It is not the only designer’s role to take care of a good user experience. The thing that is just as important is bringing UX and business goals together, striking the right balance between those two, that is a key for the project’s success.
A first step of gathering informations about the product we’re working on should always be a stakeholder interview. No matter if our client is a huge corp, young start-up or just a small business — we can always find someone that is a valuable source of informations on the client side. Informations that will be our starting point for further actions.
Step by step guide
Do a preliminary research
Before an interview you have target to know the market that the project will operate on. Gain as many informations as possible about your client (or the product), his past, goals, mission.
Do a research of similar companies on the market to see what are their advantages and — what is even more important — what are their weaknesses. If the company that you’re working on already have a live product, make sure to spend at least a few hours using it. Write down your thoughts and share them with your client during the interview. It will help you to determine your interview goals and ask the right questions.
Identify interviweesFor an interview to succeed you need… an interviewee. In most cases the choice is simple — it’s normally from 1 to 2 founders that create the product.
In bigger organisations choose up to 5 high-level employees, that represent different areas of the company, so you will have a broad spectrum of the project insights.
Remember that the interview should have a conversational nature, not checking off bullet points. It doesn’t mean though that we should be spontaneous and just let the discussion flow. Having prepared interview scenario we will be able to stay focus on our goals and get a high-quality feedback. To create such scenario you can use Talebook.io, and its embedded questions list.
Here’re some example questions:
Intro questionsAlways start an interview with a few — 3 to 5 — basic, overall questions about the person you’re interviewing. It will help you to break the ice and get to know a bit more about your client.
You can find a list of sample intro questions in “Basic” section in Talebook.
Main questionsOnce you have your goals determined and some general questions, add to each of those a couple of more specific questions that you will ask during stakeholder interview. With a help of this list you will be able to remain in control of the interview, even if the person you’ll talk to will turn out to be an enthusiast of a long and complicated stories, not necessarily related to the question asked.
Remember that your behaviour and attitude will be reflected in a quality of the feedback you will get. When you will be well prepared for an interview, it will be easier for you to stay calm and confident.
Conduct an interviewWhen you’re all set with question list and basic rules to conduct an interview, now it’s time use them in practice. Now you should ask yourself how you will collect gathered informations.
In-person interviewRecommended way of conducting interview. To keep natural flow of the conversation you can invite another person for an interview that will help you making notes. It will let you focus on an interview, having detailed notes in the same time. Just make sure to have at least a sheet of paper for yourself — in case you would like to write down your observations during the interview. You can make notes during an interview directly in Talebook. Then you will be able to share them with your collaborators and get back to them in further steps of the project work.
Summarize interviewIt’s very important that the person you interviewed will be aware of how important his/her feedback was for your product. Thank your interviewee for his/her time and assure that gathered informations will be very helpful. You can also ask for a feedback on an interview.
iPad is a better choice than notebookIf you decide to stick with making notes by yourself, choose a smaller device, like an iPad. This way, you will avoid the effect of being separated from the person you’re interviewing, and it will be easier for you to stay focused. Also, remember to switch on “do not disturb” mode to keep away any distractions.
Always let your interviewee finish his answerAs much as possible, don’t interrupt your interviewee. When it seems like they need more time to think — hold on, don’t try to guess or suggest what they’re going to say. If you have some additional questions — write them down, so you can remember to ask them later.
Ask follow-upsWhen you get an answer during the stakeholder interview, try to wrap it up quickly. But if something is not clear to you — be sure to ask about it. If you find any solutions especially exciting or valuable — mention them. It will show the other person that you’re listening intently and will make the interview more conversational.
ConclusionA stakeholder interview is just the start of a long, bumpy road of project work. Make sure you get it right from the very beginning and that your execution is organized, planned, and well documented. This is what Talebook is all about. It is designed specifically to tackle this crucial stage of the project and support your work through the whole UX process.
This article is expanded version of our first article about Stakeholder Interview.