This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 9:29 am, Monday July 27 2015

Howdy, all….

  • The travel is booked. The incentive envelopes are stuffed. The field guide is revised. Now we’re just waiting for the recruiter to fill the slots this weekend and next week. I know it always works out but it’s nerve-wracking having everything but participants.
  • While I wait for fieldwork to kick off, I’m doing the usual mix of prepping for upcoming talks and chatting with clients about future engagements.
  • I’ll be teaching my workshop Soft Skills Are Hard at two upcoming events: in San Francisco at the end of August for UX Week and in London in October for Interact 15.
  • Ten years gone: From July 2005 – Library rhetoric, my rant against the anti-flipchart rant, a visit to Adobe, ABC Stores.
  • What we’re consuming: Jurassic World, Boiling Beijing, Rolling Pin Donuts.
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The Insight at Scale track from Enterprise UX
By Steve Portigal at 12:21 pm, Monday July 20 2015

A couple of months ago I moderated the “Insight at Scale” track at the Enterprise UX conference, which featured three presentations and discussion. The videos for each presentation (and our discussion) are below as well as links to the slide decks. There’s also sketch notes for the whole session.


Insight Types That Influence Enterprise Decision Makers – Christian Rohrer, Vice President and Chief Design Officer, Intel Security (slides)


Data Science and Design: A Tale of Two Tribes – Chris Chapo, Operations at ENJOY (slides)


Emotion Economy: Ethnography as Corporate Strategy – Kelly Goto, author of Web Redesign 2.0 (slides)


Discussion

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 9:44 am, Monday July 20 2015

Welcome to the week!

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 9:21 am, Monday July 13 2015

A hearty welcome to the week!

  • We’re finalizing a few reports this weeks: discussions with client stakeholders, a review of our client’s existing research and secondary reports, and finally our own secondary reserach. In addition to giving us a lot of big questions to chew on, it’s also informing who we want to talk to for this study and we’ve got a screener almost finalized and ready to share with recruiters for fieldwork in DC and Denver next month.
  • I’ve been waiting for about 3 months for a contract to make it’s way through the corporate purchasing process; we got one document signed last week and any day now we hope to get the next one signed and then schedule a kickoff meeting. Every week I think that that maybe it’ll happen next week, and then…we wait. Still, we’re all astonished at how long it’s taking!
  • We got a new War Story last week from Susan Simon Daniels. Check it out!
  • In London this October, I’ll be at Interact 15 to teach a workshop, Soft Skills Are Hard.
  • Ten years gone: From July 2005 – Facehugger plushie, the end of free pretzels, squid spam.
  • What we’re consuming: Jersey, PACHI, architectural lattice, bamboo.
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Susie’s War Story: A Sigh Is Just A Sigh
By Steve Portigal at 8:11 am, Thursday July 09 2015
Part 73 of 73 in the series War Stories

Susan Simon Daniels is a Senior Design Insights Analyst at BlackBerry in Waterloo, ON.

In September 2012, I was interviewing people who had recently purchased and set up a smartphone. During the interview, I asked the participants to unbox and set up another, new smartphone to see if any usability problems emerged.

One of the interviews was with a male in his late 40s who worked as a translator for people whose first language was not English (I’ll call him “Rick.”) As he unpacked the box that contained the new smartphone, Rick frowned and sighed. I watched silently and noted that a few moments later Rick sighed again.

At this point, the researcher inside my brain was shouting, “Red alert! There’s a problem! There’s a problem!” After a few more moments, I turned to him and said, “Rick, I noticed you’re frowning a bit and you’ve sighed a couple of times. Can you tell me why?”

I waited, fingers poised to capture the fatal flaw that the participant had discovered in the product set up – something so egregious that it evoked a heavy sigh!

Rick turned to me and instead shared a personal story. Both he and his spouse had recently lost their parents. These major life events, complicated by delays in traveling to another continent for funerals and family arrangements, left a lingering sadness that crept up on Rick during quiet moments.

His sigh was just a sigh – not a signal of a defect or usability issue to solve, but a personal moment I happened to witness. We talked for a few minutes about his loss and how he was feeling and then Rick returned to the task at hand and continued to unbox and set up the phone.

We had passed through an awkward moment. I felt I had rudely probed into an open wound. But I had to ask the question. I couldn’t assume the frown and sighs were caused by the product or process. My job was to get to the why. At the same time, by taking a few minutes to let the person share how he was feeling, I was able to give Rick the time he needed to gather himself together and continue with the task at hand.

In the end, Rick contributed by uncovering a couple of areas of improvement for the product. And I found that taking a moment to pause, to just be human beings who shared a bit of sympathy, allowed us to resume the interview with dignity and purpose.

I’m reminded of a verse from the song “As Time Goes By” (music and lyrics by Herman Hupfeld) from the classic war-romance movie Casablanca.

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

And the fundamental things do apply: never assume and always ask “why?”

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 9:37 am, Monday July 06 2015

Ugh. The Monday after a long weekend is dislocating. The fact that I stayed up until 2:00 am restoring an errant PC is probably not helping.

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Out and About: Steve in Las Vegas
By Steve Portigal at 9:28 am, Wednesday July 01 2015

I was in Las Vegas last week to kick off a new project. Here’s some of my pictures from my time there.

glitter-gulch

warning

mantis

mural

marquee

711

marquee-2

sock

red

hotel

bitcoin

jerky

texture

somers

chapel

motel

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 9:28 am, Monday June 29 2015

It’s officially summer!

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 9:14 am, Monday June 22 2015

Monday, Monday, Monday.

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 10:05 am, Monday June 15 2015

Well, a good day to all!

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A new article about what I learned while doodling
By Steve Portigal at 10:08 am, Tuesday June 09 2015

I’ve just published What I Learned From 100 Doodles in 100 Days, my first article in a long time. Here’s an excerpt, but check out the whole thing on Medium.

Last November I sat in the audience at the HOW Interactive Design Conference as Jim Krause spoke about “Habitual Creativity.” He talked about breaking out of unconscious habits (e.g., driving to work the same way each day and never really “seeing” what was around you) and creating new habits by taking on new behaviors. At some point during his talk, I made a note that read simply “100 doodles in 100 days project.”

The idea of taking something new and doing it deliberately and repeatedly appealed to me. I was even reminded of other efforts like Rachel Hinman’s 2008 project “90 mobiles in 90 days.”

After making the note, I set the idea aside, eventually deciding to kick the project off in the New Year. I framed the task in a way that was safe for me. No, don’t worry, I’m not drawing, I’m not even sketching. I’m just doodling! Doodles aren’t of consequence, they’re little visuals you do mindlessly in the margin of your notebook to keep your hands busy while talking on the telephone. They aren’t intended to be “good” (whatever that means).

thanks

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 10:14 am, Monday June 08 2015

Howdy to a sunny Monday to begin the week.

  • I’m back to Boston on Wednesday for one last quick trip. We’re running a day of brainstorming workshops with our client, helping them to think divergently about the different products and services they could create to support their users better. We’re all very excited about it. I’m especially pleased that even though I was supposed to have completed my work a few weeks ago, they extended my contract so that I could be part of these workshops.
  • We just got a greenlight for another project and I expec this week will see a small flurry of contract and schedule activity. Probably right at the same time as another project – one that has been moving very slowly through the approval process – will blossom. It’ll work out, somehow!
  • Tomorrow I’ll be publishing an article about the 100 Doodles in 100 Days project. This is the first piece I’ve written in a very long time; I can’t think of anything that I’ve written in the two years since Interviewing Users came out. I’m looking forward to your reactions.
  • My hosts at RGD recorded last week’s Interviewing Users webinar; as soon as I have the link I’ll post the video.
  • I’ll be returning to Fluxible in September, speaking about War Stories.
  • I’ll be doing the closing keynote at Interact 15 in London this October. Details about a workshop coming soon.
  • A lot of people are asking when Dollars to Donuts is coming back. I’m looking for sponsors who can help defray the costs to produce another season. If your organization can help, please get in touch.
  • Ten years gone: From June 2005 – Campbell’s Soup seed cans, captive airline advertising, John Doe around the world.
  • What we’re consuming: Tetro, Momiji.
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Out and About: Steve in Cambridge
By Steve Portigal at 11:17 am, Wednesday June 03 2015

I’ve been at Cambridge a couple of times in the past couple of months (and may be going back next week). Here’s some of the pictures from my visits.

boston-1
Please do not throw coins in the water. It will negatively affect the fish.

boston-2
Book sale in Harvard Square, using a Bitcoin-powered honor system for payment.

boston-3
got tori amos?

boston-4
Public safety.

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Out and About: Steve in Houston
By Steve Portigal at 11:14 am, Tuesday June 02 2015

I was in Houston a few weeks back to teach a user research workshop at a client’s site. I did get some time to take photos and here’s a few.

houston-1
Welcome hackers

houston-2
Spec’s liquor

houston-3
Donut

houston-4
GUNS

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Out and About: Steve in San Antonio
By Steve Portigal at 11:08 am, Monday June 01 2015

A couple of weeks ago I was in San Antonio, where I was one of the presenters and workshop leaders at the Enterprise UX conference. Here are some of my pictures.

sa1
Out the hotel window, before the sun comes up.

sa2
Welcome to the party.

sa3
This toilet was flirting with me.

sa4
sa6
Roasted? Iced? Local language norms or just really fancy catering?

sa5
sa7
Conference breakfasts.

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