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Business Researching User Needs Learning activity: Field Observation Step-by-Step for Field Observation

Best practices for taking notes

During user research observations and interviews, would the note-taking formats be different? If so, could you please share few formats for interviews and observations.

3 Answers

When I take notes I usually use Google Docs. If I don't have my laptop with me I use pen and paper because I type like a grandmother on my phone.

Here is an awesome Lifehacker article on note taking.

I asked this same question last fall when I started on a new team. It ultimately depends on what works for you as the interviewer, but I've seen a variety of note-taking styles within my team. I've seen a Sr. Business Consultant take free-form notes through a basic Word document, and expand on the observations and action items immediately after a working session. I've seen another Business Consultant take notes through pen and paper, white board any rough process flows, and build final presentation materials on his laptop. I tend to lean towards mind mapping techniques on paper and move the important takeaways to my laptop. Whether it's sticky notes, doodles on a notepad, or detailed diagramming, if it helps you understand the highlights of the interviews, it works. It's just a matter of translating those notes to your audience, i.e. lead or upper management.

Colin - Thanks for sharing the link. An awesome resource.

Luna - Yes, different interviewers have different methods of taking down notes. Thanks for sharing that perspective.

When it comes to documenting interview notes (face-to-face interviews) vs. only observation notes (shadowing the interviewees) , what could be the key considerations if the note taker is not experienced?

Anthony Attard
Anthony Attard
43,915 Points

The main consideration should be to make sure you're not getting distracted with taking notes and that the person doesn't feel like you're listening because you're looking down at your notes, writing the whole time.