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In individual interviews, an interviewer talks with one user for 30 minutes to an hour:
- Face to face
- By telephone
- With an instant messaging system
Individual interviews resemble focus groups because they involve talking with users. The main difference between an individual interview and a focus group is that you are talking to one person at a time. Because these interviews do not involve watching a user work, they are different from interviewing users in a usability test or conducting contextual interviews.
Individual interviews can give you a deep understanding of the people who come to your site. You can probe their attitudes, beliefs, desires, and experiences. You can also ask them to rate or rank choices for site content.
In an individual interview, you:
- Have more time to discuss topics in detail
- Do not have to worry about the group dynamics that inevitably occur in focus groups
- Can give the interviewee your full attention and adjust your interviewing style to your interviewee’s needs
Ideally, interviews take place at the start of the development cycle while you are developing or reviewing the objectives and goals of the site.
Interviews can supplement online surveys. You can do interviews:
- Before a survey, to refine questions for the survey
- After a survey, to probe for details and reasons behind answers that users give on a survey
- Selecting representative participants and decide what you want to learn
- Writing an interview protocol for the interviewer to follow. The protocol includes questions and probes to use for follow-up
- Hiring a skilled interviewer who knows how to make interviewees feel more comfortable, asks questions in a neutral manner, listens well, and knows when and how to probe for more details
- Getting permission to tape the sessions and have one or more note takers