A vital first step to any UX, Design, or Strategy initiative following the Human-Centered Design philosophy is to conduct stakeholder interviews – as many stakeholder interviews as possible. It may seem like a tedious and time-consuming task, especially if you are up against a tight deadline, but the amount of insight, alignment, and guidance you gain makes up for that time ten-fold when you’re ready to dive into concepts. A stakeholder interview is key to learning about your client and more importantly, your end user.
You’re probably asking how you end up learning about your end user by talking to the CEO. And the answer is, you probably won’t! You learn about the end user by collectively interviewing all stakeholders that touch the brand anywhere within your project life cycle. This includes people like Directors, Product Managers, Engineers, Human Resources, Marketing team members, and Technologists.
TIP: Make sure to find the people within the organization that are closest to the users (the associates on the floor, on the phones, or out in the field), and include them as well.
If your interviews span across enough roles, you will be able to paint a well-rounded picture of who you need to be speaking to and in which way. You’ll also be making stakeholders part owners in the creative process. By getting everyone invested and on the same page, you are inherently assisting in bringing that feature or product to fruition. A stakeholder interview is essential in gaining that.
Although your interview questions will vary from role to role and product to project, we’ve provided an outline below to start with for a basic website redesign and marketing strategy project.
We tend to jump on a Zoom video call to conduct a stakeholder interview whenever it’s not possible to meet in person (this also allows us to record them for future reference). But if you’re interviewing your stakeholders in person, we also recommend recording that session. You’ll always want to refer to your original source and notes when you begin developing material for your campaign. It helps keep everyone aligned with the brand’s vision and mission.
TIP: Before conducting your stakeholder interview, do your research. Research the brand and all its digital and social properties. Inject personal questions unique to them throughout these more general ones below.
Individual Intros & Content Details
What is the primary function of your role and department?
Who are all the different audiences you communicate with?
Who is your primary audience? Who is your secondary audience? Please provide details on demographics, job functions & responsibilities, industry verticals and attitudes, interests & concerns, behavior, etc.
What are you trying to communicate for your brand? How do you want to be perceived? Do you think your organization’s current digital presence addresses this?
What are some of your daily work challenges? What would you like to see more and less of?
What are some challenges you think your organization’s end users face?
How do you prefer to consume content? How do your audiences?
Can you tell us something interesting, unique, or surprising you’ve learned about the people who interact with your brand?
Brand & Business Goals
What is the current objective of your site? Is this the same for the redesign? Has the objective evolved or grown over time?
What role(s) does it play in your user’s journey?
What adjectives would you use to describe your desired new digital brand style?
What are some top goals you have for your brand? How does the website play a role in achieving them?
How does your organization view their digital footprint? Do you feel that you currently have a passive or active digital footprint?
Does your current Mission and Vision still represent accurately the organization? Find their Mission statement and state it. You’ll be surprised to find (especially in larger organizations) that some people might not even know what their mission statement is.
Can you talk about what [insert key brand value you found from your research] means to you and how it fits into your overall business objectives, marketing, etc.?
How would you define success when it comes to your website?
Where do you see the brand in 5 years? 10 years?
Competition, Demographics & Inspiration
Who do you feel are your largest competitors?
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Who is your current user demographic? Please define all unique personas (age, avg. income, other sites you think they may visit, male/female, location, job function + seniority, industry, etc.) Why do you think these people attracted to your brand?
Are these users the same as your target users? Are there any groups you want to go after specifically?
Are there any brands today that you look to for inspiration?
Marketing, Social & Community
What does your “marketing today” look like?
What’s your marketing focus/goal? For example, are you focused on…Increasing awareness/reach? Generating leads? Driving product sales? Growing your community & brand loyalty?
What are some marketing initiatives that you’ve activated this year?
What channels are you currently leveraging the most (i.e., trade shows, digital media, traditional marketing, social)
What are some marketing challenges that you have faced or currently face?
Do you have a specific geographical focus for next year, for example, are you looking to increase local awareness or are you trying to grow a global community?
What channels are you not currently active in, but wish you were?
What does your current social strategy look like?
Describe what “community” means to you.
How important is it for you?
Would you describe your community as active or passive? What’s the overall sentiment? What do they typically talk about? What’s their favorite form of communication (wall posts, direct message)?
How active are you in responding to the community? Do you feel bogged down with questions?
What do you wish you were doing more of? Are you happy with your current channels? Are there any channels that you’re not on, but are interested in learning more about?
What are some challenges you face with social media (i.e., content creation, copy, etc.)?
Describe your current content strategy — what areas are you excelling in? What are some pain points we can help you with? What does your content planning process look like?
Do you currently use any social media tools? If yes, which ones? If no, are you interested in learning about what tools are available?
Have you dabbled in paid social? Are you interested in learning more?
No matter how tempted or pressed for time you are, don’t skip this part of the design process. Whatever your method, this is the first step in setting you and your team up for success. Best of all, stakeholder interviews are cheap and low-tech. If you approach each one as a conversation with curiosity and interest, you will find that the amount of insight people are willing to share is invaluable.