Interviewing people to understand their food buying habits

I carried out interviews with a variety of users and non-users of online grocery shopping. Through prior research, I learnt that it is imperative to make sure they feel comfortable so they can speak openly and freely. I also discovered that it is essential to let them speak. It sounds obvious, but it is very easy for the interviewer to step in a cut off the person, right before they were about to say a really useful point. I found that these interviews work best when the interviewer barely even speaks. After the interviewee has made their point or answered the question, I remained silent for a few seconds. What was initially surprising was that almost every time, in that few seconds of silence they would start talking about an additional point that was extremely valuable to the research.

I was noting down the key points on an iPad and collated all the responses through a Google Forms form. I set up a form with my key questions in, and as people were talking, I typed their answers in the relevant boxes. This enabled them to speak freely and honestly with no restrictions, however after each interview Google Forms automatically collated the responses into the appropriate sections meaning the quantitative data was easy to review afterwards. The use of a Google Forms file meant I was always reminded of what questions to ask and it helped me ensure I asked each person about the same issues and didn't go off track. It is very easy for interviews to go off track and become a discussion, so it is vital that the talk stays relevant to the design problem, so that the information is usable. When planning the questions, I made sure there was a selection that talked about the food process in general such as; 'how do you plan your food shopping? What’s the process? What do you like about shopping in supermarkets? Why do you shop at your current supermarket?'

This meant that even if there interviewee doesn't use existing online shopping services, I could use their responses from these questions to influence how the online process could be. I am looking at the whole experience of discovering, choosing and buying food, so it is valuable to understand how people feel about the food experience in both a physical store and online. 

FMP, PracticeAdam Marsh