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The art of pulling stories out of others without telling the story yourself
...known colloquially as "user interviews."
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In recent weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to users about their data habits: how they share, consume, and make decisions around data.
It’s been an interesting practice in drawing stories out of others. I’ve spent so much time this year thinking about how to become a better storyteller and communicator myself that the mindset shift has posed an interesting challenge: how do I nudge folks toward identifying real pain points and their sources without inadvertently controlling the narrative?
Of course, there is no shortage of resources available to help you master the art of the user interview. What I’ve found helpful, though, is thinking of the person I’m speaking with on a hero’s journey of their own. My job is to understand:
What is the “old world”: what does their world look like today, and what challenges do they face?
What is the “new world”: what would their world look like if those challenges were remedied?
Ultimately, building products is about transitioning users from their old world to a new world. Our job as builders is to figure out which bridges are missing, and then to choose the one that is most critical. That’s the hardest part.
For many of us, this shift in focus during user interviews—from broad exploration of a problem to identifying the thing that is preventing that user from completing their hero’s journey—is a small one, especially if we’re already hyper-focused on human-centered design. But it’s one worth trying. Let me know if it helps this week as you interact with users.
Raman at Rhetoric
📚 What’s made me a better storyteller this week
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