Book Review: Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal

I recently read Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal. I chose this book to brush up on my skills for interviewing customers. I develop software for a living, and feel strongly that learning directly from customers is vital for building the best product for them, and this book did not disappoint. Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights (Author: Steve Portigal, Publisher: Rosenfeld Media, Released: May 2013)

Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal

Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal


Steve Portigal is a user researcher, sharing his framework, and experience in this eBook, for conducting interviews as part of an overall user research program.

The core of the eBook is chapter 2, which presents the framework for conducting a user interview: preparation, actually conducting the interview, recording information gathered, analyzing and decomposing the information into insights, finally presenting the findings.

He covers the context for each topic, why that topic is important and how it relates to the bigger picture of user research. He also shares many examples and stories that happened in real interviews. I also got a lot of value from Steve’s tips and tricks, which he obviously learned through experience.

Additional good things about this eBook:

  • I felt like I actually learned from his experience. I felt like I was conversing with Mr. Portigal, with him teaching me how to interview customers. His many stories and tips made this book feel conversational.
  • Companion websites: all of the photos from the book are available on, which make it easy to incorporate those in any subsequent presentation that I would like to make. The photos are copyrighted.
  • The companion website has links to videos for more in-depth learning, and templates to use. (Look for the resources link, after wading through the sea of links that are advertising the book itself). The companion sites will help me actually apply these lessons back in my profession.
  • Right up front, the eBook contains a FAQ section. Each question/answer has a couple of paragraphs and a link to the most relevant chapter associated with that question.

I received a free copy of this eBook in order to review it. If I had purchased it at the eBook price, I think it would have been a good value. I was able to read this in an afternoon, and gain from Mr. Portigal’s experience.  As a software engineer, not a professional user researcher, I would have been disappointed though, at the value had I paid full price for the physical book. However, it’s a great eBook value.

Besides the free review copy, I will not receive any additional compensation from this review.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program