Originally posted at Reform By Design
59 Questions That Help Stoke Need Finding
In our class, Design Thinking in Education, we conducted the "Whose Life?" exercise, developed by Steve Bishop, of IDEO. In the exercise, teams get to know a user by examining around 20 photos from a user camera study. (In a user camera study one can “understand a user’s experience by seeing it through their eyes. It will also allow you to understand environments to which you might not normally have access.” (2010 Bootcamp Bootleg) The snapshots are a representation of a user’s day, or portion thereof.)
Per the original exercise instructions, I asked my students to study the photos and then answer a series of questions about the user. I made one modification to the exercise as written. I asked every person on a design team take a turn at ”being the user.”
The details of the modification were as follows: Each person on the team wrote down 3 questions they would like to ask the user after examining the results of the camera study. Per the original instructions they were to develop subjective questions like “Who did you vote for in the last election? Tell me about your significant other/partner. What did you eat for dinner last night? Your favorite book?” Etc. Each team member’s questions had be unique.
Then each team member took a turn playing the role of the user. Starting with the first team member playing the user role, the person to their left interviewed them by posing their 3 interview questions. The team member playing the user had to answer in the first person providing responses based on what they now knew (or imagined), about the user based on the data from the camera study. In other words, they had to become the person behind the camera.
Students got a lot of sophisticated, nuanced insights from this exercise. Some students said that playing the role of a stranger in first-person gave them more insight into the user than they obtained studying their photos. One student said they found the act of portraying the user in first-person “liberating.”
On the tactical side, I was impressed by the sheer number of interview questions developed in the exercise and the topics they covered.
Herewith are the questions developed by the students. I present them not to say these are the best need finding interview questions ever. There is no such list. Rather I present them so you can revel in them: Some are serious, some are silly, and all stoke the imagination on how you might ask a new question which helps you get to know your user.
Following most of these with one or two replies of “why?” will take you even deeper.
- How long do you spend commuting everyday?
- Tell me about your relationship.
- How did you meet your fiance?
- What activities did you participate in in high school?
- Where are you going on your honeymoon?
- Why there?
- If you had a day off in which you could do anything you chose to do, how would you spend it?
- If you had one day off from training and work, how would you spend it and with whom?
- If you could assign someone to take over one of your daily tasks, which one would it be and why?
- What is your favorite TV show?
- Would you rather have a shorter commute and live in the city or commute further to have more space?
- How did you meet your partner?
- Where are you from originally?
- What is your favorite music to listen to while exercising?
- Do you follow any specific diet (vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, kosher, halal, etc.)
- What is the reason you use public transit and not a car?
- Are you disappointed in the 1%?
- Is there a method to you madness?
- What would you do if you won $300,000,000?
- If you could have a foreign accent or speak another language, which would it be and why?
- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
- If you were Sally, would you sell seashells by the sea shore?
- How much wood can woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
- Do you like architecture?
- Do you venture into the city?
- Were you sunburned badly when you were younger?
- Why do you have so many name brand running shoes?
- Why do you have an alarm at 7am and not get up with your husband at 5am?
- Do you drink coffee or tea?
- Why awake to see your husband off at 5 am?
- Do you enjoy preparing healthy snacks or just stopping by at the coffee shop?
- Would you rather attend pilates everyday or just ride your bike daily?
- Why do you work at home?
- Why don’t you make your own coffee?
- Why be healthy?
- How long have you been married?
- Where is your favorite place to socialize?
- Do you work from home often?
- What book did you last read?
- Do you sleep well at night?
- What businesses do you frequent?
- Who’s your favorite baseball team?
- What’s your favorite color?
- Do you enjoy reading?
- What does your typical day consist of?
- How often do you exercise?
- What do you do for fun?
- Where is your favorite place to go in the city?
- What is your favorite website for news?
- What’s your significant other’s worst habit?
- Why do you like Apple products?
- What’s your opinion on coal mining?
- What’s your favorite weekend activity?
- What is your favorite hobby?
- Tell me about your significant other.
- Tell me about your diet.
- What are your future goals?
- What’s your guilty pleasure?
- What’s the deal with all of your shoe boxes?
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