The Art of Asking the Right Questions in Usability Studies

Asking follow-up questions during qualitative UX research helps us gather more in-depth information and clarification from the participants about their experiences, perspectives, and attitudes.

Follow-up questions also can help researchers build rapport with the participant and encourage them to share more detailed and personal information. Overall, follow-up questions are an essential tool for UX researchers to gather rich, meaningful data.

When conducting a usability study, what are some potential follow-up questions that you might ask after the participant completes (or attempts to complete) a task?

To help you form your own questions, consider writing questions that help participants reflect on what they experienced and where the design may have missed the mark.

Frame your questions in order to understand whether or not the design…

  • Fits the user’s mental model
  • Falls short of user expectations
  • Exceeds expectations
  • Emphasizes the primary focus
  • Distracts from the primary focus
  • Gets in the way of the user’s primary goal

Here are the types of questions I like to ask after a usability study participant attempts to complete a task:

1. What are your overall impressions of this experience?

2. Is this the experience you were expecting? Tell me more… What were you expecting instead?

3. When you first saw this [screen], what did you notice first?

4. What was missing from this experience that you expected to see? Tell me more about that.

5. Is there anything about the experience that should be removed or isn’t relevant to you? Tell me more… Why do you feel that way?

6. What do you like best about this experience? Tell me more… Why do you feel that way?

7. What do you dislike (or like least) about this experience? Tell me more… Why do feel that way?

Tip: To speed up my post-task interviews, I bold the keyword in each question so that I can quickly scan my discussion guide.

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Author: Kristine Remer

Kristine Remer is a CX insights leader, UX researcher, and strategist in Minneapolis. She helps organizations drive significant business outcomes by finding and solving customer problems. She never misses the Minnesota State Fair and loves dark chocolate mochas, kayaking, escape rooms, and planning elaborate treasure hunts for her children.