3.2 – User Research: Interviews

Students will carry out research to gain an understanding of the human and the tasks they need to perform.


User interviews can be unstructured, semi-structured or structured, and follow a format where a researcher asks questions of users (or potential users) and records their responses. They can be used to examine the usability of the product, the user experience or to provide more detailed data for input into user personas.

Ideally an interview takes place with two UX researchers and one user. This enables one researcher to focus fully on asking questions (and follow-ups), and the second researcher can take notes.  If a second researcher is unavailable, then recording an interview can be a good fallback.

Interview Preparation

We settled on the approach of performing a semi-structured interview, as this would provide a good balance between having a formal structure that could be replicated easily, and also being able to go off-script and ask follow-up questions to reveal more information.

I then created a script for introducing ourselves and the project, thanking the user for their participation and explaining what we required from them. It also contained the tasks to perform for the observation section and the full list of interview questions that I chose to compliment our questionnaire.  These interview questions are listed below:

Have you ever gone scuba diving?
If yes, how often would you dive?
Have you ever visited the site of a wreck before?
If not, how interested would you be in visiting a wreck?
What type of wreck would you be most interested in visiting?
If you were to plan a visit to a wreck, what factors would you take into consideration the most?
Would you be interested in downloading an App for your phone with information about Irish wrecks and how to visit them?

If you were to have such an App on your phone, can you think of any features that would be really important or useful to you?
Would you like the ability to book accommodation for your trip via our app?
With whom would you most likely visit a wreck?
Would you pay for a guided tour of an Irish wreck?
Would you pay more for a private tour, or prefer to travel with a group?

The entire script and interview document can be viewed here.

I also drafted a consent form (based on existing forms I have previously used in my workplace) to give to all interviewees (and later prototype testers). The form essentially states that the individual gives their consent for the collection and processing of their personal data including image and voice by photography and/or video and/or voice recording for educational purposes.

The full consent form can be viewed here.

Conducting the Interviews

As mentioned in the previous post, Graham and I conducted observation/interview sessions with 7 individuals across two days. I also conducted another session with an 8th individual outside of the workplace.

Each interviewee was warmly greeted and thanked for their time. The script was followed in terms of explaining the project and what we required from them. They were then presented with the consent form and asked if they could sign. The form was carefully explained and any questions were answered, before each user agreed to sign.

The interviews themselves were conducted in a casual manner, whereby we looked for opportunities to find more personal thoughts and other questions we hadn’t thought of.  For example, after one of our early interviewees mentioned that they did not scuba-dive, but snorkeled instead – we then added that as an additional question for the remaining interviews.

For his part, David conducted three interview sessions and provided us with his results afterwards.

To provide an additional insight into the process, two sets of interview notes have been scanned and can be viewed here.

Interview Results

Our combined notes from all sessions are compiled and available here.

The images below can also be clicked on for greater detail.

The interviews can be summarised as follows:

  1. The vast majority expressed an interest in visiting a wreck, as long as their was plenty of easily accessible and useful information.
  2. We learned that most users would not want to download a specific app, but would instead go to the website on their mobile device. This was a very useful discovery for us.
  3. We learned that most users would not want to book accommodation via the website, but that all users would book and pay for a guided tour. Again, this is a major discovery for our future designs.


  1. Interaction Design Foundation (2016). How to Conduct User Interviews
  2. Jakob Nielsen (2010). Interviewing Users – Nielsen Norman Group

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