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60 minutes

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  • Paper

  • Pens

  • Images (photos, cartoons, illustrations depending on the topic)

What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


An image interview is an indirect interview method that combines aspects of traditional unstructured interviews and images. The method aims to engage customers more and stimulate more spontaneous responses than traditional interviews. The purpose of an image interview is to understand customers better, get more accurate and unbiased answers, and reveal underlying thoughts, associations and nuances that would be more difficult to obtain with traditional interviews. Image interviews provide information on needs, expectations, experiences, attitudes, wishes, emotions and motivations on the researched issue. Creating trust is important in an image interview.

Steps how to use this tool in practice

The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.


Prepare the questions. Although the interview does not have to be structured, a set of common questions are helpful to guide you through the process and in comparing results from different interviews. It is good to start the interview with some broad questions. These help the interviewees feel more at ease. The other questions should be more specific and aim to elicit in-depth information on the topic.


Prepare images. They can be photos, cartoons or illustrations. The number and type of images depends on the case. Often a few images are used, e.g. 5. The more expressive the images are, the more sincere emotions they are likely to elicit.


Select your group of interviewees. You can interview your customers, stakeholders or internal staff members. If you are conducting the interviews alone, a smaller group is easier to handle (for example 10 people) depending on the aim and how many you can handle.


Open the interview with a few generic questions to help break the ice. Then go deeper with the specific questions using images. Ask the participants to comment on the images as part of the interview.


Do not forget to take notes during the interview. Write down any shared information and comments, even if they may feel irrelevant or insignificant at the time. After the interview when you go through your notes, it may be possible to notice some important things in the details.

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • Image interviews can also be used directly on a service or a product when these are the subject of research.

  • Image interviews can be reversed, for example by asking subjects to select images that represent the issue or send images and drawings representing the experience. They can also be asked to select images of a given pool of images and interviews can be conducted on these images.

  • ​If participants agree, you can record the interviews (video or voice recording). This way you can listen to the interviews afterwards as many times as needed and discover new details or nuances you might have missed when taking notes.

Other tools of this phase

6 questions for gaining a comprehensive view of the issue.

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A visual model of the service for research.

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A map to gain insight into customers’ emotional and cognitive perceptions.

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Interview to get a better understanding and insight of an identified problem.


A self-documentation method used for observation and reflection.


A map of all stakeholders, and their importance and relations.

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Obtaining user experience information through observation.

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