Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Setting Up Business Stakeholder Interviews, Part 1

Interviewing techniques for getting clear business requirements ...

"For those who build websites and applications for a living, it is important to understand the realities of how clients work in order to guide effective strategy, IA, and user research aligned with business goals. Interviewing different people who deal with a company’s website will help you simplify complex strategic directions, create appropriate research plans, develop information architecture, and design interactions for great user experiences.

Interviewing is both art and science, and it is something that any UE practitioner with a little additional time and moderation skills can employ to extract clear business requirements. Without this foundation, business requirements can be unclear and deadlines for launching new sites, features, and content can be unrealistic. Worse, companies may launch features that users do not really want. Early and effectively gathered stakeholder input is also valuable for determining directions for user research during new site and product design.

It’s not necessary to be an MBA-level strategist or have a background in user research to be an effective business stakeholder interviewer. Those with these backgrounds will find their research skills can come in handy, but some of the best stakeholder questions I’ve witnessed have been posed by visual designers and developers.

It is also important to understand how company politics can negatively impact your work. Your clients are only human, and they are as subject to company turf wars and coworker fatigue as anyone: “Oh, I guess you’ll have to speak with Bob, too…he heads up such-and-such, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing”. As an interviewer, you may find that Bob may know exactly what he’s doing and have some really great ideas. How you manage company politics can contribute to achieving—or completely unraveling—a good user experience."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]

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