Now available: Managing Priorities by Harry Max

Believe it or not, Steve Portigal’s UX research classic Interviewing Users came out ten years ago, back in 2013. A few things about user research have changed since then, to put it mildly, so we at Rosenfeld did two things: we convinced Steve to write a second edition (coming out October 17), and to join us on the Rosenfeld Review to discuss all the things that have changed.

In addition to being an author, Steve is a user researcher, consultant, and teacher. He helps companies grow their businesses, culture, and brands by interviewing users. He also helps companies build more mature in-house research practices.

Having been on both sides of the interviewing process – as both interviewer and interviewee – Steve can empathize with both roles. Over the last decade, he has seen user research evolve from a focus on consumer products to company culture and supportive technologies in the B2B space.

Effective research, in addition to data gathering, involves analysis and synthesis. Steve defines analysis as breaking bigger things into smaller things and synthesis as putting what was broken down back together into a new framework, or insight. This is where the magic of research happens. A chapter dedicated to the art of analysis and synthesis is one of the profound additions to this latest edition of his book.

What you’ll learn from this episode:

  • About Interviewing Users and what’s new in the second edition
  • About Steve’s work as a researcher, author, and consultant and how his work has shifted over the last decade
  • Changes in the research field and why most of us are researchers to one degree or another, even if it’s not in your title or job description
  • How analysis and synthesis are different and why both are needed for insights
  • About the “We already knew that” response many researchers get and what it really means


Quick Reference Guide

[0:00:19] Introduction of Steve Portigal

[0:04:30] Experience on both sides of the interview process

[0:08:06] Shifts in language and jargon Steve has noted over the last decade

[0:12:13] The evolution of user research – less with consumers and more within businesses or B2B

[0:15:10] Speculation on where the leading edge of user research will be – or perhaps more importantly, who will be doing it – in another 10 years

[0:19:02] Rosenfeld Media Communities

[0:21:17] What’s new in the 2nd Edition version of Interviewing Users – analysis, synthesis, and insights

[0:28:38] “We already knew that” phenomenon that researchers often encounter

[0:32:20] Steve’s gift for listeners


Resources and links from today’s episode:

Interviewing Users (2nd edition) by Steve Portigal…second-edition/

Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories by Steve Portigal…ch-war-stories/

“How-to with John Wilson” on HBO