Workshop Details

Interviewing users is undeniably one of the most valuable and commonly used user research tools. Yet sometimes we forget that it’s a skill we need to learn, because it’s based on skills we think we have (talking or even listening), and it’s not taught or reflected on.

People tend to ‘wing it’ rather than develop their skills, but without good interviewing skills, research results may be inaccurate or reveal nothing new, suggesting the wrong design or business responses, or they may miss the crucial nuance that points to innovative breakthrough opportunities.

In this workshop, we’ll consider how to frame the problem, when to use research in the design process, and the tactics for setting up a successful study. We will focus in detail on the interview itself, reviewing detailed techniques for listening and asking questions, then conclude with an engaging exercise to bring these best practices to life.

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Learning From User Research War Stories

Keynote Details

Stories make the world go round. As researchers, we love stories, and essentially, it's our job to gather stories and to retell them. War Stories are stories about contextual user research and the inevitable mishaps that ensue, which are in turn bizarre, comic, tragic, and generally, astonishing.

Steve will share some of the best stories from his book Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries, examining the patterns and lessons they reveal. For a practice that isn’t always well understood or trusted, there’s pressure to only speak to the successes. But examining the human messiness of this work can help develop our skills and our community. Steve’s collection of stories fills a longstanding need for the design and research community—sharing what can go wrong in the real world.


Steve Portigal helps companies to think and act strategically when innovating with user insights. 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 new, Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories. He's also the host of the Dollars to Donuts podcast, where he interviews people who lead user research in their organizations. Steve is an accomplished presenter who speaks about culture, innovation, and design at companies and conferences across the globe.