• Interview types
• Designing interview questions
• Focus groups (Customer research)
• Overview of guidelines for project stage 2: Customer
• Unstructured
– Are not directed by a script – exploratory
– But… plan main topics to be covered
– Uses open questions
• e.g. What are the advantages of touchscreens?
Pro: interviewees may mention issues interviewer
hasn’t considered
Cons: data heavy, not consistent across participants,
time consuming and difficult to analyze
Rich but not replicable
Not appropriate for your purposes
• Structured
• Are tightly scripted, often like a questionnaire
• Questions are short and clearly worded
• Closed questions
• e.g. How often do you visit the HCI class website:
everyday, once a week, once a month, less than once a
• Closed questions are good when range of possible
answers is known
• Standardized across participants
• Worded exactly the same for each participant
• Always asked in the same order
• Appropriate for your purposes
• Semi-structured
• Combo of structured and unstructured
• Guided by a script but interesting issues can be
explored in more depth
• Plan main topics – so same topics are covered with
each participant
• Start with open question followed by closed question
• OPEN: Tell me about the layout of the site <difficult to
• CLOSED: what would make it easier to use?
• **Must be careful that the question phrasing doesn’t
lead participant to a particular answer**
• e.g. You seemed to like the use of color
• Very appropriate for your purposes
Interview questions
• Two types:
− closed questions have a predetermined answer
format, e.g., ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ‘everyday’ or ‘once a week’
− open questions do not have a predetermined format
• Closed questions are easier to analyze
Interview questions
• Guidelines for developing questions (Robson 2002)
• Avoid:
• Long questions
• Compound sentences - split them into two
• e.g. How do you like this cell phone compared with previous
ones you’ve had?
How do you like this phone?
Have you owned others?
If so, how did you like it/them?
• Easier for interviewee to respond and easier for interviewer to
take notes
• Jargon and language that the interviewee may not
• Leading questions that make assumptions e.g., why do you
like …?
• Assumes person does like it – can discourage reporting true
• Unconscious biases e.g., gender stereotypes
Running the interview
• Introduction
– Introduce yourself
– Clearly explain the goals of the interview
• e.g., the goal is to determine a set of user requirements
for this application/interface
– Reassure about the ethical issues
– Ask for their permission to take notes
• Warm-up
– Make first questions easy and non-threatening
• e.g., What is your major? What year are you?
Running the interview
• Main body
– Present questions in a logical order
• A cool-off period
– Include a few easy questions to defuse tension at the
• Closure
– Thank interviewee, signal the end, e.g, put notebooks
Focus groups
• Normally 3 – 10 people
• Discussion / interview led by 1 person
• It’s the PM in your case
• Other team members must be present to take notes
• A preset agenda is used to guide the discussion
• Pros:
• Allows diverse issues to be raised that might otherwise be
• Individuals develop opinions by talking to others
• Cons:
• One person may dominate discussion
• Discourages others from speaking up
Enriching the interview process
• Props - devices for prompting interviewee, e.g., a
prototype, scenario
Project 2: Customer research
• Develop your focus group/interview agenda
• Be sure to cover all the important points for procedure
• Main topics to cover during the focus group
• Determine clients’ impressions of the problem you are trying
to address
• Determine improvements the clients want
• Determine clients’ solutions to the interface
•8 questions ideal
•A focus group is not:
•A debate
Group therapy
A conflict resolution session
A problem solving session
An opportunity to collaborate A promotional
An educational session
Role Play
• Groups of 4
Choose the conductor
Choose participant A
Choose participant B
Choose participant C
Participant A
The shy one:
you don’t speak
unless spoken
Participant B
The dominator:
you are speak
your opinions
as fact
Participant C
The rambler: you
talk a lot and
jump in when
others are talking
Overall goal: UF has asked you to solve the problem: they want to
have students eat more at campus restaurants for dinner
1. (Open ended) Describe about your typical dinner plans for a
2. (Open ended) Describe how you get to campus and around
3. (Close ended) On a scale of 1-5 where 5 is highest, how important
is price to your dinner plans?
4. (Close ended) On a scale of 1-5 where 5 is highest, how important
is quality of food to your dinner plans?

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