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Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights
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Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,077 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Interviewing is a foundational user research tool that people assume they already possess. Everyone can ask questions, right? Unfortunately, that's not the case. Interviewing Users provides invaluable interviewing techniques and tools that enable you to conduct informative interviews with anyone. You'll move from simply gathering data to uncovering powerful insights about ...more
Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published May 2nd 2013 by Rosenfeld Media (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: user-experience

My first entry into the Rosenfeld Media books was a hit. Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights by Steve Portigal digs into the world of market research and ethnography. If you're entering the world of user testing, I suggest first reading Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug. That book does a great job of providing a foundation and overview. Interviewing Users should be your second book of entry into user testing. It digs a little deeper into topics such as a) the sta
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finally got back to this. Great stuff.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book about user research. It's practical, it's full of examples, it contains short stories from the field, it also contains opinions from other researches and ... it's short :) ...more
Moayad Taibah
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference, ux
This is a must read for any researcher going out there and exploring other people's behaviors and attitudes in their day-to-day interactions with any given product/service.

Interviewing Users is a reference book that guides the researcher in the journey of conducting interviews from understanding their purpose and expected outcomes, to preparing everything, conducting the sessions, and finally analyzing the outcomes.

The book is well structured, comprehensive, detailed enough to act as a guide, an
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ux
Wish I had a chance to do more of this kind of thing.
Daniela D
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic introduction to conducting user interviews, it's very light, easy to read, has good examples to illustrate all points that Portigal is making. It has everything from the details and logistics of the preparation to strategies on how to deal with difficult users or slow moving conversations. There is only a short chapter on the data analysis and how to make sure your organisation appreciates this type of work. So if you were looking for more details on analyzing interview data, ...more
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: designers, researchers, ux folk
Fundamental principles and techniques in qualitative research interviewing, interwoven with anecdotes from the author and other established researchers. Portigal lays out a general framework for interviewing, and discusses planning, conducting, documenting, evaluating, and reporting the interview.

While usability studies, ethnographic observations, and other members of the qualitative family aren't necessarily interviews, the book illuminates a sensible and effective research mindset for any for
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for training individuals new to interviewing. I'm currently using this book in a qualitative methods course I'm co-teaching for graduate students in design. However, as someone was originally trained how to interview in the qualitative methods courses that I completed during my public health graduate coursework, I highly recommend this text across academic domains as it covers all the basics in a clear and well-articulated manner. ...more
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book chock full of practical strategies and helpful tips that only can come from someone with a ton of experience during this type of research. Steve Portigal's personality shines through wonderfully, making the book a pleasure to read. ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Super quick read about practical tips for conducting product user interviews.

Some non-intuitive take-aways for me were:
- create a brain dump of presently held implicit context and beliefs about your topic, using this exercise as a ritual to empty out your mind before starting conversations with someone so that you've flushed out your world views
- people speak in paragraphs, and sometime its ok to respond by silence when someone has finished saying a blurb, to give them the permission to say the
Cristiano Dalbem
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Despite the title this book cover much more than just interviewing users, I could say it's a perfect primer on user research as a whole because it does cover the fundamentals, the why's, the contexts and the afters (the final chapter on instilling research culture in companies was a great surprise of a book that did so well on everything else also covering the mote corporative and political side of Design).
I loved how it's practical, very well written and laid out, with some nuggets of theory in
Anirudh Jain
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the third book that I am reading which concerns interviewing users hence there was a little new to learn for me but some of the tips were useful.

This concerns with the formal user research interview unlike the MOM test which was sort of a guirella research technique. This book lays out a formal structure of keeping all the stakeholders in check, design a screener, design a field guide to ensure that the things happen smoothly. Apart from this there are certain practical yet obvious tips
Matthew Stublefield
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Lots of good info, but a little too focused on physical interviews

I highlighted and bookmarked a number of helpful things in this book, but it didn’t quite match my expectations, and I would estimate that only around half of the book was helpful for me. The problem here (and perhaps I just overlooked it in the description) is that this book is actually about interviewing users in their particular physical context. It’s all about making observations based on how someone interacts with their envir
Jade Jenkins
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: skillzzzzz, uxr
Leans very heavily on the practical side of conducting ethnographic interviews rather than the academic side of things, and does so extremely well!

If you're looking for an end-to-end walk-through consisting of best practices, case studies, sample materials (questions, artifacts, etc.), perspectives from user researchers who conduct ethnographies and interviews, links to templates and crowd-sourcing activities, etc., you will find it all in spades here.

As a bonus: It's a very fast read. Even if
Jan 30, 2021 rated it did not like it
This is "How to Win Friends an Influence People" without the jokes and with extra Frekanomics tidbits. I guess I should have read the blurb better since my field is HCI - maybe you're reading this in a field where this is the norm but doesn't the blurred line between interview and PR worry you? There was leading fallacy after leading fallacy - was interview data even mentioned? What epistemological approach are you taking to its analysis? How much agency does the interview have? What changes it. ...more
Joe Morris
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Steve Portigal is an informative and fun teacher. I really enjoyed narrative. I thought the experience he offers is right in line with what I've been learning. The examples are plenty. The images are hilarious. If you're looking to take the next step from UI designer to UX researcher, then definitely invest in this book. That said I would have given this book 5 stars if it wasn't so expensive. It's a Rosenfeld book maybe that's part of it. Any ways this is definitely ...more
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Practical guide to interviewing

The text provides a solid overview and coaching on performing interviews for research. The author is light on specific methods or approaches, but a library of tactics and principles is provided, encouraging the reader to experiment and practice. While not a systematic study, the positive tone is welcoming for a beginner and correctly identifies early pitfalls and how to overcome them.
Anton Kostadinov
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Probably good for beginners. I found it tedious to read, not only because of the small font size and obviously poor choice of the red background and white text which caused even my eyes (and I have perfect vision) to burn. It does provide some examples but they are not something interesting, nor is the practical advice given.
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
My biggest takeaway from this book: don’t hire user researchers; they’re full of shit.

The “insights” presented in this book include: listen to your user instead of multi tasking, don’t be late to the interview, make sure your phone/laptop doesn’t run out of battery, and be open minded.

Do yourself a favor and spend 10 minutes reading a blogpost or two instead.
Maddie Nastase
May 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: design
It took months to finish this.
I found about 20% of this book to be useful-insights-into-interviewing, and the rest just dragged endlessly with common sense rules for human interaction.
The writing isn't particularly witty or engaging either.
Fred Rose
Good introduction for people learning design thinking and ethnography, something I would consider for students. Not for practitioners, too basic. Think about "Moments of Impact" which isn't really about interviewing but much better for advanced users.. ...more
David Dikman
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Not enough for the price

I bought this for approx $15 and finished the few pages in a few hours. Material was OK but not so to the point that it provided insights I haven't picked up in more extensive works such as Designing for the Digital Age.

Natalía Papadopoúlou
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design-research
The most detailed and comprehensive guide to interviewing people, where starters to professionals would make use of some aspects of it. Definitely keeping it on my recommendation list to fellow designers / researchers.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly, this book is not only a useful guide on how to interview users but also on how to talk to people in your life when you really want to make it about them, not you.

PS. Bought it after attending Steve’s workshop at Product Camp in Gdynia 2018.
Becky Sroufe
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-ux-books
Very digestible and surprisingly short(er) than what I was expecting, but length in no way is a similar reflection of the content. This was jam packed with fantastic learnings and advice that I'm thrilled to take with me in the field! Would HIGHLY recommend. ...more
Michael Szeto
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
Really awesome book with fantastic pointers on how to conduct user interviews and how to act when performing the tasks.

Would definitely recommend it to any Ux and Product Designers looking to improve their interviewing skills.
Aaron Byers
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: technical
Useful and practical, at least for the purpose I read it. The UX graduate class required it but it wasn't a waste of time. I don't plan on interviewing people, but if I were...this would give not just the theoretical concepts but the practical tips, too. ...more
Colleen McClowry
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. It's a concise, foundational tool for anyone interested in conducting user research for an organization. ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a good review of key components of a qualitative research study.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
Great book!

There are some basic ideas which make it a solid resource for people new to user interviews, and some great nuggets appealing to someone with more experience.
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Steve Portigal is an experienced user researcher who helps organizations to build more mature user research practices. Based outside of San Francisco, he is principal of Portigal Consulting, and the author of two books: The classic Interviewing Users: How To Uncover Compelling Insights and Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories.

He’s also the host of the Dollars to Donuts

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