Stories make the world go round. As people who do user research, we love stories. At its simplest, our job is to gather stories and to retell them. War stories about contextual user research and the inevitable mishaps that ensue are in turn bizarre, comic, tragic, and generally astonishing.
Drawing from years spent gathering war stories and his book Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries, Steve Portigal shares some of the best stories he’s collected, examining the patterns revealed by the stories and articulating the different lessons revealed by his large collection.
Steve’s collection of stories fills a longstanding need for the design and research community: sharing what can go wrong in the real world. For a practice that is not 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 Portigal is the founder and principal of Portigal Consulting, a boutique firm that brings together user research, design and business strategy, where he helps companies to think and act strategically when innovating with user insights. Steve is the author of Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights and Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories. He’s also the host of the Dollars to Donuts podcast. Steve makes his home in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there’s always a new ramen restaurant to check out.
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