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During the Interview
Begin by thanking the person for taking the time to talk with you. Since some
time has elapsed since you first set up the meeting and sent the questions, remind
the person of the purpose of the interview.
If the person you are interviewing is agreeable, use a recorder, but take notes
as well in case your recorder breaks down. If the person does not wish to be
recorded, you will need to take notes while you interact with your interviewee.
This is a bit like juggling tasks but jot down statistics, interesting phrases, and
whatever else you can capture in your notes. At the same time, you are writing,
you’ll need to listen actively to your interviewee’s answers. Active listening
allows you to create more questions from the person’s comments. (“That’s an
interesting point. Can you give me an example of when that happened?”)
Conclude by summarizing key points and thanking the person for his time.
After the Interview
Sit down with your notes as soon as possible to fill in the blanks, fill out the
abbreviations, and elaborate on the brief phrases that will become more and
more mysterious to you as time goes by. We often use the nearest café or diner
for this purpose, but a lobby works just as well. Afterwards, be sure to send a
thank-you note or e-mail. SITE VISITS
A site visit simply means you are stopping by a place (another word for site) to
check out a store display, an ad, or a Web site to draw your own conclusions
about its effectiveness, creativity, and power. You make your own site visits to
review and assess your client’s past design choices (and his competition’s) or to
seek inspiration for your project. For site visit research, you’ll get the best information
if you visit a number of similar sites (for instance, numerous Web sites),
in order to compare and contrast some of their key details. Planning
When you are visiting a variety of sites, planning helps you follow a consistent
method of comparing and contrasting key details. This preparation is important
because it keeps you focused on your intentions.
In advance, prepare a reminder list of what you want to look for when you
get to the site. Your list should include: • Questions to be answered • Assumptions and expectations to be tested • Details to be filled in Beside helping you remember to collect all of the information you need, your list will allow you to compare how different designers dealt creatively with similar issues. On-Site Keep an open mind while visiting the site. Although a list is important, we’re not suggesting that you ignore unusual or original details. By all means, see what you can discover at any given site that you hadn’t anticipated. Take notes while you are at the site instead of relying on memory. Consult your list before you leave the site to keep your research on target. It’s easy to be distracted by those bells and whistles so that you forget some of the key details you wanted to assess and record. This will save you time in the long run; you don’t want to have to go back to the sites to get what you missed the first time around. After the Visit Fill in your notes while your observations are fresh in your mind, and review your list to see if your visit has suggested other details you might want to look for in subsequent site visits. QUESTIONNAIRES, SURVEYS, AND FOCUS GROUPS You have, no doubt, been exposed to numerous questionnaires and surveys that ask your opinion, questioning you in either written or oral form. They focus on specific factors, for example, to determine how the new Zippy Cola product or advertising campaign stacks up against its competitors. Another way to gather opinions is through focus groups, where ten to twelve people come together for a facilitated discussion about a product, idea, or issue. The topic may center on when, why, and how customers make decisions about buying things. Another example would be to test-market different advertising concepts for Zippy Cola, probing into specifics about the focus group’s perceptions of the ads.