Our Review of “Interviewing Users” by Steve Portigal

Steve Portigal’s new book examines techniques that uncover compelling insights during user research.

I’ve been following Steve Portigal’s work for many years and have used many of his approaches and methods in my own design research. So, when I heard that Steve was writing a book on the art and craft of design research, I immediately ordered a copy. After reading “Interviewing Users” I wanted to share my impressions and thoughts.

The book was really insightful and inspiring from beginning to end. I found that Steve was able to capture the essence of many techniques and methodologies at expert level depth, while still delivering novice level understanding. As an experienced design researcher, this allowed me to easily grasp new ideas and learn extremely nuanced elements about common practices I was already familiar with. The use of case studies and stories from the field, quickly and vividly illustrate these points.

At many points in the book, I found myself stopping to think about integrating new ideas into my own practice. This not only helped reveal gaps in my process, but also new ways to improve and expand on existing methods and techniques. I also eagerly shared these new insights with colleagues at Myplanet, from fellow researchers and designers to product owners and account leads.

On first read, the book provided tremendous value, but I can also tell that I will be flipping through its pages again. The book is a tremendous point of reference and will be very useful in preparing me for my next user interview or design analysis session.

On first read, the book provided tremendous value, but I can also tell that I will be flipping through its pages again.


It’s a quick read, at only 158 pages, but still dense enough to warrant careful reading. I would recommend it to anyone starting out in the field of user experience design, especially students or industry first timers. I would have been miles ahead If I had read this book when I first got began design research, but better late than never. This will definitely be a must-read for new design researchers coming on board at Myplanet. My one complaint is the brevity of the research analysis and synthesis section, but Steve even points out that these two subjects warrant their own books.

However, after tweeting Steve for more info on these domains, he steered me to John Kolko’s book, “Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis”. The book was already on my wish list, so it will be interesting to see how the two dovetail together. He also suggested watching his presentation “We’ve done all this research, now what?“, which does a good job of exploring some elements of analysis and synthesis in more detail.

Written by

Nate Archer

Nate Archer

Sign up for our newsletter