THE UX(R) Factor

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Z is for Zoom - A-Z of User Research

December 29, 2020

The MindSpark Team has launched a blog series: The A-Z of User Research (#AtoZuxr). We will be publishing 26 articles through 2020 with each letter of the English alphabet. These pieces all correspond to a relevant topic that relates to conducting global qual & UX research and each has some key takeaways at the end.


Z is for Zoom. What would a blog series written in 2020 about the fundamentals of UXR be without talking about the rising star of qualitative research: Zoom.

Not designed to be a research platform, Zoom was catapulted into our qualitative tool boxes as a result of the global pandemic. People around the world and with varying levels of technical understanding were suddenly forced to master the previously elusive beast that is the video conference call. Everything from board meetings to family gatherings to graduations and weddings were happening via video conference, and Zoom bubbled to the top as the most stable and easy-to-use option.

Security shortcomings aside, which the world was reassured were swiftly dealt with after a few rogue Zoom bombs, the platform boasted a range of simple solutions that transferred swiftly and easily to the world of qualitative user interviews. Its original use may have been for business, but we’ve got a few tips on how you can make the most of it with your users.

Here is a short, and incomplete, list of some of the most common features we use Zoom to conduct user research:

1. The Webinar License

Believe it or not, upgrading to a webinar license might be a great way to conduct interviews--especially if you’ve got people who want to observe the sessions. The benefit of a webinar is that the interviewer and participant can connect as normal, but observers can join the session as “attendees,” making sure that they are not able to disrupt the interview or make the interviewee uncomfortable. (Please be sure to follow the most up-to-date privacy policies regarding disclosure of how the interview will be used, and who may be viewing it).

2. Interpreter Channel

Do you conduct interviews across borders? If the answer is yes, you should be delighted to know that Zoom has a way to incorporate simultaneous translation into your work. Another great feature of the webinar license, this feature is a fantastic way to ensure that your participant can respond in the language that is most comfortable and appropriate for them, while your stakeholders can listen-in and follow along without issue.

3. Screenshare

What would any user interview be without a bit of show-and-tell? Whether you need to see your participant’s mobile or laptop screen, or it’s you that wants to share some wireframes or mockups, the screenshare feature is a pretty seamless way to get stimuli in front of your users, or to see exactly what they’re seeing.

4. Whiteboard

Following on from the screenshare is the white board feature. Allow participants to draw on the screen in order to show you problem areas, things that excite them, or issues with your mockup that you didn’t know were there. A simple and fun feature, it also increases engagement and rapport, and makes sure your interviews are interesting for everyone involved.

5. Polling

If you’re running a group session, the polling feature is another way to inject some fun-yet-valuable data collection into the interview. Questions need to be kept simple, and when done correctly, polls can help guide probing and deep diving in new directions as needed.


  • If you haven’t tried running any interviews or group chats on Zoom yet, we suggest you give it a try with your colleagues, and don’t hold back from playing around with all of the features available to you.
  • Consider getting a webinar license to be able to have your observers observe and interpreters interpret seamlessly.
  • Explore Zoom’s functions first before building your discussion guide, and you’ll end up with an interactive, thorough and thoughtful way to engage participants using one of the qualitative tools we’re pretty sure is here to stay.

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