Posts tagged “steve portigal”

Steve interviewed by Tomer Sharon

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I was interviewed by Tomer Sharon (as part of his incredible series of interviews for It’s Our Research). Our conversation ranged from about why it’s hard for people to do user research, the collaboration between agency and clients, and how to think about organizational and stakeholder challenges as design problems.

The 22-minute video is embedded below and can also be seen at the first link.

Don’t Bother, Braun

Today, I am proud to carry on the lively tradition of eviscerating… I mean, learning valuable lessons from other folk’s attempts at research. I will be examining a Braun-fielded poll that appeared on my Facebook page. (Recent notable additions to the oeuvre include Jared Spool’s 19 Lessons from United Airlines on How To Build a Crappy Survey and Steve’s imagined reaction to a Netflix survey, Effective Concept Testing: Getting the Answers You Want to Hear!)

OK, here it is:

I have a few questions.

1) Who? The pollsters don’t seem to care that I am neither a fan nor a consumer of Braun shavers specifically, or of electric shavers in general. They’ve got the audience all wrong. To respond would merely be to sabotoge their data-set in response to the absurdity. Which of course I wouldn’t dream of doing!

2) What is the purpose of this (Part I)? What is the marketing or social media team going to do with this information? What is the business question behind this? Knowing, as they must, that the data will be terribly corrupted, they can’t possibly believe that they’re actually getting useful information. So maybe it’s just one of these crazy social media ploys that appears to be important research but is really a bit of marketing designed at the level of a made-you-look joke?

3) What is the purpose of this (Part II)? If they just want me to look, then what did they want me to think upon having seen this survey/ad/poll? Is is supposed to intrigue me into thinking, “GOSH now I do wonder how new and different Braun shavers actually are! Let me look into that and then get back to them on this relevant question.” (If so, where’s the link?) Or is it, “Wow – Braun makes electric shavers!” Or is it merely an unconscious, Pavlovian Braaaaauuuuunn they’re trying to get? “Oh yeah, Braun is a brand. I need a shave.” Or do they really just want me to answer their ridiculous question?

4) Can it make sense, please? Don’t ask me to compare Braun, a brand responsible for a wide variety of consumer products, to the more specific but still questionable category of “other electric shavers.” I can’t compare things that are not comparable.

5) “New and Different?” Really? New and different are not necessarily positives, especially as those attributes relate to whirring blades that come into contact with your body parts. Is this the most important consumer response that the marketing team is really hoping to understand, if, in fact, they are hoping to understand anything at all?

6) Wait… anonymous or not? The question mark there, which (I know, I know) is a what-does-this-mean question mark probably linking to a privacy policy still reads like a sleazy wink. Fingers crossed! Your response may or may not be kept anonymous.

Even though I’ve no doubt that this is an insignifiant throw-away in the overall universe of Braun marketing, it definitely made an impression. If you’re going to bother to ask people questions, know who you’re asking and make it seem, even just a little bit, like the whole exercise matters to you.

We’ve learned quite a bit from other people’s surveys many times before:
Bad Survey Design. Please Stop!
Son of Survey
Son of Survey Madness
Thank You For Voting
The Space Between Yes and No
Does Calling it a Report Card Make it Not a Survey?
Survey Revenge

Sign up for this week’s webinar on Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets

On January 28th, I’ll be presenting a UIE Virtual Seminar on Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets. Sign up here!

You”ll learn how to ask great interview questions and take your user research to the next level. You’ll see that the best information comes from what Steve calls “breathing their air”-getting out of YOUR environment and into THEIR environment. Empathy brings about the best understanding. In this not-to-miss-seminar, you’ll get:

  • How to prepare your Field Guide: the complete overview of interviewing questions and other techniques that go beyond the spoken interrogative.
  • An understanding of how to build rapport with your users through listening, and the many ways to do that effectively.
  • How to work with varying levels of experience and expertise, in your user community, and even within your own team.
  • Techniques to use when any opportunity presents itself, even those chance encounters with users.
  • Lots of great examples. The good, the bad, and yes, the ugly.

This seminar will provide techniques for your design team getting them to a solid understanding of your customers’ and users’ needs. You’ll come away with techniques and tools you’ll want to put to use right away. Once you do, you’ll see immediate benefits and better designs as a result.

Check out a quick preview of the session, and register here. Use promotion code CHITTAHCHATTAH to get lifetime free access to the recording after the fact (normally a separate cost).

Learn the art of asking questions in Steve Portigal’s UIE Virtual Seminar

On January 28, I’ll be presenting a UIE Virtual Seminar entitled Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets.

Steve Portigal will show your team the art of asking the question. You might visit the user in their office or home, have them come to you for a usability test, or even have a chance encounter at a trade show or while waiting for an airplane. Do you know what to ask? Do you know what to listen for, to extract the critical detail of what they can tell you about your design?

Steve will help you prepare your team for any opportunity, be it formal user research or less structured, ad-hoc research. He’ll also give you tips on how to work with your stakeholders and executives, who may also be meeting potential customers and users, so they know what to ask and how to listen-integrating their efforts into the research team. (Wouldn’t it be great if they understood why you’re doing what you’re doing?)

I’ve also put together this quick preview to get you more of a sense of what I’m going to cover.

Sign up here for this informative event!

Update: Use promotion code CHITTAHCHATTAH to get lifetime free access to the recording after the fact (normally a separate cost)

Speed of Innovation: Steve Portigal featured in Lunar Design podcast

Inspired by my interactions column Hold Your Horses, I was interviewed for a Lunar Design podcast.

How do speed, creativity and innovation intertwine in the design process? In this Connections episode, Gretchen Anderson and Lisa Leckie talk with Steve Portigal of Portigal Consulting about getting results through design research.

Listen to podcast:

Please wait here. We’ll be right back with some fresh hot insight.

I was interviewed recently for What insight is ethnography delivering? (PDF). It’s a pretty clear piece, and I think we show well in it. Lots of tidbits but the closest thing to controversy is this:

Portigal accepts that while there needs to be conditions, such as a ban on any logos being worn by the accompanying client, and an agreement to undertake some basic workshop training to introduce them to the principles of field work, he is happy to bring along a member of the client’s team. “It’s the 80/20 rule: we ask 80% questions, you ask 20%. It takes them a couple of practices and then I think they can make a really valuable contribution.”

However, for O’Brien, the very thought of having a non-team member accompany out in the field is a non-issue. “We simply don’t believe in it,” he says. “The fewer people, the better. If you start crowding a room out, how is the participant going to feel comfortable? In fact, we have even lost jobs over it.”

It took me many years to come around to this way of thinking, but as our work has become more about facilitating our clients to take action and less about handing off insights, it seems right on for us. I’d love to hear what you think!

Disciplinarity and Rigour? My keynote from Design Research Society conference

I was recently in the UK to give the opening keynote at the Design Research Society’s Undisciplined conference. I detail some of my academic and professional history and talk about the concerns of a practitioner, perhaps an alternate take on what many in the audience (designers from academic settings) are thinking about themselves.

Here are slides and audio in separate widgets. You can start the audio and advance the slides manually to follow along. The talk goes for about 45 minutes and the discussion for another 25 or so.

< Audio [audio src="StevePortigal_DRS2008.mp3"] Also, see my London and Sheffield pictures here.

Steve Portigal’s upcoming column in Interactions Magazine

I’ll be contributing a regular column to Interactions Magazine in 2008. I can’t wait til the issues ship and their website goes live!

We see a world rich with culture, emotion and human connections. The human-built world has afforded a sense of beauty, sublimity and resonance, and through our advancements in technology can come advances in society. At the heart of these advances are interactions: conversations and dialogues. Interactions exists to tie together experiences, people and technology, and to provide an international venue for dialogue and the forging of relationships.

Portigal in the New York Times Magazine!

I was interviewed by Rob Walker for his most recent Consumed column, about unconsumption (in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine).

In a sense, what Freecycle has done is channel the same blend of utility and pleasure that motivates consumption itself. Steve Portigal, a business-strategy consultant based in Montara, Calif., founded a Freecycle group for the San Francisco area’s coastal communities in 2004. “Getting something you need and getting rid of something you don’t need are both satisfying as problems solved,” he points out. But while we’re all well trained in the former, the latter often exceeds our patience and know-how.

I’ve written here before about Freecycle. Also, Walker has a good thread on unconsumption on his blog. I think it’s a fascinating area that is ripe for more exploration and solution development.
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I’m worth a million in prizes

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I’m officiating (? for lack of a better term) at The Bay Area’s Best

Please come out to celebrate the impact the Bay Area industrial design community had in the 2006 IDSA & Business Week Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). Out of 1,494 entries submitted from 29 countries, Bay Area firms, corporations and individuals won 16 of the 108 awards given. That is 15% of all of the awards given out internationally.

7:00 – 8:00
Tunes/ DJs Ric-Tic Soul 66 and Super Mod 67, spinning genuine 1960’s and early 70’s Soul, Motown, R&B, and Funk.
Moves/ Authentic 60’s style Go-Go dancers
Drinks/ Cocktails
Eats/ Tapas

8:00 – 9:00
Door prizes and award presentation by Steve Portigal

9:00 – 11:00
Music dance drink

Cross-Cultural Research

Notes from my UXWeek session are online (not sure how helpful they are without hearing me talk through the issues, (Update: you can hear me talk through the issues here) but if you want to, check out Dan Saffer’s notes or the notes from the wiki.

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Hawai’i makai/mauka signs
different orientation toward navigation: toward mountain, toward ocean
difference in how we move through space

so what?
mundane observations reveal differences in cultural needs or drivers

D.C. bound

User Experience Week 2006 is coming up in just 2 weeks. I’m looking forward to the event; I’ve never been to D.C. before, looking forward to seeing Michael Bierut and some of the other presenters. My talk and Jared Spool’s take place simultaneously, so I can expect an (ahem) intimate audience, I guess.

I know some of the folks who will be there (especially other presenters), but I’d love to hear from other folks who will be at UX Week?

Series

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