversation with a user. You should choose someone who understands and represents your company in a professional, enthusiastic manner to conduct your interviews, because if you’re interviewer isn’t engaging, enthusiastic, a great listener, and an encyclopedia to your company, your user will not have the best possible experience which will most likely result in poor feedback.

I know the most about Hack It Hour and I’m personally invested, so I’m personally conducting all of Hack It Hour’s interviews.

Interview Personas (The who)

Before considering how to conduct your interviews, you must define the personas you’re targeting. For example, you don’t want to interview adult women for a product meant for teen women.

I know I want to target junior to intermediate web designers and developers between the ages of 20 and 35; however, we are also slightly interested in interviewing a few experts to get their enlightened and experienced opinion.

When to Conduct Interviews (The when)

If you’re considering individual interviews, you should find yourself in one of following situations:

  1. Defining or reviewing your objectives and goals
  2. Struggling to understand or define an specific user or product problem
  3. Want a deeper understanding of users’ answers to the above, less-human methods of information gathering
  4. Looking to reach new people, markets, or regions

I’m reviewing my goals and objectives while gaining a better understanding of who my users are before I begin my development cycle.

Where to Conduct Interviews (The where)

User research is your users forfeiting their time and effort to better your product, or your service. You should treat them kindly, with respect, and accommodate them on their own grounds and time, which means interview them when and where it’s best for them.

I’m conducting 100% of my interviews online via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Google Hangouts. I’ve offered my interviewees complete freedom in choosing the time and place of the interview, which ranges from a text chat to an email to a video chat.

Instagram direct message to Loan Laux
Interview pitch to Loan Laux including a typo

Why Individual Interviews (The why)

I chose to speak directly to my users, because I value human intelligence and experience. These are two things that are really difficult to gather accurately and in detail, because they’re human.

For example, you wouldn’t use a softball to test a baseball player’s hitting power, so don’t ask for human information with non-human asking methods.

I can’t wait to share with you the response and insight I’ve gained since beginning this series. My interviews have been awesome, inspiring, authenticating, and just down right enjoyable. I’ve had side conversations with everyone I’ve interviewed and I hope I can pay them back in the future.

How to Copy and Paste (The how)

Here is what I did:

  1. I wrote a personal message:
Written message in notes to copy and paste to different designers and developers
Note of the message I sent to designers and developers

I have to admit that I felt like I was soliciting, but I just didn’t have time to build authentic, organic relationships with 50+ designers and developers in 22 days. So, yes, I spammed this to anyone that I could quickly research as credible and passionate.

  1. I used #webdesign to research the best hashtags to find designers and developers.

What I found was that the more dominant industry related tags were: #design, #webdesign, #website, #freelance, #ux, and #javascript.

  1. I downloaded TweetDeck and created columns for the dominant tags and watched for humans, not organizations, tweeting about something industry related.
  2. I spammed. Well, I was personal about it by surrounding my message in step #1 with a short intro and then a personal little tid bit after the message to help them feel like a real person was reaching out to them.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this article. You can follow my newsletter below so you won't miss a post! Thanks, gents!

You can find me at @chrisjohnsoct on Twitter!

It’s a goal of mine to be the best UX strategist and frontend developer in the world. Will I be the best? I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell going to share my journey with the world, and this post has been apart of that.

Chris Johnson, CEO of Hack It Hour, UX strategist, and frontend surgeon

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