W2: Empathize with users

Slides and info below from Coursera Google UX: Start the UX Design Process – Empathize with users

Start the UX Design Process / module 2

  • need to talk to people directly like through interviews
  • Recruit Interview Participants
    • screener survey can help id best candidates
      • Screener survey – a detailed list of questions that helps researchers determine if potential participants meet the requirements of the research study
      • Start with determining interview goals
        • 1. What do you want to learn from the interviews?
        • 2. Are there certain user problems or pain points that you need to empathize with?
        • 3. Are there any characteristic of users you want to interview?
        • 4. Why?
        • 5. How much information should we have to ensure we get a comprehensive and balanced set of data?
      • Aim to form a Representative Sample
        • A subset of the target population that seeks to accurately reflect the characteristics of the larger group
        • Should include user groups that have been commonly underrepresented in previous research
        • This lack of representation is often a result of biases due to age, race and ability
      • Where to find potential participants
        • People you know (for the program)
          • Family members
          • Friends
          • Current or former colleagues
          • Managers
          • Peers in this course
          • then move on to people you don’t know
        • People you don’t know
          • Think about
        • Methods on the job
          • Third Party Recruiting Agency
          • Websites specifically for usertesting
            • usertesting.com
            • userinterviews.com


  • suggested content / format
  • include incentive if possible like a giftcard
  • email reminders 1 week and 1 night before

6 tips to help with being a more empathetic UX designer:

  • Ask lots of questions and don’t make assumptions. Make sure to ask users directly about their needs and wants. Questions that begin with what, how, and why
  • Become more observant watching a user interact with you or your product can provide physical cues that can affect your research outcomes. Take detailed notes or even record your sessions with users to help remember important cues.
  • Be an active listener. Make sure to fully concentrate on, understand, and remember what is being said by the user. Try not to get distracted by where conversation is going or what you might say next. This can help you collect impartial feedback directly from your users, which you can apply to improve your designs.
  • Request input. It’s important that the feedback you receive is objective and unbiased. Friends or colleagues often provide biased, mostly positive feedback because they want to support or please you. So, it’s important to request input from a variety of sources and a diverse group of users. When asking for feedback, use open-ended questions to understand the user’s actual thoughts on the experience or product.
  • Have an open mind. We all have biases. Remember, a bias is favoring or having prejudice against something or someone, based on limited information. As UX designers, we have to set those biases aside to better empathize with others. Your goal is to understand users, not to complicate their feedback with your own opinions and emotions. 
  • Keep current on UX research Follow researchers and join online communities to stay up-to-date on the research that affects UX designers and the users you’re designing for. Research is always changing and evolving as we understand more about human psychology. Staying current will give you an advantage in how you understand and interact with your audience. 

A few best practices to keep in mind when writing interview questions:

  • Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow the person being interviewed to answer freely, instead of with a simple “yes” or “no.” For example, if you’re designing an app to help people find dog walkers, you should ask “Could you describe your experience with finding and scheduling dog walkers?” instead of “Have you ever used an app to find a dog walker?”. Keep in mind that the questions you ask during interviews should not lead or pressure participants towards a desired response; instead, asking open-ended questions lets participants share their true thoughts and perspectives.
  • Keep questions short and simple. It should be easy for interview participants to understand what you’re asking. 
  • Ask follow-up questions. During the empathize phase of the design process, interviews should be conversational, so encouraging participants to elaborate is a best practice. After a participant answers an interview question, try asking them “Why?” or use the phrase, “Tell me more about that” to keep the conversation flowing.

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