A focused, detailed, and concise stakeholder interview is the key to getting started to foster commitment and gather knowledge about the website design project. It helps to make the right decisions, avoid end moment disappointments, and changes to create the right product. As also explained in The Process of Redesign—Part 1 the designer's sole part here is to ask the right questions, listen, learn, adapt, and understand the stakeholder's point of view.
It's the easiest way to avoid future shortcomings, miscommunications, creative blocks, and endless cycles of revisions. The stakeholder's interview helps to create an understanding based on the needs, demands, vision, goals of the clients while validating the project's stakes with the right objectives and knowledge. This process certainly makes the rest of the design project smooth from the organizational point of view.
The right question is the way to reach the right solution.
So, what are those right questions? Should the questions be scripted or keep the conversation natural?
A scripted set of well-crafted questions keeps the communication smooth and the process of stakeholder interview concrete and should be prepared ahead of the meeting.
So, now that we understand the importance of stakeholder interviews. let's begin with the 10 crucial questions while also validating the reasons behind them.
1. What are the goals, values, and vision of your company?
The information that comes from asking the goals, values, and vision is extremely important and serves the whole project. They help to understand the stakeholder's priorities and are an effective way to gather insights about the business. Some of this information becomes part of the landing page and adds to the very crucial information of the 'About us' page of the website. Take interest to ask these questions separately or together but make sure to record or take proper notes of the information that the stakeholders have to provide.
2. What are your growth metrics for the next 1, 5, and 10 years?
Business goals of the future need work from the beginning of the project. Are the stakeholders looking at brand awareness? or they want to generate revenue through specific ways. They could be looking for more investors or trying to enable the value of their orders. Listen as they speak, before jumping to conclusions or the next question. A good design solution comes out when you have measurable growth insights in your hands.
3. What problem does your product solve and how commercially viable is it?
Understand the product they are selling, this is their core. How is the product made? or it a service that they are selling? Frame your questions accordingly and get a deeper knowledge of the entire journey. Ask them why do they believe in this product and why would users take an interest in it? This part of the stakeholder's interview gets deeper depending on the nature of their product.
4. What are your USPs (unique selling points)?
Make a list here of all the features of their product or service. Ask the stakeholders about the unique selling points and benefits of each. This helps you as a designer to believe in their business and the purpose of the business. Ask them why are their USPs different from other similar businesses? Ask if these USP's meet the needs of users and keep it short, clear, and concise.
5. Who are your users? What are you trying to help them achieve?
Users are important throughout the project. The initial phase of this user's research is to gather information about the stakeholder's understanding of the user's needs. What problem are they trying to solve for the users? How is their product or service will add value to the user's life? What will be the user's experience while using their product or service? These are all important aspects of the initial questions about understanding the users from the stakeholder's perspective and research. These are all important aspects of the initial questions about understanding the users from the stakeholder's perspective and research.
6. Who are your competitors? What do you like about them?
Consider the fact, most ideas are taken or already exist. Its how they are done makes the most of the difference. Understanding the competitors also helps to understand the business norms and its positive aspects. What is it that the user's like about their competitors and how do your stakeholder's product, service, and offerings differ from the rest of them?
7. What is the research that has already been done?
Research is crucial to the design process. It's what you begin with and use the same information to drive the project. Details of research done from the stakeholder's side help to understand their methods and gain initial insights about the business. Ask about the values, reasons, and discovery of their research. It's a designer's chance of learning, listening, discovering, and documenting the research knowledge.
8. Are there any design constraints? If yes, what are they?
With the vision, goals, and growth also come choices. Be upfront about these questions and do take them into consideration while making decisions during the design process. Let the stakeholder explain how they desire their website to speak to the users while also understanding their design flexibility.
9. Are there any technology constraints? If yes, what are they?
Is this even important? Doesn't everyone want the best for their website? Oh yes, they do but it's important to understand limitations and the possibilities. The stakeholders may have specific technology needs and it's good to know these at the initial stage of the design process.
10. What are the deadlines for the project? What is the process of approval for design and who will be approving them?
Ask the dates! Get details about the timeline. It's all right to give your projections later but it's important to know the stakeholder's expectations and be transparent about deadlines. It's also equally important to know the process of design approval and the people you will have to constantly be in touch with during the website design project.
The right questions asked during the stakeholder interview create clarity and constructive work relationships. These questions are crucial but are subjective to changes and can be framed according to the project. They also evolve as the stakeholder's reply. Ask more Why! and listen carefully throughout the process and avoid coming to any conclusions yet... This process creates a connection with the brand, website, and design. The information that is collected is not supposed to use as is. A designer can differentiate and create designs that are functional, effective, and workable for the users and the stakeholders. Most importantly do what design does — Solve problems.