Lost your License key?
Retrieve Your License
Log In to Balsamiq Cloud
Our new Web App
Go to balsamiq.cloud
Log In to myBalsamiq
Our vintage Web App
Log In to myBalsamiq
If you've been following us for a while, you know how much we love talking to our customers.
I strongly believe that our industry's infatuation with data and metrics is a terrible, terrible thing.
So many entrepreneurs spend countless hours rummaging through their analytics, without realizing that most of us don't have enough volume to make the data statistically relevant in the least. We end up reading what we want to read from the data, and we make terrible time-wasting decisions.
Learning about our users doesn't have to be a complicated, grueling task. There's a FAR better, EASY way to do it. It's called TALKING TO THEM! I know, radical, right?
I get it; I'm a nerd too. Talking to strangers can be awkward and scary. But it doesn't have to be. And it's worth it.
Every time I speak with a customer for 30 minutes I end up with a list of 8 bullet-points of things that we MUST-DO-IMMEDIATELY-OMG-WHY-DID-WE-NOT-DO-THESE-YET!
It's 1000 times more efficient than analytics, trust me. Even with all the most precise analytics in the world on hand, you would still need to talk to people and ask them "why?"
User Research is its own discipline. People build their whole careers around it, and it takes a long time to get really good at it. Consider yourself lucky if you can hire someone to teach you how to do it, or to do the research for you. But most of us at small companies can't afford to. Here's what I did to prepare.
I watched this talk: Interviewing Users: Uncovering Compelling Insights by Steve Portigal - I also ordered his book and read the first few chapters of it. That was enough to gain the confidence to try and come up with my own system to start interviewing users.
Note that interviews are not the same as usability testing. You could combine the two, but there's not usually enough time to do it in a single call.
Once I had read up enough on the topic, I created a simple "field guide" for myself, to help me during the call.
A field guide is simply a list of things to remember to say during the call. Writing them down makes sure you don't forget them, and that you always find the right words at the right time! All you have to do is read the script!
Here are the instructions for myself that I put in my guide:
Starting the call:
What you ask your users can depend on a lot of factors. You could have separate questions for each of your personas, or want to ask different things depending on what problem you're trying to solve with your business at the time.
It is essential to have a clear goal for the interview and make sure your questions will get you a step closer to achieve it.
Here's a list of generic questions to start with:
You can tweak as you go. Think of these questions as guidelines. You don't have to follow them too strictly. More than an interview try to hold a conversation. If it takes an interesting turn away from the pre-established questions, follow it.
Not too hard, right?
Alright, now that you have your field guide, all that's missing is customers to talk to and learn about!
Depending on what you want to ask, you might want to speak with people who don't know about your product, or just found it, or are beginners, or experts, or even left your product for another.
To make the process easier and less intimidating, we suggest starting by talking to your super-fans. They love you already, and they probably use your software much more than you do yourself. You have a ton to learn from them, and the conversations will be smooth and friendly. Even recruiting them will be easy!
At Balsamiq, we are recruiting like this:
That's it! Again, easy and cheap.
Speaking of cheap: we don't offer any reward to people for talking to us, we want them to do it because they genuinely want to help us. We do send them a special gift after the call, but that's a surprise. 😉
All that's left is to schedule the interviews (this can be a bit tedious, but tools like YouCanBook.me can help), and do a bunch of them. You'll feel more and more comfortable as you do them.
After each interview, watch the video back and take notes. Have someone else from your team do the same: they'll probably have different ideas than yours.
We try to do 2 or 3 interviews a week.
It's SO worth it. It gives you and your team incredible CLARITY on what you're all about and what you should be doing next. Highly, highly recommended.
We've been applying this simple research interview method for over a year. Now, we're ready to step it up.
Here are all the exciting things that are happening:
We genuinely care about our customers, and we want to help them be more awesome. In order to do this, we're continuously thinking of how to cultivate empathy for them. User Research will help us do that in several ways:
That's it for now!
We hope this little guide was useful. Do YOU talk to your users? If so, how? If not, why not?
Also, we're still very much interested in talking to you! Now you even know what we'll ask you! Here's the sign-up page.
Peldi for the Balsamiq Team
We'll send you just one email a month and share a ton of information that you'll get before everyone else. More info about the newsletter here.
We'll never share your email address or spam you.
Your email is never published nor shared.