In this week’s tutorial, we read user interviews in an effort to build empathy, identify pain points, and begin to thematically group user needs and motivations.

We began by reading transcripts of the interviews and highlighting key points. Focusing on frustrations, needs and motivations allowed me to get into this particular user’s headspace and understand more about how he likes to travel and plan, as well as circumstances that caused him to have a less than ideal experience.

Next, we wrote key ideas down on post it notes and shared with group members who had read different interviews. As we read out our notes, themes began to emerge, and we clustered like notes together. During this sharing process, we clustered and re-clustered the notes as we refined the themes.

We then used the groupings to create over-arching “I statements”, in order to take on the voice of the customer and really build a shared understanding. Lastly, we moved like themes near like themes and then gave these larger groups headings. With more time available, these headings would allow us to quickly summarize the research and begin brainstorming possible design solutions for these problem spaces.

Working in a group and listening to points from a spectrum of users is extremely helpful when trying to create or refine a new product. I especially love how an isolated comment can grow into a complete theme when feedback from other users is also pulled in.

The challenge with doing this in class was mostly due to the time restriction. It felt a bit rushed, and I would have liked the opportunity to sit with the downloaded info and do another round of the groupings at a later time.

This method of synthesis following user interviews is one I’m familiar with from my work experience. It’s a great way to get the whole team involved and ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the user needs. At work, we might spend several days doing this kind of exercise, grouping and re-grouping the notes until we’re sure we have the right themes. We often do this in a public space and allow members from the wider team to contribute as well.