User research is needed to directly involve (future) customers and, thus, help product teams craft a strategy that ensures that a built product fits users’ needs.
On a fairly abstract level, user research methods can be classified in a 2×2 grid based on two dimensions:
There exists a large variety of many different research methods along this 2×2 grid some of which will be discussed below.
User interviews will be covered in more detail below. Quickly sketching some other methods from that chart:
Finally, let’s take a closer look at user interviews as a method of attitudinal, qualitative user research — including some useful tools and frameworks for these.
In such an interview, a researcher will ask one user questions about a specific topic of interest with the overall goal of learning how that topic is currently dealt with by users. Different to focus groups (see above), only one user is interviewed here by a UX researcher who may or may not be accompanied by other observers — e.g. to achieve a broad understanding of the problem area, pains, and gains, it is recommended that parts of the team are involved as well, and be it only as passive observers.
User interviews have become a popular technique for getting user feedback, mainly because they are fast and easy. Use them to learn about users’ perceptions of your design, not about its usability.