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User Research & Interviewing

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Challenge introduction

User research is a vital step in crafting a great user experience. And yet it is often neglected in projects that are otherwise well run. Often a client or internal team believes that they already understand the problems of their audience well enough that they can skip research and move on to the "fun stuff".

Conducting a systematic study into the habits and needs of your users allows you to identify key insights that you might remain oblivious to otherwise. No single interview or piece of data is effective in revealing hidden truths about the problem you’re working on. You must construct a process that is effective in exposing you to the needs and problems you are incapable of anticipating on your own. Effective research is the first step in building something that users want and need.

Background research

Challenge outline

You will be identifying potential users of a 3D sensing camera, the Structure Sensor from Occipital. Your job is to learn as much as possible about these people and to create a body of research that the Occipital team can act on. You will all be working together on this challenge to outline an effective research framework and put it to use.

Think of users that would derive value from the Structure Sensor when its functionality and price tag (including associated table/phone hardware) are considered. You’re exploring a vertical of users for which the sensor would create value, not speculating on what would be fun and interesting. Your research needs to point towards a solution that would be viable in the market.

Recommended process

  1. Start by going over the background research listed above. Discuss as a group and individually with your mentors.

  2. Work as a group to brainstorm as many possible users of the product as possible. Specifically, try to identify industries that could use the hardware to reduce the pain inherent to parts of their job.

  3. As a group, conduct background research (literature review) into these possible users of the platform and choose at least 3 user types/industries that you believe would benefit the most from a product or service built with this hardware.

  4. Attempt to locate and interview actual members of these industries so you can reach a greater understanding of their job and the pains they currently experience. Do not suggest ideas to them, you’re looking for them to suggest natural pain points in their current process so you can create a solution specific to how they work.

  5. Based on the research and interviews you’ve conducted select one user type/industry and outline your recommendations on next steps to better understand a problem you’ve identified that you could solve for them with a product built around the Structure Sensor.

  6. Based on the reading you’ve done for this challenge, and the actual interview experience you’ve gained, draft a framework for conducting user research and interviews on future projects.


  • Your brainstorm information regarding specific users/industries that could benefit from a product built around the Structure Sensor. This should include the various pains you’ve hypothesized are a part of their jobs that you think you could solve.

  • An outline of the user research on the 3 user types/industries you’ve chosen to focus on, as well as your reasons for selecting them.

  • Interview notes from the different users you spoke with.

  • The final user type/industry you selected and your recommendations for next steps in exploring a problem you identified in your interviews/research.

  • A framework for conducting a research process and an explanation of why you’ve made An outline of the most important things learned from the process about the skills of user research and interviewing.


3 weeks from the assignment of the project.