how do you record your interviews?

13 Jul 2007 - 10:37am
7 years ago
10 replies
783 reads
tdellaringa
2006

I've got some user interviews coming up next week and I'm wondering how you
all record them, or if you even do record them. It will be a mixture of face
to face and phone meetings. At least one meeting will be held outside. Any
recording device would have to be really flexible.

Am I better off just listening really well and taking summary notes and not
worrying about recording?

Thanks

Tom

Comments

13 Jul 2007 - 11:01am
Joseph Selbie
2007

Tom,

We tend toward notes when we do our interviews. Occasionally we use a
recording as a back up to the notes. While recording the interviews will
clearly capture more detail, we found that their big drawback is in
transferring the information they contain to others who were not in the
interview. While it is easy to pass on digital files to other team members,
or make them available through a project intranet, the other team members
have to listen to the entire interview if they want to learn what the
interviewer already knows. Notes are briefer, more scannable for specific
information, and eliminate the chaff.

Because it is hard to take thorough notes and conduct a good interview at
the same time, we do all our interviews in pairs, where one person takes the
notes and the other interviews (and we generally trade roles when doing
interview after interview so that one person in the pair does not have to do
all the note taking). After the interviews are conducted we find it best if
the note taker writes up their notes for other team members asap to avoid
memory issues.

Regards,
Joseph

Joseph Selbie
Founder and CEO
Tristream
530-477-5777 x-202
530-277-6326 cell
jselbie at tristream.com
www.tristream.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Tom
Dell'Aringa
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2007 9:37 AM
To: IxDA Discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] how do you record your interviews?

I've got some user interviews coming up next week and I'm wondering how you
all record them, or if you even do record them. It will be a mixture of face
to face and phone meetings. At least one meeting will be held outside. Any
recording device would have to be really flexible.

Am I better off just listening really well and taking summary notes and not
worrying about recording?

Thanks

Tom
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

13 Jul 2007 - 11:03am
Vishal Subraman...
2005

I'v ealways recorded my interviews and found them to be incredibly
useful. Even if you have a dedicated note-taker, capturing the depth
of interviews is a difficult task. Besides, its nice to be able to
revisit the complete (or parts) interview. We just used a basic
digital recorder- this way its easier to transfer to transcription
services if needed.

In any case, its a cheap, easy way of capturing data. Why not do it? I
did it in a university environment, so had to get approval from the
IRB's & the user as well. Its always a good practice (with a few
exceptions) to not only inform the user, but get written approval
before doing any Design Research involving people.

--
-Vishal
http://www.vishaliyer.com

> I've got some user interviews coming up next week and I'm wondering how you
> all record them, or if you even do record them. It will be a mixture of face
> to face and phone meetings. At least one meeting will be held outside. Any
> recording device would have to be really flexible.
>
> Am I better off just listening really well and taking summary notes and not
> worrying about recording?

13 Jul 2007 - 11:07am
Vishal Subraman...
2005

I must add that we did both. Besides what Joseph mentioned, notes
taken in context may be better- especially in our case, where the
interview was coupled with Task Analysis. And we always had a
dedicated note taker.

> I've always recorded my interviews and found them to be incredibly
> useful. Even if you have a dedicated note-taker, capturing the depth
> of interviews is a difficult task. Besides, its nice to be able to
> revisit the complete (or parts) interview. We just used a basic
> digital recorder- this way its easier to transfer to transcription
> services if needed.
>
> In any case, its a cheap, easy way of capturing data. Why not do it? I
> did it in a university environment, so had to get approval from the
> IRB's & the user as well. Its always a good practice (with a few
> exceptions) to not only inform the user, but get written approval
> before doing any Design Research involving people.

--
-Vishal
http://www.vishaliyer.com

13 Jul 2007 - 11:08am
White, Jeff
2007

That's a tough one, and my opinion is you have to find what works
best for you. If you're good at establishing trust with your
participant, I think you can get away with recording. In the past
I've used a small digital recorder. Currently I have a Sony IC
recorder, ICD-SX25. You record, then plug into your computer and go
from there. For over the phone interviews, you might want to go with
a service like global crossing that offers recording. They'll send
you a CD, or you can download it from the web.

Here's what I don't like about recording: 1) It makes some people
really nervous and 2) You have to spend more time transcribing it.

We're doing Agile right now, so we've been going with one
interviewer and 1 note taker and forgetting about recording
altogether. We debrief immediately after and verbally communicate our
"A-ha's" to the rest of the team.

Are you doing these interviews by yourself? If so, it will be really
really difficult to do a good job conducting the interview AND taking
good notes at the same time. It might be best for you to record if
you don't have a note taker.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18237

13 Jul 2007 - 11:27am
Becubed
2004

If you're able to record your interviews, I'll echo previous suggestions to
consider transcribing them. I've gone this route a few times and find it's
very helpful: like having a full-text search of everything you talked about
with participants.

Next time I conduct interviews, I plan to test-drive the transcription
service from CastingWords. Quite affordable at $0.75/minute. And interesting
because it uses Amazon's Mechanical Turk model -- transcription is
"parallelized" by distributing to humans around the world.

http://www.castingwords.com/
http://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome

Anyone used CastingWords and care to share their experience?

--
Robert Barlow-Busch
Terapath Inc.
bbb at terapath.net
www.chopsticker.com

13 Jul 2007 - 11:39am
Phillip Hunter
2006

> For over the phone interviews, you might want to go with
> a service like global crossing that offers recording. They'll send
> you a CD, or you can download it from the web.

There is also a suite of devices you can select from to record from the
telephone. Here's the most used, http://www.jkaudio.com/that-1.htm, but
there are others on that site.

ph

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of jeff
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2007 1:08 PM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] how do you record your interviews?

That's a tough one, and my opinion is you have to find what works
best for you. If you're good at establishing trust with your
participant, I think you can get away with recording. In the past
I've used a small digital recorder. Currently I have a Sony IC
recorder, ICD-SX25. You record, then plug into your computer and go
from there. For over the phone interviews, you might want to go with
a service like global crossing that offers recording. They'll send
you a CD, or you can download it from the web.

Here's what I don't like about recording: 1) It makes some people
really nervous and 2) You have to spend more time transcribing it.

We're doing Agile right now, so we've been going with one
interviewer and 1 note taker and forgetting about recording
altogether. We debrief immediately after and verbally communicate our
"A-ha's" to the rest of the team.

Are you doing these interviews by yourself? If so, it will be really
really difficult to do a good job conducting the interview AND taking
good notes at the same time. It might be best for you to record if
you don't have a note taker.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18237

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

13 Jul 2007 - 11:45am
andrew_hinton a...
2007

I've found that recording is excellent as an archival measure, for
retrieving specific bits you may need later, and good for sending out for
transcripts when you have the budget & time.

However, in practice, the recordings aren't used much in actual design
work. Most people don't have time to sit and listen (or re-listen) to
hours of interview recordings. They just won't take the time to do it. But
they are sometimes excepted to great effect, when showing research results
in presentations and whatnot.

The challenge is getting that highly tacit knowledge of the interview by
just a couple of interviewers to somehow transfer as explicit knowledge to
a larger team.

This is where I've found the Contextual Design methods incredibly useful.
(The book on amazon: http://tinyurl.com/yqgswl)

They call it an "Interpretation Session." Basically, you have the
interviewers "tell the story" of the interview to the rest of the design
team, which (in a sense) interviews the interviewers. It's important to do
it very soon after the interview, because then intangibles that didn't
make it into notes often come out in the conversation.

As you're doing this together, someone is drawing visual models of what
was learned, and someone else is taking notes that everyone else can see
(it works great to project it on a screen so everyone can collaborate in
what goes into those notes), where you capture insights, triggers, even
design ideas that pop into the conversation for later development. These
bits end up being the fodder for "consolidation" where you affinitize
everything from across interviews. The visual models are excellent
shorthand -- if hung up around the room, they end up being quick ways to
remind yourself about each person's story and the group's interpretation
of it, without having to re-read notes or transcripts.

Of course many of you are probably already very familiar with this. And
I've probably described it poorly -- but I think it's a brilliant way to
do this stuff. Otherwise, the amazing experience of the interview just
stays with the one or two people who did it, and others only can get
contextually bereft bullet-notes that really don't translate to the kind
of knowledge a design team needs to have their users "under their skin,"
so to speak.

---
Andrew Hinton
www.inkblurt.com

Robert Barlow-Busch <bbb at terapath.net>
Sent by: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
07/13/2007 01:27 PM

To
IxDA List <discuss at ixda.org>
cc

Subject
Re: [IxDA Discuss] how do you record your interviews?

If you're able to record your interviews, I'll echo previous suggestions
to
consider transcribing them. I've gone this route a few times and find it's
very helpful: like having a full-text search of everything you talked
about
with participants.

Next time I conduct interviews, I plan to test-drive the transcription
service from CastingWords. Quite affordable at $0.75/minute. And
interesting
because it uses Amazon's Mechanical Turk model -- transcription is
"parallelized" by distributing to humans around the world.

http://www.castingwords.com/
http://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome

Anyone used CastingWords and care to share their experience?

--
Robert Barlow-Busch
Terapath Inc.
bbb at terapath.net
www.chopsticker.com

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

----------------------------------------------------------------------
CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT. The information contained in this e-mail message, including attachments, is the confidential information of, and/or is the property of, Vanguard. The information is intended for use solely by the individual or entity named in the message. If you are not an intended recipient or you received this in error, then any review, printing, copying, or distribution of any such information is prohibited, and please notify the sender immediately by reply e-mail and then delete this e-mail from your system.

13 Jul 2007 - 12:40pm
Keith Mascheroni
2007

i find them to be useful as well - especially when dealing with highly complex and/or obscure subject matter that\'s foreign to me.

in cases where i\'m dealing with how an existing UI is being used, i might videotape a session. in simpler interview cases such as (i think) you\'re describing, i usually use my ipod with a griffen italk. it\'s great because i can record many hours at a time, and i end up with a set of mp3s that i can work with/edit and share easily.

14 Jul 2007 - 12:29am
Bill Fernandez
2007

I take a small, hand-held digital recorder to interviews.

At the outset I show the recorder and ask if anyone minds if I record my notes.

Then I ask questions, and listen very carefully.

At logical points I turn on the recorder and dictate a summary or
paraphrase of what was communicated, then ask "did I get that right?"
Interviewees can clarify or correct or embellish as desired, then I
dictate any necessary further notes.

This follows the active listening paradigm where you periodically
repeat back in your own words what you thought was said, and ask for
confirmation that you understood what was intended.

It also produces a recording that consists only of the essential,
concisely-stated points.

Later, back at the office, I transcribe the notes into a text file;
rephrasing, embellishing, reorganizing as needed to put all the
material together into a pithy, logical flow of ideas that is
(hopefully) easy for future readers to understand and use.

FWIW,
Bill

At 11:37 AM -0500 7/13/07, Tom Dell'Aringa wrote:
>I've got some user interviews coming up next week and I'm wondering how you
>all record them, or if you even do record them. It will be a mixture of face
>to face and phone meetings. At least one meeting will be held outside. Any
>recording device would have to be really flexible.
>
>Am I better off just listening really well and taking summary notes and not
>worrying about recording?

--

======================================================================
Bill Fernandez * User Interface Architect * Bill Fernandez Design

(505) 346-3080 * bf_list1 AT billfernandez DOT com *
http://billfernandez.com
======================================================================

15 Jul 2007 - 10:37am
k lenox
2006

I am assuming these interviews are for user research and not
articles/podcasts.

When in person, I record with a small digital audio recorder, then
have it transcribed. Always show the recorder and ask if they are OK
with being recorded. Most people forget about it quickly and enjoy
being listened to - they are important.

I will also have a video recording happening as well. It's quite
handy when the participant wants to show you the problem they are
experiencing with the device or software, etc. These turn into
excellent video highlights to share with the broader team who may
need convincing regarding the design changes you may be recommending.

I also try to have a dedicated notetaker, rather than me taking
notes. This way I can stay focused on their responses and leading the
questions appropriately. I've also started having the notetaker write
the notes on wide post-it notes. This helps in the data analysis phase
when you might want to cluster the notes into themes. The challenge
with the notetaker is they have to understand what needs to be noted,
otherwise the gems can be missed. But that's where the transcripts
come in. They should be reviewed for things missed.

For phone interviews we have accuconference, which is easy to record
the conversation. Within a few minutes the audio is ready to download
from their site. They do transcriptions too, but I'm told it's more
expensive than our transcription service (escriptionist).

Hope these suggestions help. Good luck with your interviews.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18237

Syndicate content Get the feed