An interview is a structured research activity where a researcher asks questions of an individual in order to learn about a new design space, or gain clarification about existing knowledge. A researcher will devise a set of quantitative and qualitative questions which are asked to participants ideally in a controlled environment. There are variations in the format and type, and researchers may vary the tools (oral answers to questions, written surveys, Likert scale vs. open-ended, quantified data versus qualitative data) depending on the research objectives and the person being interviewed. Interview transcripts can be generated and analyzed afterwards to make meaning and inform design interventions. The total number of interviews can vary (see ‘How many qualitative interviews is enough?’ for in-depth discussion), as can the type - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation categorizes them as structured, semi-structured, unstructured, informal and focus groups; Dr. Mary Stokrocki at ASU categorizes them by ‘topical oral history, life history, evaluation interview, focus group interview, and cultural interviews’). Rubin and Rubin have variations on how they interview (i.e. ‘responsive interviewing’ or changing questions in response to the interview rather than having a set of questions you stick closely to). Regardless of format and variety, interviews remain a key research activity for creating people-centered design work.





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Reframer is software to make the user research process easier.

If you record your interviews, you can get transcripts from companies like Verbalink - but still no replacement for going through pages of material to make meaning. See longer discussion on IxDA forum.



Kuniavsky, Mike. Observing the User Experience : A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research. Burlington, MA, USA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2003. Accessed September 17, 2015. ProQuest ebrary.
Although there’s a small amount devoted to interviews, this book does go into common problems that occur in interviews and approaches to use to avoid them and address them when they happen in interviews.

Portigal, Steve. Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights. New York, NY, USA: Rosenfeld Media, 2013.
Geared for UX and product design work, this short book contains very practical advice for both beginners and more experienced practitioners, and also addresses the entire process from start to finish from an ethnographic point of view.

Rubin Herbert J. Qualitative interviewing: the art of hearing data. Los Angeles, CA, USA: SAGE Publishing, 2012. Accessed September 17, 2015. ProQuest ebrary.
A classic ethnographic research book, this is an excellent book for a more in-depth understanding about what kind of questions to ask and how to make meaningful analysis especially for longer research projects and professional work. The book comes more from a social sciences perspective.

Vogt, W. Paul, Gardner, Dianne C., and Haeffele, Lynne M.. 2012. When to Use What Research Design. New York, NY, USA: Guilford Press. Accessed September 17, 2015. ProQuest ebrary
Another title geared for more advanced practioners with more of a social sciences perspective, the section on surveys versus interviews is illuminating, as is the sections on recruiting for interviews and what types of questions to ask.