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Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights

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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 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 people. Interviewing Users will explain how to succeed with interviewing, including: * Embracing how other people see the world * Building rapport to create engaging and exciting interactions * Listening in order to build rapport. With this book, Steve Portigal uses stories and examples from his 15 years of experience to show how interviewing can be incorporated into the design process, helping you learn the best and right information to inform and inspire your design.


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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 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 people. Interviewing Users will explain how to succeed with interviewing, including: * Embracing how other people see the world * Building rapport to create engaging and exciting interactions * Listening in order to build rapport. With this book, Steve Portigal uses stories and examples from his 15 years of experience to show how interviewing can be incorporated into the design process, helping you learn the best and right information to inform and inspire your design.

30 review for Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights

  1. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Overview 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 Overview 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 stages of an interview b) how to ask questions and c) problem Interviewers. As I mentioned earlier, Interviewing Users works from a market research/ethnographic approach. So it's not going to provide step by step instructions on doing usability testing, but it will help you think about the overall structure of your testing. Stages of the Interview Much like the stages of grief, for Portigal, there are also stages of interviews. They include: 1) Crossing the threshold 2) Restating objectives 3) Kick-off questions 4) Accept the awkwardness 5) The tipping point 6) Reflection and projection 7) The soft close Described in more detail: 1) This is the moment when the interviewee enters the actual office, room, etc. in which they will be interviewed. This is also when you as the interviewer set up your camera, get the seats situated, etc. 2) Who knows under what conditions the interviewee was drafted? Take this moment at a high level to explain what will happen, how long, etc. Do they have questions? 3) Start with the broad and work to the specific. Your first question, should be one which eases the user into the line of questions. For example "What is your job?" 4) The interviewee although you've reminded them this is not a test of them, will feel uncomfortable, perhaps even resistant. Go with it and accept that this part of the process. Put them ease. Be patient. Ask questions. 5) One can't predict when this will happen, but a transition will occur with the interviewee and you the interviewer. A rapport will begin to develop. 6) You'll be capturing the interviewing details and then the interviewer begins to think outside of the immediate on a more high level. 7) The questions have been asked and it's time for the interviewer to go home. Keep the camera or recording device rolling. This is the moment when crucial information may be revealed. Portigal calls this the "doorknob phenomenon." Silence as Encouragement to Talk Portigal discusses at length the importance of quiet. He delves into interviews he's conducted in Japan. Quiet/silence acts as a way to suggest encouragement to talk, respect and thought about a question asked and even to suggest the difficulty of a question asked. While Americans he contrast as having less intense social code around quiet, he does advocate for give pauses after an interviewer has provided an answer. While part of you as new interviewer is screaming to say something, take a moment. There may be more insights the interviewee has to share with you. I won't go into all of the specifics, but Portigal also has a nice list of about 18 questions which will help you dig deeper into the participant's understanding and answers. The question categories for these include - gathering context and collecting details, probe what's been unsaid and contrasts to uncover frameworks. Problem Interviewees The Quiet One How do you get someone to open it who's giving you simple 1-2 word responses? The author advocates trying to determine the source of their discomfort. Are you discussing some sort of social taboo? Tapping into an element of their insecurity about their work, life, etc? Be flexible in these situations and adjust your questions. Perhaps change the topic or share something about yourself. If none of these approaches works, be direct and ask what is their source of discomfort. Consider changing the time and location of the interview. Who are you and where did you come from interviewee? Ideally you've screened your interviewee, but things happen and people slip through the cracks. So you've got the wrong kind of interviewee? Reevaluate how you screened, maybe a particular word in the criteria had multiple meanings. Also don't consider the interview a total wash. Take the time to gain what you can from this person. The Talker First and foremost evaluate if you're getting the answers you want. Do by all means give them space to talk, but if their headed in another direction redirect their line of answers. When all else fails interrupt and remind them of the time constraints of the interview and that you want to make sure to cover all of the topics on your lists to help the project, client, etc. Final Thoughts There are certainly more gems to be found in Interviewing Users and as it's a mere 170 pages a no brainer to add to your reading list.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Finally got back to this. Great stuff.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    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 :)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Moayad Taibah

    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 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, and is full of examples and specific do's and dont's. It helped me see the overall picture of interview studies and go into details to perceive the different challenges I might, if i haven't already, face and how to overcome or at least monitor them. The anecdotes mentioned by the author and the case studies highlighting the main points of each chapter helped cement the primary concepts in my mind and helped me connect the dots to what needed to be done as well as provide helpful tips and tricks for the whole endeavor. I would recommend this book to any researcher, whether he/she is just getting started or have already been through the mill a few times. This is a good book to keep in handy if you're considering conducting interviews to understand your users.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Wish I had a chance to do more of this kind of thing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    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 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 formal, qualitative research undertaking. Recommended even for experienced practitioners.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Corina

    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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sai

    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 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 their next paragraph - an interview is preferring going super deep on a small sample size of users rather collecting a generic survey over a large sample size; this understanding makes the the impact of the activity transparent - to elaborate on that point, interviews should go from question-answer-question-answer loops to question-story. Hitting this point in every interview should be the goal of any successful interview, and that is you really make an impact from the exercise - don't rush to help the participant if they're using a product incorrectly, this is not a tech support call Apart from the non-intuitive pointers above, there were also many obvious, yet in-depth guidelines on how to perform the prep work for a successful interview.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cristiano Dalbem

    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 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 some parts and real-life examples on others. From all Research techniques, even with a personal bias to quantitative, I was always a fan of user interviews in any project situation because of the richness of the insights and the high potential for generating empathy in the team. Now after studying Portigal I'm even more certain of how powerful this tool can be, and feeling empowered to make it happen. (oh and Steve seems to be the smartest and sweetest guy!)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anirudh Jain

    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 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 like switch off your cell phone. Not to discredit steve but a lot of the formal pointers and info could have been completed in 2o pages and he could fill the rest with war stories and even further tips. He did include case studies and interview experiences of other researchers as well. All in all a great book if you decide that you want to read just one book to understand how to take interviews.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Stublefield

    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 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 environment or a product, and while that’s interesting, it didn’t match my expectations or needs. The guidance related to question format, remaining silent, the roles of secondary and tertiary interviewers, and other more generic instruction was great, but a LOT of this book is about how to conduct yourself and make good observations in-person.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jade Jenkins

    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 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 you're a slow reader like me, you could probably finish it in one day if you were committed to doing so.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joe Morris

    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 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 great read!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Daniela D

    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, 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, this isn't the right book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anton Kostadinov

    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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maddie Nastase

    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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    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..

  20. 5 out of 5

    David Dikman

    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.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Natalía Papadopoúlou

    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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ola

    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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Becky Sroufe

    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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael Szeto

    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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Colleen McClowry

    I enjoyed the book. It's a concise, foundational tool for anyone interested in conducting user research for an organization.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Qwerty88

    This is a good review of key components of a qualitative research study.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    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.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bindu Upadhyay

    If you are experienced in conducting interviews, you can use this book as a quick knowledge refresher. You can find some useful and practical tips around the whole interviewing process.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Just like the way we do researches.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dharmesh Raithatha

    This is for the serious user researchers that want to define their craft. I read it, absorbed it but it wasn't amazing for my context.

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