Listen to Steve on the UX podcast

It was great to chat with Per and James (again — 2015 is here, 2017 is here) for their legendary UX Podcast (in support of the second edition of Interviewing Users).

Our 40-minute conversation is on the episode page (with transcript here) and embedded below.

Over ten years have passed since the first edition of Steve Portigal’s legendary book Interviewing Users was released. Together with Steve, we reflect on how user research has evolved during the past decade, and how the importance of user research in order to understand people and their needs is still crucial.

We discuss in-house vs consulting for research practices, research teams and leadership, a rapidly changing and evolving industry, and ultimately the importance of a human connection in order to care about them in our designs and in business.

“I don’t think you can consistently invent your way into success. It does take this understanding, and caring for the human aspect of people.”

– Steve Portigal

Interviews provoke deeper reflection

Being in an in interview is a powerful opportunity to provoke deeper reflection – beyond but not limited to the ‘data’ – about what it is that you’re trying to understand and even change about the world.

Here’s a short excerpt from my recent appearance on the NN/g podcast.

Understanding through User Interviews - Steve Portigal on the NN/g UX podcast. #UX #Podcast

Check out Steve on the NN/g UX podcast

Thanks to Therese Fessenden having me on the NN/g UX Podcast (in support of launching the second edition of Interviewing Users).

Our 45-minute conversation is on YouTube (and embedded below), and Spotify (and embedded below).

38. User Interviews (feat. Steve Portigal, Research Consultant and Author)


  • What is a User Interview
  • Steve’s Journey
  • Why to Choose User Interviews
  • When to Choose Other Methods
  • What has Changed in User Interviews
  • Remote User Interviews
  • What has NOT Changed in User Interviews
  • Improving User Interview Skills

One of the things I do like about interviews is that it’s a method that changes the researcher — it changes their understanding of people, of the problem, of the opportunity and it does that in this experiential kind of immersive way. If I’m going to talk to a number of people over the course of a week, I’m going to be scratching my chin on the dog walk or thinking in the shower. It gives you a lot of experiential stuff to chew on. The conclusions that you take are not obvious, they’re not in the interview. For me it’s a very rewarding experience to be pushed into this sustained creative state as you’re thinking about the people that you met and how they talked and how they how they view their work and how they view their lives because it even if it doesn’t directly go there; It goes there indirectly. You start to understand something about other kinds of people so it’s really rich and rewarding which is nice on its own I guess but it’s a really powerful way to stimulate thinking about what it is that we’re trying to answer. I get a lot out of it with the data and I get a lot out of it with the experience.

Listen to Steve on the UI Breakfast podcast

I had a great conversation with Jane Portman about interviewing users (to coincide with the launch of the second edition of Interviewing Users).

Do listen to our fifty-minute conversation on the episode page, embedded below, and at Google, and Apple.

I think some of our fear is that that are questions are kind of probing and confrontational, inappropriate, but you can even just acknowledge that thing that someone said right now, you can say “divorce.” The person will say “Yes, yes, yes.” If you build this connection with them and so you have to make an ethical decision because we have a lot of power to ask about a lot of stuff. I like to go into that a little bit because I think when they bring it up…I don’t want to hear about their divorce if I’m not working on a relationship thing I want to respect their privacy. But they’re bringing it up as something that is relevant.

I talked with someone about digital photography and they brought up their relationship ending and it was actually was relevant because it was about trying to document their new baby and share those images with relatives who weren’t around when the family structure was shifting. I didn’t ask about the relationship and they gave more information than I needed to hear, but they needed to share something and I was able to hear it, but not push into something that was not appropriate. I wanted them to feel heard and accepted but I also didn’t want to push into it. But it was relevant context to we’re trying to understand, what they were trying to share about doing the work or the process of the tools.

If someone brings it up they’re testing to see “Do you want to hear about it? Is it ok to share?”


About Steve