How to Build Robust User-Research Practices with Steve Portigal

How to Build Robust User-Research Practices with Steve Portigal
Daniel Elizalde

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Episode Details – How to Build Robust User-Research Practices with Steve Portigal

Understanding user’s needs continue to be one of the top challenges for enterprise and industrial product leaders. And although the practice of user-research has been around for a while, most of the information out there seems to focus on B2C products. This is why I’m very excited to be joined by Steve Portigal joining us on the show today!

Today, my guest is Steve Portigal, an experienced user-researcher, author, and consultant who helps organizations build more mature user research practices.

In our conversation, Steve shares how he approaches B2B research. We discuss the complexities of doing user research in a B2B context, the challenges of getting access to users, the need to understand customers’ pain (as opposed to only focusing on usability), and how to influence your organization to conduct more research. Steve also shares his advice on how to build a practice that encourages ongoing user research.

This is a critical episode that no product leader should miss!

About Steve Portigal

Steve Portigal is a consultant who helps organizations to build more mature user research practices. Over the past 20 years, he has interviewed hundreds of people, including families eating breakfast, hotel maintenance staff, architects, radiologists, home-automation enthusiasts, credit-default swap traders, and rock musicians.

His work has informed the development of mobile devices, medical information systems, music gear, wine packaging, financial services, corporate intranets, videoconferencing systems, and music accessories.

Steve is the author of two books, Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights and Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories. Additionally, he is the host of the podcast, Dollars to Donuts.

Topics We Discuss in this Episode

  • Steve’s career background and the work he does today as an experienced user researcher
  • What a user researcher does and why it is important
  • Invaluable tips for user researchers
  • Why companies struggle to understand their customers’ challenges
  • How a company can become more user-centered
  • How to enable a culture that empowers everyone
  • Why you may want to bring on a user researcher or an external expert
  • The nuances of being a team player and contributing to the success of the company
  • How to challenge baseline assumptions to move forward and grow as a company
  • The differences between B2C and B2B user research
  • The challenges of user research (and how to overcome them)
  • Why user research is not only incredibly invaluable but needs to be figured out for your company
  • Why culture is critical to research
  • How to support leaders in helping transform the organization’s mindset into a customer-centric culture
  • Proactive vs. reactive research

Product Leader Tip of the Week

  • Keep in mind user-research is a skill. You can read about it, take classes, listen to podcasts, but you also have to practice.
  • Practice can include: knowing when to do research, knowing what research to do, how to go about actually doing the research, learning how to leverage the research that you’ve done, and learning how to help others understand the research.
  • And be sure to give yourself the chance to get better. All of this takes time. Be compassionate and understand that research is not just binary; there are many, many facets of it.

To Learn More About Steve Portigal

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1 Comment


  1. […] Thanks to Daniel Elizalde for having me on the Enterprise Product Leadership podcast to talk about user research, especially in enterprise and industrial organizations. The audio (51 min) is embedded above, and available on the episode page. […]

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