Interviewing over text won’t give you the nitty-gritty of someone’s thought process and functional steps, and it won’t surface the emotional or social elements.
I’ve found that people are more willing to be open on the phone. (I say on the phone intentionally. People can be much more guarded on Zoom or in person.) Responding and following up shows that you care and are listening, which is feedback they wouldn’t get over text, and you can get them talking. Especially when it comes to more sensitive topics, like how they feel about the tools they use or whether they need signoff to use a new tool.
Those emotional and social elements may sound fluffy… but they’re critical.
Who has the purchasing power in an organization is a social element. How the restrictive terms of service of their previous vendor made them frustrated and want to find something new is an emotional element. Social and emotional elements can be make-or-break.
When I first started Typo CI, I didn’t reach out & talk to my users. I only talked to a small handful of people I knew quite well.
Recently I followed the advice from Michele Hansen & I started talking to my users. I found out I had a lot of faults with Typo CI which would require a lot of work to fix.
The big discovery I’ve had was “the users who want to use Typo CI, often don’t have the right level of permission within their organisation to install it”. For example, a developer may want to help improve the spelling within their codebase by adding Typo CI, but to do this they need their boss to install it. This extra bit of friction would lead to the idea of installing Typo CI being suggested, but just never actioned.
The developers loved what he made. But they didn’t have the permission to install it—only their boss did (a social dimension). And this led them to not use it, and ultimately, for Mike to have to shut it down.
(I give Mike huge kudos for sharing this story and allowing others to learn vicariously through his experience.)