A Deep Dive into In-depth Interviews for User Experience Research

In-depth interview (IDI) is a prime methodology for user experience (UX) research. These interviews help you dig into the motivations, behaviors, and needs of your users—the why’s behind the why’s—offering invaluable, in-depth insights that inform digital experience design.

Let’s explore how you can use in-depth interviews to improve your users’ experiences.

Why Use In-depth Interviews in UX Research?

Two individuals engaged in a live video call on Voxpopme for interviews.

In-depth interviews let you have structured yet open conversations with your users, so you can learn about their lives, experiences, and challenges — detailed personal insights that, unlike quantitative methods, help you measure user behavior and explore the ‘why’ behind their actions.

As the researcher, you learn answers to questions like:

  • What are the most basic needs, goals, and objectives that drive our users when interacting with our product or service?
  • What specific problems, frustrations, and obstacles do our users face?
  • In what physical, social, and cultural contexts do our users interact with our products or services?
  • What are the actual behaviors, habits, and routines of our users, including how they currently use our products or services and any workarounds they have developed?
  • How do our users perceive this product or service, including their subjective opinions, beliefs, and attitudes?
  • What are our users’ overall satisfaction levels with a product or service, including what they like and dislike, and their suggestions for improvement?

The insights generated from these conversations help you build user-centric designs that show empathy for your user’s needs, pain points, and preferences.

For this to be possible, there needs to be a structured way to go about interviewing participants for UX research.

How to Plan and Prepare for In-Depth Interviews

A man carefully drafting a research survey plan on paper with a pencil.

The success of IDIs begins with thorough planning and preparation. This is where you set objectives, recruit research respondents, and design an effective discussion guide.

1. Identify objectives for UX-focused in-depth interviews

What are the key themes you wish to explore? Your objectives may range from understanding user challenges with a specific feature to gaining insights into broader usage or attitude patterns.

Clear objectives will guide the direction of the IDIs and ensure that the information gathered is relevant and valuable. Here’s how you go about it:

  • First, identify aspects of your product or service that require deeper user understanding
  • Determine how users interact with your product and what drives their behavior
  • Assess how users feel about your product and what improvements they desire.

2. Select and recruit the right participants

The goal here is to recruit research respondents who represent your user base accurately. To achieve this, you first need to establish criteria for participant selection based on your research objectives and the user personas you aim to understand.

Also, strive for a diverse group of participants to gain a broad range of insights. You can use channels like social media, user databases, recruitment agencies, or a custom research community (like Voxpopme’s, which have an 80% show rate) to find suitably diverse participants.

Consider offering incentives to encourage participation and show appreciation for their time and input.

3. Design interview questions: Open-ended and user-centric approaches

The design of interview questions is a critical component of your preparation. Questions should be open-ended to allow for detailed responses and should focus on the user’s perspective.

  1. Open-ended questions: Frame questions that encourage elaboration, such as “How do you typically use our product?” or “What challenges have you encountered?”
  2. User-centric approach: Ensure questions center on the user’s experiences, feelings, and opinions.
  3. Flexible structure: While having a set of prepared research questions is essential, be flexible enough to explore interesting points that arise during the conversation.
  4. Avoid leading questions: Craft questions that don’t bias the participant’s responses, ensuring genuine and unbiased feedback.

We go deeper into how to write research questions.

How to Conduct Effective In-Depth Interviews for UX Research

A group of people are shown in voxpopme live interviews on a screen.

Let’s explore best practices for conducting these IDIs, whether in-person or remotely:

1. Set the right environment and tone for candid responses

A comfortable and welcoming environment helps you elicit candid responses. Interviewees should feel respected, understood, and valued for their insights. Here are some strategies to achieve this:

  1. Begin with a casual conversation to build rapport. Discuss non-sensitive topics to put the interviewee at ease.
  2. Reassure participants that their responses will be kept confidential and used solely for research.
  3. Choose a neutral and quiet location for in-person interviews to minimize distractions and make the participant feel safe and comfortable.
  4. Clearly explain the purpose of the interview and how their feedback will contribute to improving the user experience.

2. Practice active listening

Active listening is core to the success of in-depth interviews. It not only shows respect for the interviewee but also encourages them to share more detailed and profound insights.

Quick tips to practice active listening in your next IDI session:

  1. Paraphrase and repeat back what the interviewee has said to show understanding and encourage them to expand on their points.
  2. Use open-ended questions like “Can you tell me more about that?” to encourage deeper user insights.
  3. Pay attention to body language and facial expressions, especially during sensitive topics, to gauge comfort levels and probe appropriately.
  4. Take notes unobtrusively or consider recording the session (with permission) to focus more on the conversation and less on documentation.

Invite recorder@voxpopme.com to your interviews to get instant insights from your IDIs and focus groups from Voxpopme. Try it out.

Invite voxpopme recorder to your interviews.

Analyze Your Interview Data/Recordings for UX Insights

A computer screen displaying a sentiment analysis of a video chat between a man and a woman.

Once you’ve conducted in-depth interviews, the next crucial step is analyzing the qualitative data you’ve generated into impactful UX insights.

This analysis stage involves:

  • Deciphering the nuances of user feedback
  • Identifying common themes and patterns, and
  • Converting these insights into actionable UX improvements

With a systemic approach to qualitative data analysis, you can interpret the rich, narrative data gathered from interviews. Here are some effective strategies:

  1. Thematic analysis: Begin by carefully transcribing the interviews. Read through the transcripts multiple times to familiarize yourself with the data. Identify recurring ideas or expressions and categorize them into themes.
  2. Coding: Use coding to label and organize the data. Codes can be descriptive, inferential, or pattern codes. Coding software can aid in managing and sorting through large amounts of qualitative data.
  3. Comparative analysis: Compare responses across different interviews to identify similarities and differences. This approach helps in understanding varied user perspectives.
  4. Iterative review: UX research is an iterative process. Reviewing and re-analyzing the data multiple times ensures you don’t miss any critical insight.

How you can identify common themes and patterns

First off, look for patterns in responses that indicate common user experiences or perceptions. Then, assemble individual responses into broader user stories or journeys. This method helps in visualizing the user’s experience with the product from start to finish.

Use visual tools like mind maps or affinity diagrams to organize themes and patterns visually, making complex data more understandable.

The analysis part of your IDIs is incredibly time consuming, often taking days to watch your recordings repeatedly. It doesn’t have to be—when you use tools like Voxpopme AI Insights, your interview recordings are turned into insights in seconds.

Voxpopme AI Insights generating insights from video research recording

AI Insights, a product of Voxpopme’s collaboration with Microsoft, integrates OpenAI’s ChatGPT into the Voxpopme qualitative insights platform. This allows you to ‘chat’ with your video research data.

Imagine asking hours of your interview recordings, “What are the most basic needs that drive our users when interacting with our product?” and you get:

  • A complete response to your question pulled from the data you provided
  • Timestamps pointing you to the exact source of that response
  • Usable insights in seconds without having to watch and rewatch your interview recordings

That’s the power of AI Insights.

Analyze qualitative insights 60x faster at the 35% cost.

Finally, this is all worth it when you turn your insights into action.

Integrate In-depth Interview Insights into UX Design

A person drawing  UX design on paper with a pen.

After analyzing the interview data, synthesize the findings into key insights. Create a summary that highlights the most impactful observations and suggestions from users. AI Insights can help you with this and you can create a showreel—without the need for 3rd party video editing tools—that comprises your research project’s highlight.

This showreel will help you communicate your research findings with your executive team and other teammates in an impactful way — in the actual voice of your interviewees. And all without the need of learning video editing tools or hiring a video production agency.

You’ll also want to align each insight with specific aspects of your UX design. This could involve interface layout, navigation flow, feature sets, or content strategy.

Use the insights to develop prototypes for new designs or modifications. Prototypes should be focused on addressing the specific user needs and challenges identified in the interviews.

Then, conduct concept testing and/or usability testing with the new prototypes. Gather feedback on these iterations and refine the design progressively, ensuring it resonates with the user’s expectations and experiences.


UX research has proven itself as a worthy investment — with Forrester reporting that every $1 invested in UX produces a return of $100 (that is a 9,900% ROI). To make the most of your organization’s investment in UX, it’s crucial to include in-depth interviews in your user research toolbox.

Remember that an effective IDI for UX research starts with thorough planning and preparation. Then, use best practices for conducting the research and analyzing your findings. You can streamline your IDI workflow and gain a 91% boost in efficiency by using Live Interviews.

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