Learn more about your mobile users: surveys & interviews

I recently contributed the "part two" of my DIY mobile user research posts over at the Elliance blog (check out part one here).

In the post, I explain why interviews and online surveys are key to understanding your user's motivations and preferences, the pros and cons of each method, and what you can ask to get the most out of your respondent or interviewee. 

Read about using surveys and interviews for mobile research on the Elliance blog.

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Links: Persona Resources

Today's Adaptive Path post about "Avoiding Half-Baked Personas" launched me on a Google exploration of the persona. Admittedly, I did not know that there were so many types of personas...the article and the comments alone unveiled ad-hoc personas, proto-personas, user descriptions, provisional personas...probably more semantics to come, the article is young. (Side note: is there something terribly attractive about p-sound alliteration?)

In honor of my search query of the day, some quality links on persona creation: 

eightshapes | unifiy Persona Page Patterns

Beautiful layouts for personas. I've never said this before, but someone get me InDesign! 

Tood Warfel's Persona Templates

Another example of documentation. Again, more InDesign!

How to Understand Your Users with Personas

Persona comic strip, no kidding. 

A Few Quality How-To's

Making Personas More Powerful - Exhaustive toolkit PDF. 

Three Important Benefits of Personas - key reasons to do them. 

Crappy Personas vs. Robust Personas - response to the 37Signals persona fracas. 

In conclusion...

To tell the truth, when I hear "persona" I think of this

Interviewing: One Question at a Time

In my working life, I've attended tons of discovery sessions, conducted informational interviews and usability tests, listened to vendor demos and been in too many meetings to count. The thing that gets me the most are the questions. 

You have questions! This is good. What is not good is asking more than one at a time. You know the type. Those massive questions that stretch on and on, asking for 3 or 4 things, that include various other points as you go along. By the time the questioner has stopped talking, the answerer: 

  1. Doesn't remember any of what was asked.
  2. Only remembers the last question, or the first, or whichever one they managed to cull from the oratory.
  3. Only chooses to answer the easiest question.
  4. Ends up answering none satisfactory. 

 I remember being in journalism classes back in the day, when the rule was "if you want an answer, ask one direct question at a time." And to make it more fun, the question couldn't be answered with "yes" or "no." 

When you're conducting user research, or even trying to get to the bottom of an issue in a meeting, just ask one question at a time! And just ask the question: don't add fluffery, don't hedge and don't include your reasons for asking. You have a right to the answer to your question, so make your question easier to answer.

By the way, after you ask your question don't jump in to fill the uncomfortable silence (if any). The person is probably thinking. Thinking can cause answers.