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How To Avoid Bias in UX Research

When conducting user research, we need to be strategic about how we ask questions and how we run the test. Here are some useful points to keep in mind.

Recently I stumbled upon the article How To Avoid Bias in UX Research, with pointers on how to anticipate, identify and overcome biases in your research by being more strategic about how you ask questions and how you run the test. A concise write-up by Genís Frigola.

Here are some useful points (with a few additions from my end):

  • Check your emotions: be boring and neutral.

  • Talk less, listen and observe instead.

  • Think carefully about the sequence of questions.

  • Ask a question, then get out of the way.

  • Let users follow their own paths.

  • Never suggest your opinions or views.

  • Never respond positively or negatively.

  • Never use leading words and limit guidance.

  • Watch out for your tone and body language.

  • You don’t need to fill silences — let them be.

  • Avoid close-ended questions or opinions.

  • Repeat what users say and ask if you got it right.

  • Get enough time to recruit the right people.

  • Space out the scheduling of interviews.

  • Ask colleagues to shadow you for second opinions.

Personally, I tend to avoid focus groups as they usually result in a few people taking a lead in the conversation and ultimately guiding other people in their direction, leaving no opportunity for others to make up their mind on their own.

Also, with a wonderful advice by Gerry McGovern, I’ve stopped asking users to walk me through the test as they complete tasks. Instead, I just give them a task and observe them trying to complete it. Whenever issues occur, I ask questions to better understand what the problem actually is.

Further resources

A huge thanks to everyone kindly contributing to all these resources!

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