Book Review for Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal

A short review of Steve Portigal’s book Interviewing Users, and my experience with creating "One pagers" for interviews, which I learned about from Steve's book.
Part of the book cover Interviewing Users (Image Credit: rosenfeldmedia.com)

A friend once told me that he thinks the best way to squeeze a lime is to microwave it for a few seconds before squeezing, another friend prefers to slice the lime into quarters before squeezing. I myself like to press and roll the limes on the kitchen counter – to soften and release the juice before slicing and juicing them. Aside from sounding oppressive to the limes, all of these are legitimate ways to get lime juice :), but it is always interesting to see and learn new approaches which might enhance our everyday ways of working.

This is what today’s review of Steve Portigal’s book Interviewing Users brings to mind.

Steve is a highly experienced user research consultant, host of Dollars to Donuts podcast, and the author of two books: Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights and Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories.

Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights

As suggested by the name, Interviewing Users zooms into interviews as a research method and gives step-by-step guidance with examples on conducting successful interviews. The book presents details of every step from preparation to reporting with clear examples. This includes things like lists of sample question types, example field guides for observers or fellow attendees, examples of a topline or a summary report, etc.

It is not a textbook with detailed references or theories, and for experienced user researchers it will not be a game-changer. But it is like having a long (one-way) conversation with a fellow user researcher who has loads of experience. And reading about his approach makes you reflect on your own approach. I would totally recommend Steve’s book for anyone conducting interviews with users.

One-pagers

A specific tip I learned from Interviewing Users is – Creating “one-pagers”, that is, creating a one-page summary after every interview, especially for longer interviews. It saves time and helps with better analysis later by enabling multiple passes over data. Steve refers to these as the ‘Field Highlights’.

You can read my experience with one-pagers in this article published by UXinsight: One-pagers in User Research — Notes on the book Interviewing Users

Do you have any go-to books for specific methods?

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