IAT-334: 06 Talking to Humans

Talking to Humans

Lecture outline

In this week's lecture we will be covering how to interview users.

Talking to Humans

Close all laptops please! (Back row is excluded)

Given the context, why might a multi-bank-account managing application be challenging?
What might be some of the considerations specific to a chat app for middle-schoolers?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with live video/photos?
Laseau's Funnel of design

Why We Interview

As designers, we can use interviews to understand a group of individuals, their experiences and behaviours in context. Be careful to keep in mind:


As part of this week you will decide what domain and context you may want to work in. Be as specific as possible, so when you begin talking with individuals within that context your job in defining the context will be made easier.


A general structure you can work with to get you started:

Check Yourself

(Before You Wreck Yourself)

As an interviewer you want to avoid bringing your own biases and opinions, as this can influence how the interviewee responds.

'Bias' Dump

What assumptions do you have about new parents?

You have...

A photo of Donald Trump
Photo: Nati Hamik, AP
The Society for Asking Stupid Questions
Stick people demonstrating different body language


Keep It Professional

Yes, you are a student, but this doesn't mean that you have to act like one.

P03: UI Design

Why Are We Here?

Given that going into your interviews you should have an understanding of the domain and context you are working in, what is our interview for then?

A Structured Approach

When interviewing, there are a couple of approaches we can take:

A Semi-Structured Approach

For the purpose of this course we recommend a semi-structured approach. This enables you to pre-plan materials, while allowing for the interviewee to lead the answers where they need.

Building a Script

As part of your semi-structured approach, you will want to build a script for you to follow. Included in the script should be:

Asking for Permission

It is important that your interviewee understand the why and what you are doing. This ensures that they can safely agree to participate in what you are doing.

Permission Requirements

Before interviewing your users, you need to make sure that they understand:

A photo of Donald Trump
Photo: Nati Hamik, AP

Ethical Data Options

Given that cloud services often cannot guarantee the physical location of your data will stay in Canada, I would recommend working with SFU-based tools such as Canvas Groups or SFU Vault to store research data.

The Society for Asking Stupid Questions

Asking Questions

As much as possible in an interview exploring someone's experience, we want to ask open-ended questions as opposed to close-ended questions.

Open-ended: "Can you tell me about your experience as a parent?"

Close-ended: "What three things do you love most about your experience as a parent?"

Building Questions

An approach to building questions is to consider what do you want to find out about. From there we can check our biases and try to build out a question that could give us the information we are looking for.

Given our earlier 'new parents' audience and the domain of 'parenting', please come up with what you might want to find out about, and what you would ask to find that out. Submit both (legibly) to https://ah1.ca/questions when done.

You have...

Building Questions

Part 2

Please review with your neighbour what you were looking to find out, and what question you would pose to find it out. Please discuss:

Advanced Questions

Sometimes words are not enough to effectively get the response you want. Later on in the project, you will use your prototype to garner more specific or detailed responses from your users. Keep in mind that props, materials, and the ability to generate a response with more than words can be important.

Stick people demonstrating different body language

Team Roles

There are many of you on the team, as a result, it is important that everyone has a clear role during the interview:

Taking Notes

Just like with the interview questions, it is important that notes you take check your biases. You should aim to capture unbiased explanations of the interviewee as much as possible.


Internal Distortion

Internal distortion happens in interviews when there are problems with:

These are things that you can control.

External Distortion

External distortion happens in interviews when there are problems with:

These are things that you do not control as strongly.

Any questions?

P03 Schedule

Feb 20: Research week exploring domains, context, and humans.

Feb 27: Ideation week generating potential design directions.

Mar 6: Proposal week presenting your UI proposal. (Worth 15%)

Mar 13: Prototyping week for generating high-fidelity, interactive prototypes of your application.

Mar 20: Testing week for finding flaws and improving your prototype.

Mar 27: Refinement and final presentation development week. (Worth 20%)

Domain Refinement

Once we have some research done, we can add on a bit more:

Device Decisions

Given you will be researching and best at understanding your audience, it will be up to you to decide what kind of device it makes the most sense to design for. As part of your research you should familiarize yourself with the design guidelines of that platform.

P03 Proposal

Your proposal for P03 — due Mar 13 — is to create a document and pitch arguing for why we should even care about the proposed interactive system. You will develop this argument with all of your preceding week's work.

P03 Locals

There are a couple of local organizations that are interested in having students work on their challenges. If you are interested please let Andrew know as soon as possible.

Any questions?

UI Sketchbook

Sketch #6

Based on your research from P03 for this week, your sketching task is meant to help you 'see' the domain, context, and individual you are designing for. Please create one sketch that predominantly visually (not textually) can provide at a glance the following:

Please scan your sketches into *one JPG* and submit them to this assignment before the deadline. You will be graded on *completion* as well as *readability* of your sketches.

In This Week's Labs...

You will be presenting your feature options, and getting started on P03.

In Next Week's Lecture

More on the 'human' side of user interfaces.

Contacting Andrew