51. Tamara Hale of Splunk

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my conversation with Tamara Hale, the Director of Product Experience – Research & Insights at Splunk. We talk about the long tail of impact, being an anthropologist of work, and having a creative practice. The ‘doing the research’ bit is only about a quarter of your job. The […]

50. Vanessa Arango Garcia of Delivery Hero

in this latest episode of Dollars to Donuts, I talk with Vanessa Arango Garcia, Director UX Research & Research Operations at Delivery Hero. We discuss creating an engaged research community across a global organization, being accountable for impact, and how today’s challenges provide an opportunity for the research progression to grow. We care a lot […]

49. Sarah Gregory of Coinbase

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my conversation with Sarah Gregory, Director of User Research for Consumer at Coinbase. We talk about research comms, archiving user research, and doing research that no one is yet asking for. Our email is designed for one very specific leadership stakeholder, and it is tailored to how that […]

48. Jamika Burge of Capital One

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Jamika Burge, the head of research for Data and AI at Capital One. We talk about her journey through academia, discovering user research, and intersectionality. Doing good – for me, as a researcher, and as someone who wants to do good in the world, it […]

47. Akshay Verma of Duolingo

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Akshay Verma, the head of User Research at Duolingo. We talk about being qualitative focused in an experimentation-driven organization, research team structures, team rituals, and sharing knowledge between researchers. I don’t actually want to bemoan or belabor this concept of a room that we’re invited […]

46. Daniel Escher of Remitly

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Daniel Escher, Director of UX and Research at Remitly. We talk about more ways for researchers to add value, business questions over research questions, and the things that researchers worry about. Where I think collective identity can be limiting is when someone thinks of themselves […]

45. Reggie Murphy of Zendesk (part 2)

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features part 2 of my two-part conversation with Reggie Murphy of Zendesk. We talk about psychological safety at work, Reggie’s career journey, and online career resources for UX researchers. That helps the team be better researchers when they feel like they have a space where, man, I don’t have […]

44. Reggie Murphy of Zendesk (part 1)

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features part 1 of my two-part conversation with Reggie Murphy of Zendesk. We talk about aligning the work of the research team with stakeholder OKRs and empowering non-researchers to do user research. The researcher would go into these meetings and say we’re going to do a “I Wish I […]

43. Leanne Waldal returns

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I catch up with Leanne Waldal, five years after she first appeared on the podcast. She’s now a Principal in User Experience at ADP. A couple of years ago, I realized I know things. We all know things, but sometimes we go through life thinking there’s always something […]

42. Celeste Ridlen of Robinhood

For this episode of Dollars to Donuts I had a wonderful conversation with Celeste Ridlen, the Head of Research at Robinhood This is a fundamental leadership-y thing where no two people are going to do that same leadership role the same way. You’re never going to do them the same way as somebody else. And […]

41. Carol Rossi returns

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts Carol Rossi returns to update us on the last 9 years. She’s now a consultant who focuses on user research leadership. I’m happy making the contributions that I’m making, even though it’s hard to directly measure impact. I’m hearing from people that they’re finding value from the work […]

40. Gregg Bernstein returns

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I welcome Gregg Bernstein back for a follow-up episode. He’s now Director of User Research at Hearst Magazines. The thing that I always come back to is that there is no one way to do research. And I also think there’s no one way to do research leadership. […]

39. Mani Pande of Cisco Meraki

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Mani Pande, Director and Head of Research at Cisco Meraki. We used to do these immersion events where we would bring everybody who worked on, who was our stakeholder, to come and listen and talk to our customers. And we would do these focus groups, […]

38. Vanessa Whatley of Twilio

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Vanessa Whatley, UX Director – Research & Documentation at Twilio. For many years, I had anxiety and regret around not starting my career in the field that I’m in sooner because I felt very very lost stumbling through all of the different fields and roles, […]

37. Nizar Saqqar of Snowflake

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Nizar Saqqar, the Head of User Research at Snowflake. For a domain that takes a lot of pride and empathy and how we can represent the end user, there’s a component that sometimes gets overshadowed, which is the empathy with cross-functional partners. With every domain, […]

36. Noam Segal returns

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features a return visit from Noam Segal, now a Senior Research Manager at Upwork. AI will help us see opportunities for research that we haven’t seen. It will help us settle a bunch of debates that maybe we’ve struggled to settle before. It will help us to connect with […]

New episodes! New book!

Today we’ve got a quick program note about new episodes of Dollars to Donuts, an announcement about my new book, and an interview with Steve Portigal. Show Links Interviewing Users (2nd Edition) Steve on The Rosenfeld Review Podcast “How-to with John Wilson” on HBO

35. Danielle Smith of Express Scripts

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Danielle Smith, the Senior Director of Experience Research & Accessibility at Express Scripts. Something that I’ve really changed the way I thought about since I’ve been at Express Scripts — we are in the healthcare ecosystem. So the experiences we deliver, if they are not […]

34. Amber Lindholm of Duo Security

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Amber Lindholm, the Head of User Research at Duo Security. That’s the sign of a really good researcher – it can never be just about research for research’s sake, like this is a cool project, this is a neat thing, I really wanna go in-depth […]

33. Julia Nelson of MOO

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Julia Nelson, the Director Of Research at MOO. All researchers say to some degree that they don’t necessarily have a traditional background when they come into the research field. But I think there’s a lot of strength in welcoming people with different perspectives onto your […]

32. Chris Kovel of First Abu Dhabi Bank

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Chris Kovel, the Head Of Research at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). I look at needs as proximate needs and ultimate needs. An ultimate need is why the product exists in the first place. And then the proximate need is the experience of using that […]

31. Noam Segal of Wealthfront

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Noam Segal, the Director of Research at Wealthfront. Everyone from PMs to designers, researchers, obviously, engineers, data scientists, marketing, we’re all trying to to understand our clients, we’re all taking part in that process in some way, shape or form. And so I view my […]

30. Laith Ulaby of Udemy

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Laith Ullaby, the Head of Research at Udemy. I’m really into the idea of questioning what we do. That can be the methods and that conversation about getting out of our comfort zone. It can be thinking about our relationships with stakeholders and trying to […]

29. Kathryn Campbell of Ticketmaster

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Kathryn Campbell, the Director of Research & Insights at Ticketmaster. Whenever there is availability of somebody that might normally work on the marketplace side, they might tag team on an account manager project and that helps to inform them about that product. It gives them […]

28. Laura Faulkner of Rackspace

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Laura Faulkner, the Head of Research at Rackspace. I’ve never just sat and done just what I was asked to do. I’m always looking for something new, something else. It’s probably just part of how I’m built but it’s also a conscious choice of, of […]

27. Colin MacArthur of the Canadian Digital Service

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I chat with Colin MacArthur, the Head of Design Research at the Canadian Digital Service. We talk about bureaucracy hacking, spreading the gospel of research throughout government, and embedding researchers in complex domains. Often the idiosyncrasies in people’s research and the sort of surprises that don’t fit within […]

26. Jesse Zolna of ADP

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I talk to Jesse Zolna, who leads the User Experience Research Team at ADP’s Innovation Lab. We talk about driving change as an experiment, exposing the organization to how customers solve problems, and engineering psychology. One of the challenges we face is getting “credit” for the work that […]

25. Juliette Melton of The New York Times

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Juliette Melton, Director of User Insight and Strategy at The New York Times. We talk about updating the old “design research” label, user research in a journalism culture, and the role of coaching. I think that researchers can bring a kind of brightness into a […]

24. Ashley Graham of IBM

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my conversation with Ashley Graham, a design research leader at IBM. We discuss synthesis as a collaborative, co-located activity, being mission-driven, and building a process that addresses complexity. When I look at the wonderful research community, I don’t see a ton of people that look like me and […]

23. Michele Marut of CBRE Build

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Michele Marut who leads user experience research at CBRE Build. We discuss the curation of research repositories, using research to go beyond fixing things, and building processes and tools that can be used by researchers and people who do research. The philosophy is that the […]

22. Vicki Tollemache of Grubhub

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Vicki Tollemache, the Director of UX Research at Grubhub. We discuss how to manage incoming research requests, running a weekly research session for testing designs, and why candidates should come into job interviews with a point of view about the company’s product. To me, researchers […]

21. Ruth Ellison of Digital Transformation Agency

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Ruth Ellison, Head of User Research at DTA, the Digital Transformation Agency in Australia. We discuss the challenges of user research – and digital product development – in government, embedding researchers into product teams but maintaining a guild model to connect them, and how research […]

20. Leisa Reichelt of Atlassian (Part 2)

This episode of Dollars to Donuts is part 2 of my conversation with Leisa Reichelt of Atlassian. If you haven’t listened to part 1 yet, you can find it here. We talk about corporate versus government work, scaling research, and changing organizational DNA. I love research, I love the way that we learn things and […]

19. Leisa Reichelt of Atlassian (Part 1)

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features part 1 of my two-part conversation with Leisa Reichelt of Atlassian. We talk about educating the organization to do user research better, the limitations of horizontal products, and the tension between “good” and “bad” research. If you’re working on a product that has got some more foundational issues […]

18. Kathleen Asjes of Schibsted Media

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features Kathleen Asjes of Schibsted Media. In our conversation, we talk about what happens when research need exceeds resources, the importance of keeping the knowledge inside the organization, and the benefit of diversity in a research team. It’s not so much about which university do I go to and […]

17. Tomer Sharon of Goldman Sachs

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts, I talk with Tomer Sharon, the Head of User Research and Metrics at Goldman Sachs. We talk about how to assess potential hires for user research positions, infrastructure for capturing and searching a body of data, and developing a practice inside a willing, yet large, organization. Some parts […]

16. Marianne Berkovich of Glooko

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts, I speak with Marianne Berkovich, Head of User Research & Consumer Insights at Glooko. We talk about doing research through leadership changes, setting up opportunities for self-critique, and how to build empathy, especially in health technology, by experiencing some aspect of the condition and treatment yourself. It really […]

15. Leanne Waldal of New Relic

Welcome back to Dollars to Donuts. This episode features Leanne Waldal, Senior Director of Product Research at New Relic. We talk about establishing research in an organization for the first time, building up a diverse set of research collaborators, and the pleasure of taking on certain types of challenges. I’ve seen hopeful examples in startups […]

14. Monal Chokshi of Lyft

In the final episode of the season I speak with Monal Chokshi, Head of User Experience Research at Lyft. We discuss traditional paths to a user research career, creating routines for meeting different types of users, and the emergence of leadership roles in user research.

13. Kate Lawrence of EBSCO

In this episode I speak with Kate Lawrence, Vice President of User Research at EBSCO Information Services. Our conversation covers where to place user research in the organization, emotions in fieldwork, and empowering others to advocate for information literacy.

12. Pree Kolari of eBay

This episode features Pree Kolari, the Senior Director of Design Strategy and Research at eBay. We talk about the career arc of a researcher, having impact on the product, and breaking down organizational walls.

11. Gabe Trionfi of Pinterest

This episode features Gabe Trionfi, the Manager of Research at Pinterest. We discuss the evolution of user research, collaboration between disciplines and the journey versus the destination.

10. Elizabeth Kell of Comcast

In this episode I chat with Elizabeth Kell, the Senior Director of User Research at Comcast. We talk about the growth of Comcast’s user research practice, essential soft skills for research candidates, and putting a human face on the people that use your products.

9. Kavita Appachu of Kelley Blue Book

Today I chat with Kavita Appachu, the Senior Manager of User Experience Research at Kelley Blue Book. She describes the different roles she’s had in different organizations, moving from design to research, and explains the change effort underway at Kelley Blue Book.

8. Aviva Rosenstein of DocuSign

In today’s episode I speak with Aviva Rosenstein, the Senior Manager of User Experience Research at DocuSign. We explore how to make all types of research actionable, the benefit of doing your own recruiting, and the evolution from building a usability lab to having an in-house research capability.

7. Judd Antin of Airbnb

We kick off the second season with Judd Antin, the Director of Experience Research at Airbnb. Judd and I speak about their model for embedding talented generalists with product teams, skill-sharing among researchers, and just what exactly makes research “sexy.”

6. Carol Rossi of Edmunds.com

Today’s guest is Carol Rossi. She’s the Senior Director of UX Research at Edmunds.com. In our conversation, we discuss her small-but-mighty team, Edmund.com’s collaborative workplace culture, and the personal driver of “doing good.”

5. Kerry McAleer-Forte of Sears Holdings

Today’s guest is Kerry McAleer-Forte, the Director of User Experience Research for Sears Holdings. We discuss how researchers need to think like storytellers, getting at the underlying need behind a research request, and the risk of using research to make recommendations.

4. Nancy Frishberg of Financial Engines

My guest today is Nancy Frishberg, the manager of user research at Financial Engines. We discuss recruiting participants in an enterprise setting (where users are customers of your customers), finding the generative in the evaluative and how to think about collaborative workspace as entirely separate from reporting structure.

3. Frances Karandy of Citrix

Today’s guest is Frances Karandy, a senior manager within the Customer Experience Group at Citrix. We discuss doing product-focused research in a company with a large number of products, what to look for when hiring researchers, and how to select projects that not only support the business but also help team members to develop.

2. Alex Wright of Etsy

Today’s guest is Alex Wright, who is the director of research at Etsy. We discuss the partnership between qualitative and quantitative research at Etsy and how his background in journalism helps him with the storytelling aspects of managing the research function.

1. Gregg Bernstein of MailChimp

Welcome to the debut episode of Dollars to Donuts. Today’s guest is Gregg Bernstein, who manages customer research at MailChimp. We discuss how MailChimp uses research to uncover new product opportunities, how the right research artifacts can best provide value to different internal audiences and how humility is an essential soft skill for successful researchers.

Listen to Steve on the Product Quest podcast

I enjoyed speaking with Yann Wermuth, Jonathan Edwards, and Scott Burleson on their Product Quest podcast.

We talked about

  • How to go into an interview with someone you know you disagree
  • How to keep a conversation going without tripping up
  • How to create meaningful interview guides that solve business questions
  • How to formulate questions in your head while leading the conversation
  • What the best mindset is to go into a user interview
  • Tips when you start out with interviewing

Our 80-minute conversation is on the episode page and embedded below.

Listen to Steve on the Making Things That Matter podcast

Thanks to Andrew Skotzko for a fun conversation on the Making Things That Matter podcast where we talked about improving your user research process.

Our 75-minute conversation is on the episode page, YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. You can find a transcript on this page.

#80 Steve Portigal: Improving your user research process

Steve Portigal is a veteran user research leader and consultant who helps companies mature their research practices. He’s the author of Interviewing Users, a classic in the field, and the host of the design leadership podcast Dollars to Donuts. In this conversation, we explore:

• how to use creative practices to develop your voice as a leader and storyteller

• how to be a smart consumer of research findings when you aren’t an expert in the craft of research

• one simple question leaders can ask to set their organizations to make the most of research

• and how to create the conditions for high-impact, effective creative work in your team

Topics discussed

(10:21) Experimenting with writing and finding one’s voice

(15:47) Feedback model: GASP – goals, attempts, successes, possibilities

(19:53) Workshops, creativity, and self-doubt

(27:06) Embrace authenticity, find your unique facilitation style

(28:10) Appreciating different approaches, understanding executives’ skepticism

(34:37) Engage with compassion

(39:29) Research is essential for informed decision-making

(49:01) Compassion and reflection are crucial for leaders

(50:48) Create a safe learning space for engagement

(56:03) Assessing code quality and marketing effectiveness

(01:00:39) Research raises questions, timing and deployment important

(01:10:31) Stay fascinated with the world around you

Save 20% on Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries

Save 20% on my book Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries through the Rosenfeld Media summer sale, through July 15. This book of stories from other researchers examines the bizarre, comic, tragic, and generally astonishing experiences that researchers have out in the field.

Portigal’s collection of war stories illuminates the discipline and improvisation endemic to researching people. Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries is a fitting companion to his landmark Interviewing Users. – Gregg Bernstein

Listen to Steve on the Product Thinking podcast

Thanks to Melissa Perri for having me on the Product Thinking Podcast to discuss of the second edition of Interviewing Users.

Our one-hour conversation is on the episode page, YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. You can find a transcript on this page.

Episode 177: The Evolution of User Research: A Conversation with Steve Portigal, Author of Interv...

In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri celebrates the updated ten-year anniversary edition of Interviewing Users with author Steve Portigal.

Join them in this engaging episode as they discuss the importance of user research in product development. The pair also delve deeply into the changing landscape of user research, the impact of increasing reliance on remote interviews, and the difficulties that purely digital interactions pose for understanding the user’s context. Melissa and Steve also touch on common mistakes in interviewing users and the role of active listening.

If you’re interested in learning more about effective user research and its role in creating successful products, this episode is a must-listen.

You’ll hear them talk about:

05:13 – The Change to Remote Research

When Steve wrote the first edition of his book, Interviewing Users, his advice and experience was centered exclusively around the principles of in-person research. The world of work and meetings has changed a lot in the ten years since that edition, and now remote interviews are far more common, especially since the pandemic. Looking to the positives, Steve comments that geographical diversity is now far more possible when conducting research. In the past, you would target a certain place where you’re going to be able to call on a lot of different participants, namely urban metropolises rather than more rural areas. Doing research remotely allows you to look further afield more easily and create a more diverse cast of participants. Though Steve admits that, on the other side of the coin, the need for technology introduces its own new barrier.

19:52 – Interview Pre-Work

Steve makes an interesting distinction between the person and the ‘thing’ being investigated in an interview and he notes the importance of understanding whether you’re looking at the person in the research or their device itself. For more open-ended interviews looking at the person, it can be useful to follow Steve’s lead and send the subject ‘pre-work’. This could consist of one question or multiple but either way, it ought to be a small bit of work that the interviewee can do, without spending too much time, in advance of the interview itself. More than the answers themselves being of vital importance, the act of asking will get the cogs moving in the subject’s brain before the interview and could possibly give you a hand in opening them up.

30:01 – Interview Technique, Letting Go Of Yourself

Judging whether an interview has been conducted in a successful way is hard to gauge because it’s impossible to be sure what would have happened if you’d done it slightly differently. Steve’s perspective is that being a bright, curious, and extroverted person is the first step to being a good interviewer. He recognizes that this is the most natural way to approach this kind of situation; filling air time, talking a lot to show interest, nailing your questions, and putting some of yourself into that conversation. But Steve thinks that the next level up from this requires being comfortable with the unfamiliar task of leaving yourself at the door. Some of the best answers he gets come from saying very little, simply encouraging the subject to continue rather than hit them with the next question, and even saying nothing at all and letting them fill the space.

Dollars to Donuts: Tamara Hale of Splunk

Dollars to Donuts logo

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my conversation with Tamara Hale, the Director of Product Experience – Research & Insights at Splunk. We talk about the long tail of impact, being an anthropologist of work, and having a creative practice.

The ‘doing the research’ bit is only about a quarter of your job. The rest of it is all the other stuff that goes around it. It’s about storytelling and influence and developing a vision and creating alignment around who the customers are and creating alignment on what actually are the business goals. It’s your stakeholder mapping. It’s your internal research. It’s your knowledge management. It’s improving how we work. All that stuff is part of research, and if you only think of your job as that quarter, you’re missing out on some of the most interesting and also trickiest parts of the job. – Tamara Hale

Help other people find Dollars to Donuts by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.

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Dollars to Donuts: Vanessa Arango Garcia of Delivery Hero

Dollars to Donuts logo

In this latest episode of Dollars to Donuts, I talk with Vanessa Arango Garcia, Director UX Research & Research Operations at Delivery Hero. We discuss creating an engaged research community across a global organization, being accountable for impact, and how today’s challenges provide an opportunity for the research progression to grow.

We care a lot about our craft and we need to keep the quality up, but we also need to be pragmatic in how we are able to optimize that process of doing research to focus in the next stages. We dedicate too much in doing the research, delivering that report. And later, sometimes it’s very difficult to dedicate time to following up, connecting with the team, sitting together, ideating, thinking about the roadmap, because we don’t have time. We are jumping from research to research to research because every research takes time. – Vanessa Arango Garcia

Help other people find Dollars to Donuts by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.

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Dollars to Donuts: Sarah Gregory of Coinbase

Dollars to Donuts logo

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my conversation with Sarah Gregory, Director of User Research for Consumer at Coinbase. We talk about research comms, archiving user research, and doing research that no one is yet asking for.

Our email is designed for one very specific leadership stakeholder, and it is tailored to how that person likes to consume information. There’s a different stakeholder that hates email. That person, I use Slack. Another stakeholder tends to listen very well when they’re live in a regularly recurring monthly meeting. And so I make sure that research always has one or two slides in that meeting. You have to know exactly who you want to be listening, and you have to change your techniques depending on who that is. Which is really just understanding your user, right? – Sarah Gregory

Show Notes

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Dollars to Donuts: Jamika Burge of Capital One

Dollars to Donuts logo

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Jamika Burge, the head of research for Data and AI at Capital One. We talk about her journey through academia, discovering user research, and intersectionality.

Doing good – for me, as a researcher, and as someone who wants to do good in the world, it means understanding people’s needs in context and providing opportunities for them to succeed. That’s what that means for me. Success can mean different things to different people. I can guess what success means from a business perspective. I can even guess what success means from a researcher perspective, but ultimately it’s that end user who tells us whether or not we got it right. I want that person to feel as an end user, free to share with us when we got it wrong, but also when we got it right. – Jamika Burge

Show Notes

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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

About Steve