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Interviews and Focus Groups 

What is it?

Interviews and focus groups let you query users about their experiences and preferences with your product. Both are formal, structured events where you directly interact with users, asking them to voice their opinions and experiences regarding your product.

How do I do it?

You begin by formulating questions about your product based on the type of information you want to know. The sources listed at the end of this page provide more information on designing effective questions. Then, simply ask your users to answer these questions.

In interviews and focus groups, as opposed to surveys and questionaires, you're present to interact and facilitate discussion about the issues raised by your questions. With multiple users present, as with focus groups, the interaction among the users may raise additional issues, or identify common problems that many people experience.

When should I use this technique?

This technique can be used at any stage of development, depending on the questions that are asked. Often, interviews or focus groups are used after products are shipped to assess customer satisfaction with the product. More likely, though, interviews and focus groups are held at very early stages of development, when the product requirments are still not firm. Focus groups are then held to extract user requirements prior to initial design.

Who can tell me more?

Click on any of the following links for more information:

Greenbaum, Thomas L.,"Focus Groups: A Help or a Waste of Time?" from Tom's articles page at Lots of other good focus group articles on that site.

Greenbaum also has a couple of articles on video focus groups: "Focus Group By Video - Next Trend Of The 90's" and "Is Your Moderator Ready for Videoconferencing?" on his site.

Greenbaum, Thomas L., The Handbook for Focus Group Research, 1997, Sage Pubns; ISBN: 0761912533

Nielsen, Jakob, "The Use and Misuse of Focus Groups"

Templeton, Jane F., The Focus Group : A Strategic Guide to Organizing, Conducting and Analyzing the Focus Group Interview, 1994, Probus Pub Co; ISBN: 1557385300

Maya Design and W3Focus do online focus groups: FAQ
Maya Design also does telephone focus groups.

Silverman, George, "How to Get Beneath the Surface in Focus Groups" from George's articles page at Lots of great focus group articles here, too.

All content copyright © 1996 - 2019 James Hom