30 episodes

The podcast where we talk with the people who lead user research in their organization.

Dollars to Donuts Steve Portigal

    • Management
    • 5.0, 43 Ratings

The podcast where we talk with the people who lead user research in their organization.

    35. Danielle Smith of Express Scripts

    35. Danielle Smith of Express Scripts

    This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Danielle Smith, the Senior Director of Experience Research & Accessibility at Express Scripts.

    Something that I’ve really changed the way I thought about since I’ve been at Express Scripts — we are in the healthcare ecosystem. So the experiences we deliver, if they are not of quality, they do have serious repercussions on people’s lives and people’s time. We are ethically bound to measure the user experience from different perspectives. Before something launches. We have prototypes or concepts or ideas, we do our due diligence in terms of user experience research, to make sure that the thing that we’re putting out on the world doesn’t just happen to people. – Danielle Smith

    Show Links



    * Artwork hung in our living room

    * Danielle on LinkedIn

    * Danielle on Twitter

    * Express Scripts

    * Net Promoter Score (NPS)

    * DeBakey High School for Health Professions

    * Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Rice

    * Human Factors and HCI at Rice

    * Human Health Factors at Johnson Space Center



    Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.



    Transcript

    Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization.

    Many years after we moved into our house, we finally hung up our art. Sure, we had hung up individual pieces, something that was already in a frame, say. But it was always piecemeal, a nail here, a hook there. And we continued to accumulate meaningful pieces from travels or family events. And we continued to occasionally pull out the box (a moving box, made for a mirror, I believe) and spread out all the various bits and pieces and just generally fantasize about having them up.

    My goal, however, was to have a plan, an intentional way of placing the different posters, prints, photos throughout our home. Every time we would try that, I would get overwhelmed and give up. I tried taking small bites: after seeing homes with big frames and medium photographs, we chose a few photographs from our travels, blew them up, ordered specially cut mat boards, and frames. We mapped out where in our living room these would go; we essentially carved off part of the home and planned the photographs that would go there. I hoped that this would simplify the challenge of where to put the remaining posters, but we found ourselves stuck, still.

    Eventually, we opened up that box and made some hard decisions about what to hang and what to set aside, and then – before too much time could go by – arranged to get everything framed. We were inching closer, but sitting with our posters and prints, all framed, we still couldn’t figure out what to hang where and so (this shouldn’t be surprising) I got overwhelmed and gave up.

    But buried in that frustration and surrender was a recognition of what skills I’m missing – an ability to reorganize visual information spatially in a few different ways, a set of starting principles for grouping, placing, and so on.

    • 55 min
    34. Amber Lindholm of Duo Security

    34. Amber Lindholm of Duo Security

    This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Amber Lindholm, the Head of User Research at Duo Security.

    That’s the sign of a really good researcher – it can never be just about research for research’s sake, like this is a cool project, this is a neat thing, I really wanna go in-depth and understand perceptions of XYZ with these people, if you don’t have that ability to understand the organizational and business contexts and the types of decisions that are having to be made every day by the rest of the folks in your organization, your research isn’t going to have an impact. – Amber Lindholm

    Show Links



    * John Mulaney Has Become the Muse of TikTok’s Makeup Artists

    * Amber on LinkedIn

    * Amber on Twitter

    * Duo Security

    * University of Illinois Graphic Design

    * Bauhaus education

    * Institute of Design

    * frog

    * projekt202

    * Atlassian

    * Stride

    * Sally Carson, Head of Product Design

    * Mark Thompson-Kolar, Design Researcher

    * Annie Diu, Research Coordinator

    * Liz Donovan, Design Research Manager

    * Dug Song, Founder

    * Jon Oberheide, Founder

    * Chester Kustarz, Head of Engineering



    Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.



    Transcript

    Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization.

    I read recently about a new genre of TikTok videos that featured people applying makeup, while lip syncing to standup comedy routines by John Mulaney. I believe that TikTok has it roots as a platform for lip-sync performances, and of course makeup tutorials and demonstrations are their own thing on the Internet. But how do we end up with the combination, and not just one but a whole series? How did this come about, why are people doing it, and are there other niche sub-genres or patterns that this relates to? Even if we are tempted to dismiss these behaviors as just a bunch of people being weird, we need to be doing the research to understand how, and why this is happening.

    Sure, people at TikTok should know how people are using their service. But insight about this also is valuable to other platforms like YouTube and Twitter and Instagram. How could this information give you a new perspective on user behaviors if you work at Dropbox? Or if you work for Michelin, either their travel department or their tire division? How could Nationwide Insurance make use of this?

    Our culture swerves and leaps and when these emergent behaviors poke their head up through into the mainstream, it’s an invitation to take note, and to be curious.

    • 59 min
    33. Julia Nelson of MOO

    33. Julia Nelson of MOO

    This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Julia Nelson, the Director Of Research at MOO.

    All researchers say to some degree that they don’t necessarily have a traditional background when they come into the research field. But I think there’s a lot of strength in welcoming people with different perspectives onto your team, so someone who used to be a designer or someone who comes from a more academic background or someone who comes from a completely different application of qualitative research, there’s an element of resilience and perspective that that lends to a team which is the sum is greater than the parts, and that’s something that is crucial to seek out on a research team. – Julia Nelson

    Show Links



    * Julia on LinkedIn

    * Julia on Twitter

    * MOO

    * Stanford d.school

    * Cambridge Judge Business School



    Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.



    Transcript

    Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization.

    Over the past few weeks many of us have spent a lot of time on Zoom, on FaceTime, or Google Hangout, or whatever, for work, for meetups, for catching up with family and friends, for celebrations and holidays, and for other newly urgent reasons. I’m not referring to relatively passive consumption of all the “new” experiences, from film festivals to talks, museums, fundraising comedy festivals, musical performances all in addition to the television and Netflix and Hulu, but rather these active conversations when you are participating, where you are seen, and heard.

    On one hand, we have turned to this alternative form because we must, we feel an imperative to connect with others, to support each other while also drawing strength from each other’s mediated glitching presence, and in the crises, this is the only way. And maybe there’s even a bit of the trend at work here, because this is just what we’re doing now.

    Perhaps you’ve heard the term Zoom fatigue, especially acute for those who are expected to follow a work schedule like the one from the before times, all online, and then find themselves using their off-work hours in the very same mode. Because it’s hard. I mean, really hard.

    It’s hard when people who can’t stop talking for hours when hanging out on a back porch find themselves staring at each other through a screen and just don’t know what to say, and don’t have a clue why that is.

    It’s hard when members of a group have different levels of familiarity with the norms the technology demands, such as knowing to mute yourself so that the video doesn’t switch over to you when you rustle papers, even though someone else is talking.

    It’s hard when convenors of our online meetings don’t know about those norms either, and don’t know the additional facilitator labor required to ensure compliance so that one person can’t accidentally stomp all over the fragile emergent communal vibe.

    And on and on.

    I went to a professional meetup that included a fascinating recap of many of the technologies over the decades that have tried to connect people remotely over video so that they can collaborate. And yet the meeting began with the familiar fumbling aloud in search of the sharing screen button, the host squinting away from the camera, at a second monitor, navigating the intricacies of the interface while we waited patiently but increasingly felt disconnected inste...

    • 56 min
    32. Chris Kovel of First Abu Dhabi Bank

    32. Chris Kovel of First Abu Dhabi Bank

    This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Chris Kovel, the Head Of Research at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB).

    I look at needs as proximate needs and ultimate needs. An ultimate need is why the product exists in the first place. And then the proximate need is the experience of using that product, right? So if you take for example, a hamburger, that’s a product and the ultimate need is the hunger that it satisfies, right? We as humans need to eat things and hamburgers are one of one of those things that we can eat. That’s the universal need that we that it solves. But then there’s also the needs of actually getting it, getting to the to the place, getting to the restaurant, then there’s the needs of having a good experience in line, being able to read the menu, being able to take it to go if I wanted to. So there’s these nested needs within the greater need of why the product exists. Both are important. But I think that product teams don’t always take both into account. – Chris Kovel

    Show Links



    * Chris on LinkedIn

    * First Abu Dhabi Bank

    * Gavin Payne, Head of Innovation LAB

    * Stanford d.school

    * John Arnold and Design Thinking

    * Lawrence Krauss

    * Medtronic

    * Jay Reader

    * Needfinding by Dev Patnaik

    * Books by David Kelley

    * Books by Tom Kelley



    Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.



    Transcript

    Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization.

    We numbered eight, a cadre of 10-year old boys, posted around the kitchen table and ancillary horizontal surfaces, awaiting the culinary culmination of this birthday party, when pop and chips would give way to the chocolate birthday cake. The flaming dessert made its appearance and we warbled “Happy Birthday” to the celebrant, mischievously goading him about his simian appearance and odor. And with that, the cake was ours – paper plates and metal forks, droplets of melted wax that we flicked off the frosting, fragments of decorative icing. So, we set to our primal task, inhaling sugar, chocolate, and oh yeah did I mention sugar?

    Noticing something about my headlong progress through my slice, my friend paused and looked up from his own cake, curiously asking me, “So…you don’t save the best for last?” This was a new concept to me and I stared blankly, crumbs leaking out the corners of my mouth. His mother pops by to affirm, “Yes, Stephen, we save the best part for last!”

    Beyond surprised, I was enlightened. Of course, some parts of the cake had more value than others. A forkful of plain ol’ cake wasn’t as good as cake and frosting which itself wasn’t as good as that mouthful of corner megafrosting. But the big news was that I had an option to eat to an end goal. I could eat differently – portioning, partitioning,

    • 1 hr 1 min
    31. Noam Segal of Wealthfront

    31. Noam Segal of Wealthfront

    This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Noam Segal, the Director of Research at Wealthfront.

    Everyone from PMs to designers, researchers, obviously, engineers, data scientists, marketing, we’re all trying to to understand our clients, we’re all taking part in that process in some way, shape or form. And so I view my role and user research’s role as an enabler, as a coach, as augmenting other efforts already happening in in the company, and really maximizing the returns we get on on the research we do. – Noam Segal

    Show Links



    * Dolores Huerta and Alice Waters on City Arts & Lectures

    * Noam on LinkedIn

    * Noam on Twitter

    * Wealthfront

    * Cultural Probe

    * Moving with a Magic Thing

    * dscout

    * Airbnb

    * Intercom



    Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.



    Transcript

    Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization.

    I just watched an interview with Alice Waters, who describes herself as a chef, author, food activist, and the owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley. She’s often referred to as the creator of California cuisine, back in the 70s. At one point in the conversation, she explained how when she meets people, she will sometimes begin by bringing out food, say fresh fruit, and taste the food together with the other person. She explained how this shared sensory experience was an alternate, and perhaps more effective way of creating a connection between people.

    It really made me think, wow, is that something we could do in user research? Could you begin an interview by sharing a sensory experience with someone? It could be taste, via food as Alice Waters did, but it could be a touch experience, a moment of smelling, a shared point of listening. I would want to understand more about what Waters believes this accomplishes and if it’s conjecture or there’s any more evidence, and I don’t really have any idea how to introduce something like this into an already hesitant dynamic, that initial moment.

    And with all (hopefully all?) research happening remotely at the moment, is there some sort of shared over distance aspect of this, a sensory experience that both parties could initiate, maybe it could be entirely pedestrian, such as feeling the glass of a mobile device, versus something celebratory like a piece of fruit selected by Alice Waters.

    I don’t know what this would lead to but I’ll be curious to hear what happens for people that try it. As well, it serves to remind me that all too often I neglect including all the senses in how I process the world and how I engage with others.

    This is another episode without either professional editor or transcriptionist. This podcast is my way to contribute at this particular moment, but I hope you can keep me and my practice in mind for collaborating on research, for coaching, for training, and other work to help advance the maturity of your organization’s research practice, wherever you’re at currently.

    Now, let’s get to my interview with Noam Segal, who is the director of research at Wealthfront.

    Noam, thanks for being on dollars to donuts.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    30. Laith Ulaby of Udemy

    30. Laith Ulaby of Udemy

    In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Laith Ullaby, the Head of Research at Udemy.

    I’m really into the idea of questioning what we do. That can be the methods and that conversation about getting out of our comfort zone. It can be thinking about our relationships with stakeholders and trying to reimagine and iterate on those. And it can be thinking about the historical trajectory of the field and the legacies that that has imbued us with. And I think that being ready to iterate and question the assumptions that a lot of those things are built on, is the thing that I’d really want folks to come away with. – Laith Ullaby

    Show Links



    * Laith on LinkedIn

    * Udemy

    * UC Berkeley School of Information

    * See One, Do One, Teach One

    * Acquisition of Fjord

    * Partners At Teehan+Lax Join Facebook

    * Facebook Acq-Hires Part Of Design Firm Bolt | Peters

    * Adaptive Path Acquired By Capital One

    * Edward Tufte

    * Understanding Your Users by Kathy Baxter, Catherine Courage, and Kelly Caine

    * Insights Association Code of Standards and Ethics

    * Advancing Research conference

    * Advancing Research community

    * Research Skills Framework



    Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.



    Transcript

    Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization.

    I had a profound moment this week. I was facilitating a meeting, not a user research setting at all. But we were having a fairly open-ended conversation. One of the people in the meeting shared some very specific advice for the rest of us, offering almost an impromptu speech or pep talk, filled with passion and encouragement. It was very inspiring. But as the facilitator, perhaps because of my work as a user researcher, I wondered if maybe that wasn’t enough. This person articulated their richly-realized state of being, and it may be easy for anyone else to dismiss it, oh, that’s just so-and-so, they’re just like that. But, we’re not born with insight about ourselves, or clarity about a new way of being, so I was curious – and I thought it would be helpful – to understand more about how this person accomplished this. How did they get here? And even though I wasn’t asking followups in this session, it seemed like an opportunity to shift my role slightly. And so I asked “How did you get to this stage, where you have this clarity in your approach?” This person paused, and said, “Well, if you really want to know” and then proceeded to share very perso...

    • 1 hr 6 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
43 Ratings

43 Ratings

shrothermel ,

Incredible Resource

I’ve been listening to Dollars to Donuts since I started my career in UXR, and it’s been hands down the best resource for me.

It’s provided inspiration and best practices and made me feel plugged into the broader research community.

Highly highly recommend to any researcher at any point in their career. You’ll learn so much.

kcinmdr ,

Learn from a leader in UXR

Steve Portigal wrote the definitive book on Interviewing Users. He continues to lead the UX Research community through his fun and educational podcast, Dollars to Donuts. There is no better resource to keep abreast of UX Research trends and strategies than this timely series of interviews with global researchers. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced researcher, you will learn something new from each episode.

EFOhio ,

A standout

Steve Portigal is a favorite of mine when learning and teaching people how to do User research. This takes it a step further; interviewing heads of research departments from Citrix to ADP to Goldman Sachs and on the flip side, Etsy. There’s no “why are we here” here, just great content.

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