Kissmetrics user experience research manager Chuck Liu writes about why asking users what they want is the wrong question to ask, and gives readers 3 better questions to ask.
The first rule of user research: never ask anyone what they want.
— Erika Hall, Just Enough Research
I rave about user interviews. They’re cheap (see: free), potent (you get more than what you ask for), and efficient.
But good interviewing takes practice.
It helps if you’re naturally curious about people, but if you aren’t, you can still fake it till you make it. For example, Michael Margolis of Google Ventures likes to get into character .
Like Erika Hall states above, when you embark on your user interviews, you’ll want to avoid asking what they want. Asking people what they want will lead you to the wrong insights. You will not discover the root cause of a problem, but rather what they envision as their own ideal solution.
Don’t Make User Interviews Hard For Yourself:
When you ask a person what they want, you let them think within the realm of possibility. And that makes user research harder than it should be. If you’re trying to create a new product or experience that doesn’t exist yet, you’ll want to know what’s causing people to not be able to do what they want with the tools they currently have. That way, you can design for an entirely new experience or incremental improvement that helps them get the job done.
At KISSmetrics, I spend a lot my time interviewing people about what they currently use to solve a problem. Here’s what I think are 3 better questions to ask. And I ask these all the time:
- What are you trying to get done? (Gather context)
- How do you currently do this? (Analyze workflow)
- What could be better about how you do this? (Find opportunities)
What are you trying to get done? Why?