Absorbing a stakeholder’s expertise and teasing out their expectations is one of the best UX Research methods to kick off any project.
Not only does it fast-track your learning curve, but it gives you the opportunity to form valuable relationships with people who can make or break your project. (It’s also the best way to tame a difficult stakeholder.)
In this article, I’ll share a quick reference cheat sheet to help you plan a successful stakeholder interview.
Cheat Sheet of Stakeholder Interview Questions for UX Designers
Before we jump in and look at the specific questions, let’s first look at what it is that we want to learn from stakeholder interviews.
What are our UX Research objectives? This helps us to keep our interviews structured and productive.
Here are some research objectives that stakeholder interviews can help us achieve:
- Understand the purpose, history, and context of the project.
- Understand any constraints imposed by the business strategy.
- Understand the stakeholder’s role.
- Understand the stakeholder’s vision and goals.
- Understand how they’ll measure success.
- Understand their challenges, fears, and frustrations.
- Understand their subject matter expertise.
- Understand the stakeholder’s expectations.
- Find out how they want to be involved.
In order to ask the right questions, you’ll need to think about which of these objectives is most meaningful to you, then structure your UX stakeholder interviews accordingly. Some of the objectives might relate more to specific stakeholders than others, so have a think about who you’re interviewing and what information they’re best placed to provide.
With those objectives in mind, here’s a list of potential interview questions:
Project Goals and Purpose:
- What is the business goal for this project?
- What are your goals for this project?
- What is the primary purpose of this project?
- What challenges do you hope to address with this project?
- What would success look like for this project, in your opinion?
- How do you define “success” when it comes to this project, and what metrics will you use to measure it?
- Beyond achieving a successful outcome, what other goals do you hope to accomplish through this project?
- What motivates you to pursue this project?
- What results do you hope to see from this project?
- How will the success of this project benefit the business?
UX Design and User Feedback:
- How do you see UX design contributing to the success of this project?
- Who are your key stakeholders in this project, and what role do they play?
- What kind of feedback have you received from users or customers so far?
- Do you have any existing data that we can use as a starting point for our user research?
- Are you aware of any user research findings that already exist on user needs?
- What frustrations have stakeholders expressed about the current product/solution?
- What problems does the current product/solution cause for stakeholders or users?
- What are the areas that you think need improvement?
- Are there any aspects of the current product/solution that aren’t working as expected or should be done differently?
- What aspects of UX design do you believe are essential for this project’s success?
- Are there any areas where you have specific expectations about the design process and output?
- On a personal level, what are your expectations for how this project could improve user experiences or solve customer problems?
Performance Metrics and Reporting:
- What key performance indicators (KPIs) do you think should be used to measure the success of this project?
- Are there any KPIs that are particularly important or relevant to this project?
- How will you track and report on these KPIs?
- What kind of reporting would be most useful for decision-making purposes?
- Who are your main competitors, and how does your product/solution compare to theirs?
- What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ products/solutions?
Constraints and Resources:
- Are there any budget or resource constraints that we need to be aware of when designing this product/solution?
- What is the timeline for this project, and are there any key milestones that we need to keep in mind?
- Is there a project management timeline of activities and deliverables that I should be aware of?
User and Customer Needs:
- What are the biggest pain points or challenges faced by our users/customers that you’re already aware of?
- Are there any unmet needs or opportunities for improvement that you’ve observed or heard about?
- How do you prioritize user/customer needs when making product decisions?
Organizational Structure and Culture:
- How is your organization structured, and how does that impact decision-making related to product design and development?
- What is your organization’s culture like, and how does that impact the way you approach product development?
- Are there any plans for expanding or evolving this product/solution in the future?
- How do you envision this product/solution fitting into your long-term business strategy?
These questions should help you get the most out of stakeholder interviews, giving you a better understanding of their expectations and needs so that you can make informed decisions about how to design a successful product or service. Choose the interview question that aligns most with your research objectives and that will best inform your design decisions and UX Strategy.
What are Stakeholder Interviews?
Stakeholder interviews in UX design are a research method used to gather information from individuals or groups who have a vested interest in the design project, such as clients, users, project managers, developers, or other stakeholders.
The purpose of stakeholder interviews is to gain a deeper understanding of the needs, goals, and requirements of the stakeholders, and to identify potential design challenges and opportunities. This information can then be used to inform the design process and create a product or service that meets the needs of all stakeholders.
During stakeholder interviews, UX designers typically ask open-ended questions to encourage stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions.
These questions might include topics like:
- What are your goals for this project?
- What are your expectations for the user experience?
- Who are the target users for this product/service?
- What are the key features or functionalities you would like to see included?
- What are the main pain points or challenges you currently face in your work?
- What do you see as the biggest opportunities for innovation in this area?
By gathering insights from stakeholders through interviews, UX designers can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the needs and expectations of all parties involved in a project. This can help ensure that the final product or service meets the needs of both the users and the business.
Preparing for Stakeholder Interviews
Some stakeholders are notoriously difficult to pin down, their calendars are packed, and their schedules change on the fly throughout the day.
Not only that but if you don’t get the input you need from them at the right time. Then you risk having them derail your project later when things don’t align with their expectations.
That’s why it’s important to prepare as best you can to make the most of your sessions.
Here are some top tips for preparing for a stakeholder interview:
Define the research objectives: Before conducting stakeholder interviews, it is important to clarify the goals and objectives of the research. What questions do you want to answer? What are the key design challenges you need to address? Understanding the research objectives will help you identify the right stakeholders to interview and ask relevant questions.
Identify stakeholders: The next step is to identify the stakeholders who will be involved in the project. Stakeholders can include clients, users, project managers, developers, marketers, and any other individuals or groups who have an interest in the project’s success. You can use a variety of methods to identify stakeholders, such as reviewing project documentation, conducting a stakeholder analysis, or speaking with project sponsors.
Prioritize stakeholders: Once you have identified the stakeholders, prioritize them based on their level of involvement in the project and their level of influence over the final product or service. This will help you determine who to interview first and how much time to allocate to each stakeholder.
Develop interview questions: Develop a list of open-ended interview questions that will help you gather the information you need from each stakeholder. Consider the research objectives and the stakeholders’ roles in the project when developing your questions.
Schedule interviews: Once you have developed your questions, schedule the interviews with each stakeholder. Be sure to provide them with enough notice and allow for sufficient time to conduct a thorough interview.
Conduct the interviews: During the interviews, ask open-ended questions and actively listen to the stakeholders’ responses. Take notes and ask follow-up questions as needed to clarify any information.
Analyze the data: After the interviews are complete, analyze the data to identify common themes and patterns. Use this information to inform the design process and create a product or service that meets the needs of all stakeholders.
By preparing well and following a structured process, you can get important insights quickly and set your project up for success.
Tips for Conducting Effective Stakeholder Interviews
During the interviews, it’s important to not only get the answers to your research questions but to build a relationship with your stakeholder and develop empathy for them as you would in a user interview.
Here are some tips to help you get the most from your sessions:
Prepare thoroughly: Take the time to prepare thoroughly for the stakeholder interviews. This includes defining your research objectives, developing your interview questions, and identifying the right stakeholders to interview.
Be flexible: Be flexible in your approach to stakeholder interviews. While it’s important to have a structured set of questions to ask, be willing to adjust your approach and ask follow-up questions to gather more information.
Listen actively: Listen actively to the stakeholders’ responses and be open to their perspectives. Encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions freely and avoid interrupting or leading them toward a particular response.
Use open-ended questions: Use open-ended questions to encourage stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions in their own words. Avoid leading or closed-ended questions that could bias the responses.
Record the interviews: Record the interviews if possible, either through audio or video recording. This will allow you to review the responses in detail and ensure that you capture all relevant information.
Follow up: Follow up with stakeholders after the interviews to clarify any information and ensure that you have understood their needs and goals correctly.
Maintain confidentiality: Maintain confidentiality during the interview process, especially if the stakeholders are sharing sensitive information. Be clear about how you will use the information gathered and ensure that it is handled appropriately.
Stakeholder interviews can easily be cut short or interrupted if you’re interviewing particularly busy and in-demand people. They’ll also likely have a lot of strong opinions and preconceived ideas about what direction you should be heading.
Try to stay open-minded and absorb the information before you respond because it’s likely that you’ll meet other stakeholders that have strong opposing opinions, and you don’t want to sign yourself up for promises you can’t keep.
- Stakeholder interviews are a crucial part of the UX design process, involving UX designers or researchers interviewing stakeholders to gain valuable insight into the project’s goals, challenges, and user needs.
- The right questions, are crucial to get a shared understanding with different stakeholders, from internal stakeholders to key stakeholders like project managers and product designers.
- Conducting a successful stakeholder interview involves creating an interview guide, asking UX interview questions and research questions, and navigating difficult stakeholders.
- The research findings from the stakeholder interviews help inform UX strategy and design decisions for the product discovery and design project.
- Stakeholder interviews provide valuable insight for hiring managers and UX experts alike in project management and the UX process.
- Stakeholder interviews are one of the first tools a UX Designer uses during the product discovery phase of the UX Process. Interviewing different stakeholders at the start of a project gives valuable insight that can help to shape design decisions and the UX Strategy further down the line.
- Figuring out who your key stakeholder is and including them in your stakeholder research project is the best way to create a shared understanding and set yourself up for success.
- Before you write your interview guide and select or UX interview questions, first define your research objectives. This way you can stay focused and on track.