Advice on extracting more information from users when interviewing them

I am going to do user interviews soon for a personal project I have in mind. I was wondering if anyone has any tips on getting more information out of a user when they don’t say much. I have these two questions I ask usually and from my previous experience they usually don’t say much:

1. What is frustrating or confusing about how you currently look for recreational activities?

2. What is something that it doesn’t do for you today but that you wish it would do for you?

For these questions users usually say that nothing is frustrating/confusing or they have nothing they wish for. Is there a back up I can ask?

Those questions are hard to answer as you’re asking them to summarize their whole experiences into a bitsize answer for you.

U have to make it easy for them. Try starting with something like this…

“Think back to the most recent time u looked online for recreational activities”

Then u can go into more details within this particular experience.

Then u can perhaps ask “is this typical of how you would usually do this” etc

Don’t ask them for ideas, understand how they currently do something and create ideas out of their painpoints

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It can be really helpful to separate what you want to find out from the questions you ask. It’s not normally a one-to-one relationship. To find out one useful piece of information often involves asking a lot of questions.

So I’d approach your research as follows:

Your aims

From your questions, it sounds like you want to find out:

  • What recreational activities the interviewee does
  • How they look for these activities
  • What websites/apps they use, and why
  • What features in these websites/apps are important to them, and why
  • What problems/obstacles they encounter when using these websites/apps
  • How they think these websites/apps could be improved

Your questions

I’d expect to ask at least 20 or 30 questions to get this information. This isn’t a complete list, but it would be questions like:

  • What recreational activities do you enjoy?
  • How long have you been doing [activity X]? (assessing whether newbie or expert)
  • Who do you do it with? Friends? Family? Member of a club? (assessing solo or group activity)
  • Do you have any favourite websites or apps that you use to help you with [activity X]?
  • What do you use these websites or apps for? Finding places/people/clubs? Information? Recording data?
  • Tell me more about [that specific thing you do on website X]. (diving deeper now, focusing on a specific user journey) How often do you do this? What’s involved? Is it easy or hard? How long does it take? Can you take me through the steps? Can you show me what you do? Etc…
  • Where/when do you normally do that? At home? In the office? On the way to work? In the car?
  • What technology/platform do you use? Computer? Tablet? Mobile?
  • What do you think works well on [website/app/user journey X]?
  • What frustrates you about [website/app/user journey X]?
  • Do you think there’s a way to improve [website/app/user journey X]?

To get useful answers, you need to start very general to get a conversation going and build a rapport with the interviewee. Then be prepared to slowly go deeper and deeper and get more and more specific. Listen really carefully to the answers they give and follow up on the details they give you.

Then you’ll find that the information you need will emerge - probably when you least expect it. It’s a great feeling when the interviewee finally says something useful. It’s like discovering gold!

This article has lots more detail:

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