SXSW Interactive 2015

Epic FAIL: Takeways from the War Stories Project


After nearly two years in gathering War Stories about the unusual, comic, tragic and otherwise astonishing things that happen in fieldwork, Portigal Consulting has amassed a compelling archive about the user research experience. While it’s common for the members of any group to share stories of their adventures, the user research community hasn’t supported this well. For a practice that feels misunderstood by others, there’s pressure to only share successes. Yet the confidence to share the honest and human messiness of this work can help develop the skill and even prestige of the community.

In this presentation, Steve will review some of the stories collected, highlight some of the patterns revealed by the stories, and suggest some of the lessons that we can take away.

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  1. What kind of things can go wrong when experienced researchers go out into the world and talk with users?
  2. How does a community of practice benefit from sharing stories?
  3. How are failure stories an especially valuable tool in building a practice?
  4. How can we prevent failures from ever happening again?
  5. What can I learn about my own skills and practice from seeing how other people (ahem) screw up?



Steve Portigal, Principal , Portigal Consulting

Meta Information:

  • Tags: learning
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Design and Development
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate

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