Once you know what you don't know, start interacting with customers and users.

User interviews


A wide-spanning set of semi-structured interviews with actual users of the service. (For interviewing other people who have influence on or are impacted by the service, see Stakeholder Interviews in Awareness.)


To develop a deeper understanding of the goals, needs, and actions of people who use the service.


Time required

1–2 hours per interviewee

How to do it

  1. Create a guide for yourself of some topics you’d like to ask about, and some specific questions as a back up. Questions will often concern the individual’s role, the organization, the individuals’ needs, and metrics for success of the project.
  2. Sit down one-on-one with the participant, or two-on-one with a note-taker or joint interviewer, in a focused environment. Introduce yourself. Explain the premise for the interview as far as you can without biasing their responses.
  3. Follow the conversation where the participant takes it. They will focus on their priorities and interests. Be comfortable with silences, which allow the participant to elaborate. To keep from getting entirely off course, use your interview guide to make sure you cover what you need to. Ask lots of “why is that” and “how do you do that” questions.
  4. If there are other products they use or your product doesn’t have constraints imposed by prior work, observe the stakeholders using a competing product and consider a comparative analysis.

Additional resources

Considerations for use in government

No PRA implications. The PRA explicitly exempts direct observation and non-standardized conversation, 5 CFR 1320.3(h)3. See the methods for Recruiting and Privacy for more tips on taking input from the public.