4 Tips from Santa for Facilitating User Interviews

I took my son to see Santa Claus this past weekend. A bit early, I know, but it was a surprise that he was at the petting zoo we visited. What I realized, though, was that we can learn from Santa when it comes to conducting user interviews.

User Interviews: Don’t assume you know what they want.

Although he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, and he knows if you have been bad or good… he doesn’t assume he knows what you want for Christmas. As good as we can be as User Experience Designers, anticipating what we think users may or may not want, it is always best to ask and confirm through user interviews. Santa takes the time to sit down with each child and ask them what they REALLY want for Christmas. Children love it because they have a direct impact on exactly what their Christmas morning experience will be.

User Interviews: Validate “wants” against business protocols.

As we were waiting in line, I asked my son what he was going to tell Santa he wanted. He told me he wants a motorbike. My son is 7, and he IS NOT getting a motorbike. I tried to tell him Santa may not think he is old enough for a motorbike, and he may want to ask for something else.

Nonetheless, when the time came, he told Santa he wanted a motorbike. It was at this time, that Santa managed the situation well. He looked up at me and asked if I thought it was the right time to get a motorbike. As it was not the right time for him to get a motorbike, Santa was able to redirect the situation, and my son was able to ask for something he could more likely get instead.

This was a great reminder that “wants” discovered during user interviews don’t always align with business protocols or even possibilities. I remember one client that wanted an “easy” button that would auto-populate and complete their work. There was obviously a myriad of reasons, this wasn’t feasible.

User Interviews: Give them a reason to believe in you.

It may seem inconceivable that you can just tell a jolly old man in a red suit what you want for Christmas, and he’ll bring it to you. I mean, Christmas is still more than a month away. How can a child be confident that Santa will deliver? In our case, Santa gave my son a candy cane and told him he can’t wait to come to our house. It may seem like a small gesture, but if Santa can just give away candy canes, he can surely get the gift you REALLY want!

It’s important during user interviews to instill that same amount of confidence. People want to know that they have been heard and that YOU are going to be the catalyst to give them what they want. Make sure you are repeating back what you hear and validating what they are telling you.

User Interviews: Santa delivers, and so should you.

The absolute best thing Santa does is deliver presents! It is the final step in making Christmas morning a magical experience. As experience designers ourselves, we need to make sure we absolutely deliver as well. We deliver based on what we learned in user interviews and validated through user testing. Because if we don’t deliver, our users will stop believing in what we do.

  • Sunny Townsend says:

    Dropped by to tell you how well I appreciate your work ethic. Keep up the good work 👏.

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