Practical UX Skills: Talking to people

By Mark Kamau
iHub UXlab
  Published 23 Feb 2014
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Practical UX Skills: Talking to people
We had a great kick off to the practical UX skills training. In many ways it was a getting to know each other session to find out who was who and their interests, but also learning real practical methods. Often we say in User Experince practice that you need to talk to your users. How then do you do this? What are the tenets for example of a good interview with a person from whom you would like to learn? This was the main topic Samantha Meritt, a visiting researcher dealt with on the day.

Here are 3 main takeaways from the training;-

Avoid leading questions

It is arguably the biggest pitfall when talking to people, especially about something we are passionate about and have some level of investment in. Sometimes are desperate to validate our idea to the detriment of gathering nuggets of insights. Samantha actually said something I never thought about before. That sometimes we even lead subconsciously. Think about that for a moment. Tricky isn’t it?  

Have childlike curiosity, seek stories

You should always seek to know why? Why do people ‘think’ or have a specific opinion? When was the last time you….. Extract stories based on actual experiences rather that questions that have ‘usually’. A good example I have always had has been when you ask a Kenyan youth what their hobbies are. They often say; swimming, travelling, reading novels… The story however yields much more useful feedback when you ask when was the last time you had some free time? What did you do? This yields a totally different  set of answers and with much more insightful feedback.  

Differ judgment

The human brain is intelligent and often assigns an opinion/judgment to an environment and discussion. Often, we don’t really listen but are a few steps ahead planning a response or placing statements we hear in a box. It is rather difficult, but consciously defer your judgment. Only by truly listening do you get a new insight. Differ your experience and judgment and then you will learn. Lastly, always record the interview! (bonus, but too important to leave out J)  

Learning Within a context

These sessions will be conducted within a very practical context where we apply the skills to an existing startup as a basis for practice. We have as the first startup on which the participants will apply the methods they learn. Thank all of you who attended and signed up for the next class. We will be blogging about the next session in a fortnight, so keep watching this space.
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