<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=443149619225659&ev=PageView&noscript=1"> Turning User Interviews Into Actionable Product Requirements

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Turning User Interviews Into Actionable Product Requirements

Turning User Interviews Into Actionable Product Requirements

Earlier, we discussed best practices for engaging users and making them feel part of the design team. Our next step is to organize the data collected from user interviews in such a way as to enable the creation of user stories, complete with user acceptance criteria.

As designers of user experience, this is where we exercise our analytical mindset and resist the urge to react emotionally to what we’ve learned. If our user took the time to communicate qualitative feedback, even if it is negative, we should accept their response as constructive criticism. Our guide for creating user interview questions should have yielded specific answers to key product design elements. At this point in the process, we are organizing data and searching for common themes from information that we’ve gathered. 

Here are some tips to help you organize and analyze your information:

Excel is your friend – or any other tool with rows and columns

Each user was asked the same questions, so list your questions. Then add columns to track responses – no user names! Hopefully, your user questions had limited response options, such as yes/no or selecting from a list, as well as areas for open-ended responses.

Look for patterns in your data. Consistency is an indicator of importance, but don’t throw away any individual insights.

ALWAYS Evaluate user responses through the lens of your product goals 

Keep in mind why you initiated your project in the first place. To simplify our discussion at this point, let’s look at an example – a company that offers a web portal for customers to request and pay for scheduled services. After 3 months, we notice that our customer-users are electing to use our customer service call center rather than use our customer web portal, even while complaining that they had to make that call. We built the web portal so that the customer could request service online, so our user interviews focused on why they were not using the new customer portal.

Let’s further assume that our goals were to (here come the KPI’s – gotta love ‘em):

  • Increase customer satisfaction rating to 90%
  • Reduce cost-to-serve by 25%
  • Increase revenue by 10% this year by attracting more customers to our easy-to-use, self-service portal

Interpreting the user interview data means identifying and prioritizing feedback that will impact your original goals. It is important to dollarize results when you can. If the company above has $10,000,000 in revenue, we can easily compute anticipated return on investment for the project and we should be able to prioritize proposed changes based on specific goals.


  • 75% of responses indicated that they are irritated by having to answer the same questions every time they go to the portal
  • 10% hate the color of the background
  • 40% said the mobile version of the web portal required too much scrolling

You get the idea.

We do need to design specific metrics so that we are able to measure the effects of implementing new features in the product. Concrete metrics not only justify the development effort but also indicate that our customers are seeing progress that matches the needs that were uncovered during our interviews.

Examples of metrics for measuring success include:

  • The number of clicks required to complete a task has decreased
  • The number of calls to the customer service center has decreased
  • The number of daily engagements with our product has increased
  • The amount of time spent on a specific page has increased/decreased
There are any number of options to measure success. Specific measures ensure that the feedback received from the user interviews is implemented effectively. 

Follow Up 

Building rapport during the user interviews allows you to engage the user on an ongoing basis. This can encourage participants to take a sense of ownership in the new or enhanced product as you address their concerns.

Ideally, you continue to engage users during sprint retrospectives to confirm that their needs are being met. During the agile software development process, we often discover better ways of doing things and can further align features more precisely with user needs. It always feels like Christmas when a user in an interview agrees to participate in future design iterations and demos.

Keep an Open Mind

Internal culture and processes tend to be the major driver of user need assumptions.  Concrete feedback from user interviews enables constructive internal discussions to steer your product roadmap.  

Keep an open mind to the feedback you receive from user interviews. If a feature has received universally negative reviews, maybe it’s time to revamp that feature or to let it go completely. It’s important that opinions are carefully and fairly taken into consideration with future versions of the product.

Without user feedback, your design and development team is guessing what features your users will value in your product. Art is often perceived differently depending on the person, and the same can be applied to designing software. Embrace the art of the user interview. Let your interview results guide you to a solution that will provide value and delight to your users.

Learn more about DesignOps in Steve's recent Webinar: DesignOps: Tools and Processes.

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About the author

Steve Vest, User Experience Architect, Small Footprint. After 17 years and several roles within the website and application business, Steve claims to know a thing or two about UI design, UX and working with clients and dev teams to build and evolve quality interactive products. He is passionate about the art and science of making end users feel satisfied and competent while creating experiences that evoke the “I really like how this thing works” rating.
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