How to Write Scripts for User Interviews

A script, also called a discussion guide, is a list of tasks and follow-up questions a reseracher presents to participants in the interview portion of a usability study. The important of writing scripts is that it gives you a clear uderstanding of what a user is trying to do, how they think and feel, and what their problems are. Scripts writing will improve your ability to understand users and identify solutions that address their needs. The tasks and following questions should be based on the research questions and KPIs you chose earlier in the study plan.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

A well-rounded script is:

  • Open-ended: task and follow-up questions encourage discussion and reflection rather than short “yes or no” responses
  • Objective: tasks and follow-up questions don’t try to lead participants toward a particular answer or introduce the researcher’s personal bias
  • Goal oriented: tasks and follow-up questions relate directly to the research goal

In addition to your tasks and follow-up questions, a script should always include an introduction at the beginning. This will allow you to gather important demographic data, set a professional tone for the interview, and help your participant feel comfortable.

A good introduction will:

  1. Ask for the participant’s consent to record the interview

2. Inform the participant that the interview is not a test, and that no answer is wrong

3. Assure the participant that it’s okay to ask questions, and explain why their data is being collected

4. Ask for basic information that gives you insights into the participant’s relationship with the product and helps them settle into the interview

In the interview, you’ll be giving tasks to your participants and recording how they respond. Afterward, you’ll ask the participant follow-up questions to see what their experience was like. You’ll write a task prompt and follow-up question for each task you want your participants to complete. These will be based on the KPIs you chose earlier in your study plan. Here are a few tips when coming up with tasks for your usability study:

  • Tasks should be based on your research goals
  • Tasks should be specific
  • Tasks should make participants take direct action
  • Tasks shouldn’t provide clues on how to complete a task

Write your script

Write a script containing tasks and follow-up questions for participants. It should include:

  • An introduction section
  • Prompts for each task you’ll assign study participants
  • Follow-up questions you’ll ask study participants

Here is an example for the CoffeeHouse

Intro:

  • Before we begin, do I have your consent to take both audio and video recordings of this interview?
  • I want you to know that this isn’t a test. There is no “right” anwser, and none of your responses will be considered wrong.
  • If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
  • This data is being collected to help improve a mobile ordering app. Your answers will help us make the app easier for people to use.

Basic questions:

  • What kind of city or town do you live in?
  • Do you have coffee shops near your house?
  • How often do you drink coffee?
  • Do you often to go coffee shop for a coffee or refreshment or social gathering?
  • Do you usually order for yourself, or for a group?
  • Can you talk me through a normal day in your life?

Great! if you’re ready, let’s move onto the tasks you’ll be working on.

  • Prompt 1: Open up the CoffeeHouse app on your phone and customize a drink order for yourself. Do your best to talk me through your thought process
    • Prompt 1 follow-up: How easy or difficult was this task to complete? Is there anything you would change about the process of customize a drink?
  • Prompt 2: If I said, “start a new group order” would you know what to do?
    • Prompt 2 follow-up: Try it out now, please
    • Prompt 2 follow-up: Do you find anthing confusing?
  • Prompt 3: From the existing group order screen, add your custom drink from a moment ago, then add multiple other custom drinks to the same order and proceed to checkout screen.
    • Prompt 3 follow-up: How do you feel about the process of adding multiple orders in just one traction? What was easy and what was challenging?
  • Prompt 4: Finally, checkout and complete the group order.
    • How do you feel about paying for multiple orders in one transaction? How do you feel about the amount of time it took to complete?
  • Prompt 5: How did you feel about this mobile ordering app overall? What did you like and dislike about it?

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