Listen to Steve on Tech for Good Live

While I was in Manchester last year I had a very enjoyable and friendly conversation with Bex and Jonny, the hosts of Tech for Good Live. We talked about the role of the user researcher, the increasingly blurry line between design and research, design ethics, and my favorite stories from user researchers out in the field.

The conversation is posted at Tech for Good Live and embedded below.


Listen to Steve on This is HCD

I had the pleasure of speaking recently with Chirryl-Lee Ryan about user research and more – we got into outcomes versus deliverables, tipping points for the tech industry, and a few other fun areas. The conversation is now live on This is HCD (including a transcript), and embedded below.


Chi shared her own user research war story

We didn’t have a car. We should have hired a car or we should have had a driver because we had no idea what the traffic was like in Manila. One of the team members went to catch their flight back to Australia and the taxi driver kind of kidnapped them because they didn’t have cash – all the things that you don’t think about when you’re going to do research – they happened to us on that on that particular research trip. And so you know, we got great insights and the client was just amazed but at the same time we sort of went through this wild adventure of our own on the back side of what was actually happening on the trip.

Steve on the Service Design Show

Thanks to Marc Fonteijn for having me as a guest on The Service Design Show. The episode, entitled How To Unlock The True Power Of User Research, is online now (Soundcloud, YouTube) and embedded below.

By now we all know that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in the service design toolbox. But can we also use storytelling to actually improve our own practice? Steve Portigal thinks so and he explains why in this episode.

And how well aware are you of your own biases, beliefs and assumptions when you go into a project? Learning to better listen to ourselves might be a key to get more meaningful work done.

Finally we discuss why the value of deep research is still often not aligned with the value we put on designing solutions. For this we dig into some economic fallacies that might have to do with this.

The big question of this episode is: When has storytelling worked for you (and when did it fail)?

Watch Steve on Like/Unlike

Here’s a twenty-minute conversation with me, for the show Like/Unlike for, in anticipation of Product Camp Poland, coming right up! I talk about three things – something I recently experienced that I liked (our Punk Rock walking tour of the East Village); something that I did not like (an app required to get filtered drinking water), and a perspective on user research that others may not be thinking about.

sorry about the occasionally blurry video

Much Better Than The Original

Comedian Laurie Kilmartin tweeted

Hey aspiring comedy writers, when my brain is foggy or I just need multiple punchlines for the same setup, sometime I consult my transitions list! It’s dumb but it helps

It’s sort of a low-fidelity methods card approach, where a phrase suggests a particular structure, or triggers the writer to generate a certain type of response. As a comedy consumer, I am amazed at how familiar so many of these phrases are. While I do some amount of deconstructing the form as a fan, it is very cool to see how fully she reverse-engineered standup tropes for her own benefit

Listen to Steve on the Conversation Factory Podcast

It was great fun to speak with Daniel Stillman about research, collaboration, communication and facilitation. now live on the Conversation Factory site, and embedded below


Here’s part of how Daniel framed the conversation in his writeup

Steve is a User Researcher, heart and soul. And he talks and writes about it, fluently. Facilitation is something that he *has to do* in order to bring people together. He’s an extremely reflective practitioner about research, but about facilitation, less so. For me, it’s fascinating to see that divide. I think there are a lot of people where facilitation is a means to an end.

Steve illustrates something I coach people on often – you have to be your own kind of facilitator. I can be theatrical and energetic. Steve is more introverted and centered. My way of solving for group work isn’t Steve’s: he’s adapted his own approach that feels natural and gets the job done.

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