This article will examine stakeholder interviews, why they are important for UX research, and how to conduct them effectively. We will also provide examples of stakeholder interview questions and how to incorporate stakeholder feedback into UX research.
Table of contents
What are stakeholder interviews?
Stakeholder interviews are a type of user research that describes the process of planning and conducting interviews with people that are affected by the design process of a certain project. The goal of a stakeholder interview is to gather project-relevant information and understand stakeholders vision, suggestions and expectations of a final design.
An organization’s stakeholders include executives, investors, managers, and employees with a stake in the project’s success. Listening to and incorporating their feedback can help ensure that the project remains aligned with the company’s overall strategy.
Internal vs. external stakeholder interviews
There are two types of stakeholders in UX research: internal and external.
Internal stakeholders are those directly involved in the process and outcome of a project. They often build, maintain, and improve current systems or services. Product managers, designers, developers, and customer service representatives are a few examples of internal stakeholders.
External stakeholders are those who are not directly interested in or benefiting from the outcome of a project but still indirectly influence it. Examples of external stakeholders are customers, investors, and industry experts.
The feedback of both is valuable and worth incorporating into the design process to help you make informed decisions and improve the product’s UX.
Why should you do stakeholder interviews?
In UX research, stakeholder interviews are important because they help researchers and designers better understand the needs, preferences, and expectations of those investing in the product. Insights gained from stakeholder interviews help teams make inclusive decisions and ensure the final product meets everyone’s expectations.
Stakeholders are an important part of any successful project and they are also directly involved in the decision-making processes. By conducting interviews, you can also build a strong relationship with them, resulting in more efficient collaboration and communication. Stakeholder interviews help to identify their pain points, preferences, and preferred outcomes, which will help you design a product or service that meets their needs as well as the user’s.
Overall, stakeholder interviews are a crucial part of the UX design process that allows you to gain valuable insights about stakeholders’ needs, facilitate better communication, and help you build stronger relationships.
Planning stakeholder interviews
Just like any other interview, stakeholder interviews need a solid amount of preparation to go well. This involves identifying the stakeholders you will interview, setting clear goals, preparing the structure and questions for your interview.
Here are some steps to follow when planning stakeholder interviews:
1. Define your research goals and objectives
It’s important to identify the main objectives of the research, such as understanding the stakeholders’ expectations or identifying key pain points in the existing project. By establishing these objectives, you can structure the interview questions to gather the information you need to achieve your goals.
A UX research plan can help you with this step. Check out our guide on creating a UX research plan.
2. Identify the relevant stakeholders
Make a list of internal and external stakeholders involved in the UX design and development process, such as product managers, designers, developers, marketing teams, and customer service representatives. Ensure that you include all stakeholders who can provide valuable insights into the user experience.
3. Determine the interview format
The interview format can vary depending on the number of stakeholders, their availability, and the purpose of the interview. The most common formats are one-on-one, group, and online surveys.
4. Develop interview questions
Create a list of questions to elicit detailed stakeholder responses. These questions should be designed to explore stakeholders’ thoughts and experiences regarding the user experience of your product or service, their expectations, and their potential requirements. We recommend to focus on the open-ended questions as they will allow to really get deep and insightful responses, that can help you further in the design process.
Further in this article we’ll give a couple examples of good stakeholder interview questions.
5. Schedule the interviews
Reach out to stakeholders and schedule interviews at a time that is convenient for them. Provide clear instructions on how to join the interview if it is a remote session, and ensure that you have all necessary equipment and technology ready.
6. Conduct the interviews
During the interviews, actively listen to stakeholders and note their responses. Clarify any ambiguous or unclear responses and encourage stakeholders to provide specific examples.
7. Analyze the data
After the interviews, analyze the data to identify common themes, patterns, and insights. Use this information to guide future design decisions.
Planning and preparing stakeholder interviews in the UX research process is essential to gain valuable insights into the user experience. Doing so will help to ensure your stakeholder interviews are effective and provide useful information for further design process.
How to conduct a stakeholder interview?
To make the most out of the stakeholder interviews, we recommend to take a look at some of the best practices
Eight best practices for conducting stakeholder interviews
Here are some best practices for conducting stakeholder interviews in more detail:
- Prepare thoroughly: Effective stakeholder interviews begin with thorough preparation. This includes researching the stakeholder and their background, goals, and interests. You should be prepared with relevant questions and materials to create a comfortable environment for the interview. This preparation helps ensure that you have a strong foundation for the interview and can make the most of your time with the stakeholder. Check out our easy guide for tips on creating a good research plan.
- Build rapport: Establish a positive relationship with stakeholders by building rapport. You can build rapport with stakeholders by starting with small talk, sharing your background and interests, or asking about how their day went, which will put them at ease and make the interview more productive and comfortable.
- Use open-ended questions: To help you better understand their perspective and reveal valuable insights, be sure to prepare a set of open-ended questions. They will help you get a better idea of stakeholders’ expectations of the project and allow you to gather qualitative data.
- Practice active listening: Remain fully engaged and pay attention to the stakeholder’s words. Active listening involves eye contact, nodding, and verbal cues that show you’re paying attention.
- Be flexible: Interviews with stakeholders can take unexpected turns, and it’s vital to be flexible enough to follow these turns while retaining sight of your original objectives. Be prepared to adapt your questions and approach accordingly to obtain the most valuable answers.
- Close the interview effectively: Be sure to say thank you for your time and ask if there are any final questions or thoughts. Clarify your next steps and expectations for follow-ups at the end of the interview.
- Use follow-up questions: Follow-up questions can help clarify ambiguous statements and dig deeper into stakeholder responses. You can ask for more details, examples, or explanations.
- Review the data: After completing the interviews, analyze the data carefully. This will enable you to uncover key insights and better understand stakeholders’ thoughts.
Questions for stakeholder interviews
A well-designed template or a set of questions that guide the conversation will ensure that all relevant topics are covered and provide structure to the interviewer. Here are some questions that can serve as a reference for when you’re planning your own stakeholder interviews:
- What is your role in the company/organization?
- How long have you been working in your current position?
- What is your professional background and experience in this industry?
- How does your department fit into the overall organizational structure?
- What are your primary responsibilities and tasks?
Goals and objectives
- What are the main goals and objectives of your department/organization?
- Do you face any challenges in achieving these goals?
- How do you measure the success of your department/organization?
- What are the most important metrics you use to track your progress?
- What are your priorities for the upcoming quarter/year?
The project itself
- What are your objectives for this project, and how do you see the design supporting them?
- What are your expectations for the design, in terms of visual aesthetics, functionality, and usability?
- Who is the intended audience for the design, and what are their needs and preferences?
- What are the key messages or information that need to be conveyed through the design?
- What are the potential constraints or limitations that the design must take into account?
- How will the design be used, and in what contexts or environments?
Work processes and tools
- How do you currently approach the work processes within your department?
- What tools and software do you use to support your work?
- What challenges have you experienced with these tools?
- What tools or processes would improve your work and increase efficiency?
- What processes could be automated or streamlined to save time?
- How would you describe your ideal customer/user?
- What are the biggest challenges facing your customers/users?
- What feedback or complaints have you received from customers/users?
- What are the most important features or aspects of your product/service for your customers/users?
- How do you collect feedback from your customers/users?
These are just a handful of the stakeholder interview questions you might use. It’s crucial to customize the questions when creating stakeholder interviews or question templates to the unique needs and goals of the project or research.
Incorporating stakeholder feedback into UX research
Incorporating stakeholder feedback into the UX research and design process is critical to creating a product that meets user needs and expectations. Here are some best practices for doing so:
Identify common themes and issues
Your product needs to be reviewed before any changes are made. By reviewing all feedback and identifying common themes and issues, you will better identify what needs to be addressed and guide your decisions.
You can identify the most pressing issues by analyzing interview transcripts, survey responses, or focus group notes and categorizing the feedback by themes.
Test and iterate on designs
Once you’ve identified the issues and themes, you can create design prototypes using stakeholder feedback. Test these prototypes with stakeholders and collect feedback on what worked and what didn’t. With this feedback, you can make changes and iterate on the design.
Keep testing and iterating until you have a design that meets users’ and stakeholders’ needs.
Prioritize changes based on impact
Prioritize changes based on their impact when creating the designs. Some changes may be minor, while others might have a significant impact. Prioritize changes that will address the most pressing stakeholder concerns and those that will have the biggest impact on the user experience.
Communicate changes to stakeholders
You can increase confidence and maintain stakeholder involvement by assuring them that you have received their feedback and are acting to address their issues.
To conduct effective stakeholder interviews, preparing thoroughly, using open-ended questions, practicing active listening, and being flexible is important. Follow-up questions are also essential to clarify any unclear or vague answers.
After conducting stakeholder interviews, it’s important to incorporate the feedback into the UX research and design process. This means prototyping, testing, and iterating on designs based on the feedback received to create the best possible user experience.
In conclusion, conducting stakeholder interviews is critical in the UX research and design process. By engaging with stakeholders and incorporating their feedback, you can gain valuable insights that help you create user-centered designs that meet the needs of your target audience.
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