How to use storytelling to transform user interviews into product insights your whole team will buy into
User interviews tend to be dry - why else would product managers need to incentivize people with gift cards and cash to do them? But when done well, user interviews are as engaging for the interviewee as they are informative for you. A good user interview tells a story — with the person using your product as the hero, and you as the guide.
Since user interviews happen often, and live (NOT asynchronously), we try to make sure the time is well-spent and results in crisp insights we can later develop into solutions. Here's how we break down the process and set our heroes (customers) up for success.
User interviews are just one part of user research, which itself is part of the overall product development process. A highly structured process for user research is like an action-packed film: it's got a clear arc from beginning to end.
The user research process at Slite looks like this:
The above research then sets us up for the development process:
User interviews take place at two key points in the development process: generating ideas and validating what's been built. At both points, the product team needs to talk to people face-to-face. They do so via video call. A bit more detail below:
Generative user research focuses on individuals who fit the ICP (ideal customer profile), but are not customers, and is used to discover:
Interviews conducted for generative research purposes tend not to include any product testing or guided tours. The goal is just to get to the root of people's pain points and understand how they think.
Evaluative user research focuses both on current users and those within the ICP, with the goal of having people test out the product and evaluate how well it works. It's much less exploratory and more analytical. The questions it answers are often more direct:
When you have to conduct several interviews over a short period of time, you don't want to lose interesting or important details. Some tools we recommend for organizing your user research:
Elmore Leonard once said about writing, "When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.” This is true when sharing your findings from user interviews as well.
When your product team presents their findings from user research, you've already landed on what matters: the most urgent problems, and the most elegant solutions. Even though there will be many interesting takeaways from interviews, the useable ones are the ones that ultimately help the customer succeed along the journey from pain point to resolution. They are the heroes of the story after all.
Melanie Broder is on the Marketing team at Slite, where she works on all things content. She helps Slite users gain new skills through guides, templates, and videos. She lives in New York City, where she likes to read novels and run loops around Central Park.
Aron Leah is an illustrator and designer, who can usually be found thinking up new ways to clear his mind over a cup of coffee and has yet to realise the irony in that. His work is informed by an enthusiasm for uncovering meaning and emotion to develop ideas.
Cyn Sánchez is part of the Product Design team, focusing on improving the product by understanding users’ needs and all the way through to the final designs you see in Slite. When not behind her computer, you can find her taking yoga classes, doing DIY projects for her home and learning about plants.
Nick Schweitzer is on the Product team at Slite, focussing on everything from collecting user insights through to shipping great products. When not chatting to users or sketching solution ideas, you can find him exploring the UK, running up mountains and taking dips in cold lakes.