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We’ve been conducting remote user interviews for years. He’s what seems to work best.
Honest feedback is absolutely necessary to create a product people love. But getting to the heart of what people need, and how they feel about what you’ve built is never easy. A remote world with challenges ranging from connecting over Zoom meetings, to audio issues, to the disconnection that comes from having a screen between you and them can make the process even more daunting.
We’ve been conducting remote user interviews for years and have learned quite a bit about making our users comfortable and understanding what’s actually being said.
One of the great things about people is that they generally care about other people. While that’s a great thing for society, it can lead to folks not sharing what they actually think or how strongly they feel. This is especially true when it comes to communicating critical feedback.
No matter how hard you try to make things conversational and tell someone that there’s no right answer, the people you’re interviewing usually recognize that interviews are structured research. That makes it natural for them to feel like they’re going to be judged for their feedback. That makes it harder to admit they don’t know something. It makes it scarier to share feedback they don’t think other people would share.
When someone joins your remote interview, they need to be using at least two programs — your meeting software and whatever you’re testing (your app, a Figma prototype, etc). Two might not sound like a lot. But that’s two programs that each have their own friction (sign-ins, buttons that do similar things in different places) and potential for bugs.
There are two areas where you need to reduce friction when conducting remote interviews: tools and process.
You could sum up all this by saying treat the people you interview like humans, not subjects. Humans hate annoyances, so reduce friction. They like feeling like people care about them, so ask them to tell stories. They don’t want to feel stupid, so be clear with your questions and give them what they need to prepare up front.
If you take that attitude into your conversations with your users, I’m confident you’ll get more honest and useful feedback.
What did I miss? Where am I wrong? Let me know. I’d love to learn from you.