Who Are UX Stakeholders?

When you create a user experience for a digital product, you obviously have the needs of your target audience in mind. However, what about those people who directly influence the development and formation of your project? After all, they also play an important role in the implementation of your plans, including UX. Below, we'll talk about how to make sure that interacting with UX stakeholders benefits your project.


Who Are UX Stakeholders?

A UX stakeholder is a person who is indirectly involved but has some influence on the development of a project and, in particular, on the development of its UX. Usually, the stakeholders are executives (general directors, managers, senior employees of other departments), as well as persons who are interested in obtaining the finished product - that is, they are often the main source of funding for the development process. The first category of persons is called internal UX stakeholders (you work with them), and the second is external ones (that is, they are not employees of your company).


Why is it so important to consider the opinion of UX stakeholders?

Even though these people are not the main consumers of your product, their opinion always has some influence on how it will be as a result. Established interaction with them helps to get very useful information, especially for everything related to the user part of your digital product.

In particular, UX stakeholders can provide you with highly specialized expert data that is specific to their business niche (that is, the niche for which you create a product).

Also, getting your vision aligned with their vision for the final product will allow you to eliminate a huge amount of edits, even if your team has worked hard to create very detailed documentation ahead of time. But note: this is not a substitute for interviewing focus groups and testing the solution with members of the target audience.


How to Prioritize UX Stakeholders Through Mapping?

At this stage, you already have some basic understanding of who UX stakeholders are, but this is not enough to start putting this knowledge into practice. To get closer to your goal, you will have to map. Essentially, this is a stakeholder visualization solution that will help you understand who will be most useful for ongoing collaboration, and who can be interacted with less frequently.

You can create such a map in three simple steps (preferably with the participation of your team).

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Start with brainstorming

Start with a team brainstorming session and list all who could be UX stakeholders. Usually, this is a fairly quick process and does not take more than 5-10 minutes. First, each of the brainstorming participants independently writes down possible applicants, and then the sheets with their names are compared and grouped according to the role of the applicant in the project development. This way you will get a basic list with stakeholder names sorted by groups.


Determine the degree of importance of each of the stakeholders

Now you will need to categorize the previously created list into the four categories shown in the figure below while retaining the categorization from the previous step.

Let's get started with communication

Now you will have to move from theory to practice and begin to establish communication with the selected persons. To make this procedure as fruitful as possible, try to find out in the dialogue process why the product you work on is so important for a particular person, is there a relationship between the UX you create and the financial benefit from the final product for this person, how can you personally ensure transparency development process, etc. You should also work out possible disagreements in advance and think about how you will defend your point of view.


What to Do After UX Stakeholder Mapping?

Once you have identified the stakeholders and the importance of their participation in the work on the project, you have to extract the maximum useful information from the interaction with them. To do this, we have prepared a small guide.

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Start with an initial gathering of information about UX stakeholders

Before you meet your UX stakeholders in person, you should prepare for the conversation. To do this, you must collect general business information about your interlocutor, as well as his or her expertise, in order to be able to discuss the details of the project in a language that he or she understands. You will also have to carefully analyze the technical documentation (and in particular everything related to design) and communicate with the project manager to understand how much time and other resources you have for research.

If the project is complex enough, you may need to consult with the developers and/or system architects to explain how the project will work. You can use screen recordings to accurately recreate the process of interacting with the project at the meeting with the stakeholder.


Choose the best conversation model

You have two options for conducting a conversation: a personal interview and a seminar (collective survey). Note that sometimes it makes sense to conduct both types of conversations, and more than once.

The first option is suitable when you have enough resources for research or when some of the UX stakeholders cannot be present at the collective survey. However, you need to be prepared for the fact that after a series of interviews you will have to process a lot of information, some of which is repeated.

The second option is more time-efficient but requires more thorough preparation because, in order for your group discussion to bring good results, you will have to think through the scenario of this event and prepare the right questions.

It is also important not to exceed the maximum allowed number of workshop participants: 12 people. If there are more participants, the number of seminars will increase accordingly, so you will have to choose the optimal composition of participants for each seminar.

Formally, three types of participants can be distinguished: decision-makers, niche experts, and people who influence the project only formally. If the latter category can be present at any of the seminars, then the first two options are best distributed evenly over each of the events.

As for the topics of discussion, of course, they are unique for each project. However, there are a number of general themes that should be considered regardless of the business niche your project represents. They include the reasons for creating the product, its purpose, value to the target audience, a description of the target audience, and the environment in which the product is used.

It's critical to keep the list of questions concise, otherwise, you run the risk of getting too deep into the jungle and spending a lot of time discussing unimportant issues. In doing so, you may have to deviate from a predetermined scenario in the name of the global goal of achieving consensus and transparency among all parties.

And yes - of course, get a voice recorder or video camera so you don't waste time transcribing your event and don't lose sight of any of the details that were discussed at it.

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Analyze the results of the discussions and build a report

After the discussions, you need to analyze the information received and write a report. You will give these documents to the project designers to complete the list of specifications compiled at the initial stages of the project development.


Final Thoughts

We hope our material has helped you understand who the UX stakeholders are and how they can be useful for your project. Therefore, good luck with your UX research!

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