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Frequently Asked Questions

These common questions about online learning and design and their short answers are taken from Steve Portigal’s book Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights (2nd edition). You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.

  1. What’s new in the second edition?
    This edition features two new chapters: one about analysis and synthesis and sharing research results, and another about ensuring that your user research efforts will have an impact on your organization. There are seven new short essays (we call them sidebars) from guest contributors. Plus, you’ll find updated examples, stories, and tips for leading interviews, and new sections about bias, remote research, ResearchOps, planning research, and research logistics.
  2. Why is this even a book? Isn’t this really just talking to people? I already know how to do that!
    To actually learn something new requires interviewing, not just chatting. Unskilled interviewing leads to inaccurate and misleading information that can take your business in the wrong direction. This practice is a skill that can be fundamentally different than what you normally do in conversation. Great interviewers leverage their natural style of interacting with people, but make deliberate, specific choices about what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and when to say nothing. Doing this well is hard and takes years of practice.
  3. Wait, is this book about interviewing or about user research?
    User research is the larger practice, and interviewing is a particularly powerful method that you can combine with other research approaches. Learning how to interview prepares you with foundational skills in listening and asking questions that can be valuable in other methods as well.
  4. We don’t have time in our development process to interview our users, so what should we do?
    Sometimes “we don’t have time” is a more rational-seeming way of saying “we don’t need to.” A strong product vision is important, but understanding what that vision means when it leaves your bubble is make-or-break stuff.

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