Daily UX Crash Course: 5 of 31

Often in UX — especially at the start of something new — you will need to get information from real people. So, today we will learn:

How to Ask People Questions


(New to the UX Crash Course? Start here.)


3 basic types of questions:

Open Questions“How would you describe me?” — This allows for a wide range of answers, and works well when you want all the feedback you can get.

Leading Questions“What are my sexiest features?” — This narrows the answers to a certain type. My example assumes that I have some sexy qualities, which might not be true! Be careful: this type of question also excludes answers you might want to know!

Closed/Direct Questions“Which is sexier, my elbows or my knees?” — This type of question offers a choice. Yes or no. This or that. But remember: if the options are stupid, the results will be stupid.


Some examples of subjective research:

Interviews — Get somebody and ask them a set of questions, one-by-one.

Observation — Give people tasks or instructions and watch them use your design, without help. Afterward, you can ask them questions.

Focus Groups — Get a bunch of people in a room together and ask them to discuss your questions.Note: Confident people often persuade others in the group, and a few random people are an unreliable example of anything, which is why I would rather set myself on fire than do a focus group in real life.

Surveys — A form, which people answer on paper or online. These can genuinely feel anonymous, which is useful.

Card-Sorting — Each person gets a set of ideas or categories (on cards or post-its), which they sort into groups that make sense. After many people have done this it gives you an idea of how your menu should look. ProTip: don’t use your colleagues for this. Use normal users.

Google — It’s amazing how many useful opinions you can find online, for free, right now.



  • Ask the same questions, the same way, to everyone.

  • Avoid interpreting questions or suggesting answers.

  • People might lie to avoid embarrassment or if it seems like you prefer a particular answer.

  • Take notes or record the interview. Do not rely on your memory, ever.

  • Don’t eat yellow snow.

Tomorrow we will learn how to use your research to create user profiles…