Speaking about your exes on your first date. AKA: Stakeholder interview with design agencies

  • Mar 31, 2023
  • By: Ia Skhirtladze
  • 8 min read

    Intro

    Stakeholder interviews are a crucial part of the UX design process. By speaking with stakeholders, including clients, users, developers, and business owners, UX designers can gain a deep understanding of the project requirements, goals, and constraints. 

    What is a stakeholder interview? 

    If you’re looking to design products that truly resonate with users, stakeholder interviews are an indispensable tool due to the wealth of qualitative data they unearth. When UX Designers leverage stakeholder interviews with users, they forge a deeper connection to the impact of the product on the end-user, building empathy into their process.  They can also gain access to a surprising amount of insight from internal stakeholders, who have an eye into how the product’s success affects different areas of the business.  The rich insights gained from these interviews can serve as a guide in the design process, influencing decisions on everything from the product’s functionality to the overall user experience and UI design. Stakeholder interviews also provide the benefit of uncovering potential risks, obstacles, and opportunities early in the product design cycle, reducing the need for costly pivots and redesigns. By involving stakeholders in the design process from the beginning, designers can build trust, establish clear communication channels, and ensure that everyone is aligned on project goals and priorities.

     

    When should you expect to be interviewed? 

    Congratulations! You finally chose a design agency for the next phase in your product journey. You are on the call with the Sales guy discussing potential scopes, timelines, budget, introducing his team and next you hear “… and yeah, let’s do a stakeholder interview after.”

    As a UX/UI Design Agency at Slick Studio, we always try to conduct Stakeholder interviews early in the UX design process, ideally during the discovery phase. This is when the UX designer is gathering information about the project goals, requirements, and constraints.

     

    At the onset of a new project, conducting stakeholder interviews can foster a mutual understanding of the project’s objectives, scope, and timeline. These interviews can also unearth potential conflicts and roadblocks early on, allowing the UX Designer to take proactive measures to address them. This can lead to a more streamlined and productive design process, ultimately leading to a product that satisfies the users’ needs and aligns with business objectives.

    And now you find yourself thinking about this interview. How should you prepare? What do you say? What topics should you or shouldn’t speak about? 

    No worries.  Preparing for a stakeholder interview may seem daunting, but at Slick Studio, we approach it like a first date.  We simply want to get to know you better- the real you! We want to understand your goals, ambitions, and style, much like learning about your interests and preferences on a first date. We may even ask you about your previous experiences.

    In order to fully understand how we can best achieve success, the agency will delve into important areas of your product knowledge such as your target audience, your competitors, and any existing products or services you offer. To get a holistic view of how this project will affect the business, the agency may also want to interview some of your key stakeholders to understand their needs and perspective, so it’s important to invite all of those who might be most influential or be affected by the project. Preparing for these interviews and providing the agency with comprehensive information can make all the difference. The more information you can offer, the better equipped the agency will be to correctly scope the project and deliver results that go above and beyond expectations.

    Topics covered

    Usually, your design agency will provide a list of topics that will be discussed in advance. If that’s not the case, make sure you deliver this topic yourself at the meeting: 

    • Your business goals: What are your overall goals for the business? How will this project impact those goals?  
    • Target audience: Who is the target audience for this project? What are their needs, wants, and pain points? What do they expect from your product or service?
    • Competitors: Who are your main competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do you differentiate your product or service from theirs?
    • Existing products or services: Do you have any existing products or services that are similar to the one you’re creating now? What are the strengths and weaknesses of those products or services?
    • Project goals: What are your specific goals for the project? What do you classify as an achievement?
    • Timeline: What is your desired timeline for the project? Are there any specific milestones?
    • Key stakeholders: Who are they? What are their needs and perspectives? How will they be involved in the project?

    Just like a first date, the stakeholder interview is an opportunity for both sides of the project to get to know each other better and determine how to have the most successful relationship to achieve your goals.

    How do you prepare for and stakeholder interview as a UX/UI Agency? 

    As a design agency, how can you make the most out of stakeholder interviews? Next, we’ll discuss how you can come to the table ready to ask insightful questions that will set you up to have a smooth working relationship and deliver success to your client.

    Steps for a successful stakeholder interview:

    1. Define research goals: Establish what information you want to gather from the stakeholder interviews, and have a clear vision of why you need this information. This will help you to craft the best questions and get the most value out of the time. It is also helpful to share a questionnaire in advance covering all the necessary topics.
    2. Identify key stakeholders: It’s important to understand who will be influential to the process and who will be impacted by the project. Learn from your point of contact who these people are and make sure to include them in the interview process.
    3. Request relevant deliverables or artifacts: Ask the stakeholders to send any previous work that might be relevant to this project, brand books, user tests, research data, or other materials that can fill the unknown gaps and save both teams time in the interview.
    4. Prepare the logistics: Determine the arrangements for the interviews, such as the location, the format (in-person, phone, or video), and the duration of the interviews. This will help you to ensure that the interviews run smoothly.
    5. Email your interviewees beforehand: Don’t forget to send an email to the interviewees beforehand to introduce yourself, explain the purpose of the interview, and provide them with any necessary information. Provide context on all the important topics you want to discuss on the call. 

     

    Key topics to cover in stakeholder interviews: 

    History & expertise: Ask about their history and expertise with the respect to the project at hand. What problem are they trying to solve? What work have they already done? What are the learnings? What has and hasn’t worked before? What is the company stage?  

    Team & roles:  Ask questions to understand the team you’ll be working with. Who will be collaborating with you? Who is the decision maker? What is the team’s availability? This will help you to understand the team dynamics and how each team member contributes to the project.

    Competitors & inspiration: Ask about the competition and what inspires the stakeholders.  Who are their biggest competitors? Who are the direct and indirect competitors? What do the stakeholders like and dislike about their competitors? How do they differentiate themselves from competitors?  

    Risks & Dependencies: Ask what they know about potential risks and expected dependencies. What risks have been identified, and what impact will they have? Which risks are most important to prepare for? What would have to happen for these risks to occur? These answers will help you to identify potential roadblocks and plan for contingencies.

    Development: Ask about the development process for the project. What are their Targeting Devices and operating systems, and tech stack?  Have they chosen Design Systems/ libraries that they are using?

    Users: Ask about the user segments for the project. Who are they? Is there any relevant demographic information? What feedback have they received from users? This will help you to understand the users’ needs and perspectives.

    Professional boundaries: It’s important to set professional boundaries during the partnership. How do they prefer to communicate? How do you prefer them to give you feedback?

    Space for other topics: You can’t always cover all the topics with a prepared questionnaire in advance. Always leave space for that and don’t forget to ask them if there is anything else they’d like to discuss.

    Summary

    Overall, stakeholder interviews are an essential part of UX design and should be conducted with care and attention to detail. By listening carefully to stakeholders, designers can create products that meet user needs, achieve business objectives, and deliver a seamless, intuitive user experience.

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