Prepare for your study

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Reframer streamlines the workflow of planning, running and analyzing a user interview. Here are a few tips to help you set up your Reframer study for success.

Identify your study goal and objectives

Before you jump straight into your research, we recommend taking the time to form a clear understanding of the goal of the research as well as the research objectives. 

The goal is usually tied to the business goal for the overall work. So if the business goal is to increase conversion for the submission process by x%, then the research may be about identifying the mental models of users so you can organize the steps logically, or the goal might be to identify the overall success of the current and new structure.

Once you’ve decided on a goal, you need to set your objectives. These are the big questions you are hoping to get answered in the research. Writing them down can help you and the team get on the same page. 

Objectives can be written as questions: Where are people dropping out of the conversion funnel?

But equally can be written as hypotheses if you have an inkling about what is happening: Users are unable to complete the form because we are asking for passport or other ID information that they are uncomfortable providing.

You want to aim for around 4-6 objectives. Any more than that and it’s hard to address them all in a single piece of research. For smaller projects, the goal and the objective are the same thing.

Identify your interview questions

Ultimately, interviewing is the art of learning about another human through conversation.

However, in a user interview situation, you can’t directly ask participants “what’s wrong?” Getting honest, insightful answers requires strategic questions. But don’t worry, this is a skill that can be learnt with practice.

The key is ensuring your participants feel comfortable to share their experiences and honest opinions with you. Most of the time, even if your participants want to be honest with you, they aren’t always conscious of their own experiences and opinions of the subject matter you’re researching. The way you frame your questions or discussion guide needs to help them reflect and articulate their thoughts and feelings.

Creating your discussion guide
So what exactly are you going to ask your participants about? You’ve got an allotted time period with your participant and you want to make the most of it. Your discussion guide helps to provide structure and reference for your interview, acting as a reminder of your questions as you take notes during your session.

When you write your guide, the first thing to do is put your goal and objectives in front of you and think about how to address the questions within those.

Here are some key things to include in your discussion guide:

  • Introduction: Explain who you and your other team members are. Tell the participant as much as they need to know about the session. Confirm that the participant is happy to be observed, have notes taken about what they say and do, and have the session recorded.
  • Consent form: Administer the consent form to them that lets them know their legal standing.
  • Warm up preamble: Have a chat, ask them about their day, help them relax. Being interviewed can be stressful so starting with some really easy questions or banter will help reduce the tension.
  • The body of your questions: This is where you’ll get all those juicy insights. Check out our article on using a narrative arc to flesh out your questions.
  • Wrap up: Every moment is golden, don’t waste your wrap up on questions like “do you have anything else to add?” Ask your participant to reflect on some of the things they’ve said, there’s likely more insights to be gained.

Using the Discussion Guide in Reframer
Once you’ve identified your interview questions, you can enter them into the Discussion Guide in Reframer.

When conducting your sessions, you’ll see the discussion guide in the ‘Capture’ tab. By moving through the discussion guide, your notes will be saved under the relevant questions, providing context for individual observations and making analysis easier.

Discussion guide layout when capturing observations during a session

Depending on how your sessions pan out, you might find it feels more natural to keep the order of your interview questions flexible and navigate through the topics as they crop up in conversation, instead of sticking to a rigid list.

This means you might want to keep the questions you write fairly high-level and use them as a guide rather than a script. Feel free to jump around the discussion guide, you can always tag your observations to specific questions or tasks further down the track.

Identify your participants and create segments

Your participants should reflect the type of customer or audience you want to reach. For example, if you want insight into how doctors communicate and store patient data, you’d want to talk to medical professionals instead of members of the general public. 

If you’re working with personas, interview different people from these personas to get multiple points of view and a wider range of information. This will also help you avoid making any decisions based on what one person said.

Use segments to reflect the cohorts or meaningful traits your participants have that are similar or different from each other. For example, demography, experience level, job title, etc.

Recruit your participants

Once you know the type of participants you want for your sessions, there are a few things to consider before you start recruiting:

  • Do you want to run your sessions in-person or remotely?
  • What’s your budget?
  • How are you planning on recruiting? 
  • How many participants do you want? Read our recommendations here

When you start the recruitment process, you want to make sure that the potential participants you’re getting are the ones you want. It’s a good idea to create a screener survey that captures relevant information and allows you to ask specific qualification and segmentation questions. 

You can do this easily using Questions by Optimal Workshop. Find out more about how to write a good screener survey here.

Once you have a pool of participants with relevant segmentation data, you can pick and choose the participants best suited to your research.  

Set up sessions with your participants
Once you’ve booked in your participants, it’s time to set up sessions for each one in Reframer.

We recommend filling out the participant information in Reframer for each session to provide context about the participant for you and your notetakers. Use session information for any context or links that might be helpful for you or your notetakers and use segments for information on demographics, personas or user types.