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Interviewing Users

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Interviewing Users

How to Uncover Compelling Insights

Rosenfeld Media LLC,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To design for users, you need to understand them. 

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • For Beginners


Competitive companies increasingly rely on user research done through interviews. Researching design and utility is crucial, whether you’re creating an app, a website, a coffeemaker, a device, a system or a package. While digressive and occasionally idiomatic, veteran interviewer Steve Portigal provides engaging advice and insight in this step-by-step guide for novices who want to optimize every encounter. The ability to conduct a successful interview, he says, springs from your skills and preparation. People like it when you ask their opinions, Portigal says, and almost everyone has an interesting story.


Many companies incorporate user research into their designs.

Designing for the user is now standard in many industries. To design for users, you must understand them. That requires qualitative or quantitative research into their behaviors and preferences. The product you design can’t be only what you would use, so be aware of the pitfall of confusing yourself with your user. A good researcher studies people in their context, explores their behavior and the meaning behind them, interprets the data and applies these insights drawn from user input to help a company improve its design.

Interviewing customers drives “reframes” – shifts in perspective that illuminate designers’ goals in new ways. Such interviews can drive innovation. To optimize a reframe, interview your users at different stages in the product development process.

Various research techniques for different situations include:

  1. Usability testing – Observe users as they interact with the product in a controlled environment.
  2. A/B testing – Ask users to compare two...

About the Author

Portigal Consulting founder Steve Portigal speaks at corporate events and conferences. His articles on culture, design, innovation and interviewing users have been published in Interactions, Core77, Ambidextrous and Johnny Holland. He blogs at

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