When undertaking conversion optimisation with a company, it’s the duty of the consultant to get under the bonnet of the company as much as possible. I discuss this in my UX and Conversion Optimisation approaches. Part of understanding the company is to understand the people within the company; after all, “people are definitely the company’s greatest asset” (Mary Kay Ash). This is where stakeholder interviews come into play and why they are so necessary.
By stakeholders, we deem this as anyone with an interest in the business. From the CFO to the cleaner and the customers to the suppliers; they all have interest within the business.
Stakeholder interviews come in different forms and they are contextually dependant on the environment, the research objectives and the stakeholder themselves. Boxes and Arrows have a good set of example stakeholder interview questions. UX Matters also published a good set of rules and considerations when conducting successful interviews with stakeholders, although it is from 2007.
Ultimately, there’s no way we can go through best practice for interviews in such a short space of time; it’s an extremely difficult skill to master. However, when I undertake stakeholder interviews there are some principles I am guided by below:
- Define your research objectives first and foremost. The interview with the stakeholder requires both structure and guidance. What do you want out of the interview? This is probably dependant on the person you are interviewing but there will be multiple research objectives for multiple stakeholders.
- Time it. It’s quite easy to have a stakeholder interview for 3 hours plus – but will this really get us the salient information that we require? Probably, but in excess. There is a curved limit to what we can accept and generally recommend a time limit of 45 minutes to an hour.
- Don’t just focus on the present, focus on the past (“what did you think”) and the future (“what do you think will”). This will help give an understanding of where the business is going and where it’s come from.
- Don’t just focus on the single entity, look at the entire market. By this, I mean both the industry and the competitors within it.
- Allow for tangents. Paul Boag discusses this in more detail in “How to improve your site using stakeholder interviews” but I like his mention on tangents, to which I fully agree, allowing the conversion to evolve naturally despite your agenda items.
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If you’d like to learn more about a structured UX approach I’m more than happy to discuss this with you and your requirements. I’m certain with my track record in using this approach I can facilitate in a proven methodology that will get the best out of your team and the most efficient user-centric solution for your client.