How to Collaborate with Stakeholders in UX Research

How to Collaborate with Stakeholders in UX Research
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Research on product and service usage reveals consumer behaviors to executives, managers, customer support agents, marketers, designers, and developers. The biggest stake in the success or failure of your UX research will be defined by the response of your target audience, aka “Users”. Now project design or company culture can correspond in so many different ways with different people in different settings that it almost feels impossible to figure a definitive right answer. We need to consider design research as a group activity. Similar to the way in which all players of a sports team are essential to the team's success, it needs teamwork to identify practical solutions based on consumer problems.

Before commencing user research, you should identify the important people who will have a say in the outcome of your design project. If you are a freelance designer working for an organization, your point person will be crucial in directing you to the people who need to be involved in the project from the start. The UX Researcher can function as the project's leader while the rest of the team members take notes and analyze trends. Stakeholders for your UX research can be categorized into 3 groups.

Business Stakeholders

Executives, product managers, marketers, and salespeople in positions of responsibility, both internal and external to the organization, are examples of business stakeholders. They can aid you in ensuring that your research is relevant to your company's current objectives. Senior management support is crucial for obtaining funding for your research and making any design changes that may be required as a result of your findings.

Engineering stakeholders

Developers, QA specialists, and service professionals are part of the engineering community and can give light on emerging technologies' promises and limitations. Any design changes that result from your research will also need to be incorporated by the development team.

UX stakeholders

Designers, researchers, and technical writers involved in the project are all considered UX stakeholders because they all contribute to the establishment of the user guidelines. They are the ones who must be informed about the results of your research and must approve the design direction you choose. Consult with UX stakeholders to acquire a better understanding of the project and new insights on the user experience.

Collaborating on the User Experience Benefits Everyone

Involving key stakeholders in research and design helps make the entire process so much more efficient and productive as it elevates UX efforts and re-centers the team's attention on the end-users. When a better user experience is the endgame, involving your stakeholders is essential for unhindered flow of collaborative efforts. It not only perks up the ability to empathize with end-users but also minimizes the risk of miscommunication which is crucial for success in the workplace. In times of stagnant creativity, it might also be helpful to have an audience hear your UX ideas. Consistent consideration for user experience can improve nearly every aspect of a UX research, but this is only true if the other stakeholders are aware of the plans, patterns and progress.

A research conducted at University of Lisbon used an online survey, a contextual inquiry, and a diary study with 107 developers and designers to find out what makes efficient development cycles work. The survey results show that developers and designers are happier with the wider teamwork, but they want to work closely with designers and have more access to them. Although designers are worried about the quality of the wider teamwork, stakeholder participation in UX research is crucial since it ensures that those involved in the project are aware of its progress and may offer feedback and suggestions as needed.

Stakeholders should be consulted early on to assist in identifying the study objectives and ensure they are aligned with the problem at hand. Keep them in the loop so that they can stay up to date with developments and offer insight and straighten expectations as necessary. This helps guarantee that the research effort will hold useful findings that can be used to create the best possible designs and utilize your entire team’s full potential for greatness.

Motivating Stakeholders to Participate in Research and Design

Even if you have some of the best ideas in the world, they won't help you much if you can't tell other people about them. Consult with the people you need to back your project early in the process to ensure that the research you gather is as appropriate to their needs as possible. If you're working for a small business or a start-up, involving stakeholders may be a straightforward procedure that doesn't need a lot of formalization. You may be able to skip over some of the steps mentioned but involving stakeholders can be a real challenge when working on a huge project for a large company.

Let us provide some easy guidelines that will detail the precise actions you can take depending on your specific needs and requirements.

Step 1: Set parameters

As UX researchers, it is our responsibility to have an exhaustive understanding of the requirements of our users. Users are always the first priority and at the same time, our company's stakeholders and product teams are also customers; more specifically, they are users of the findings of the research. As a consequence of this, it is essential to comprehend their prerequisites, objectives, and anticipations. So, it is of utmost importance to set clear and definitive parameters to prioritize the requirements and expectations.

Educate everyone about the benefits of participation in UX research

It is imperative that each and every person in your team understands the importance and benefits that come with participating in user experience research. Leaders must be made aware of the value that stakeholders can add to a project so everyone’s on the same page.

Make participation easy

Plan important user experience activities like customer site visits, usability testing, and participatory design sessions at the appropriate time in the development cycle, and make sure to schedule it aligning with the accessibility of the key user experience stakeholders. It's a good idea to invite everyone by name and stress how important they are to the success of the mission.

Make time and space for collaboration

Design clinics and UX office hours should be held often! The best way to learn from and contribute to a team is to keep the lines of communication open at all times. Everyone should feel welcome to consult the leaders for user-research findings and design recommendations, regardless of their position.  You can facilitate team members' access to UX R&D personnel and data by setting up a physical meeting place.

Attend as in Immerse the team deeply in the research process

Observing user research would be great for the creative boast as well as decent encouragement for the team’s morale. The tasks that follow will assist the group in becoming fully immersed in the study process. By asking questions, taking notes, and summarizing what they learn during the session, stakeholders can assist UX researchers. It is possible for UX researchers to use a voice recorder to record a field visit so that many stakeholders who were unable to attend can see it afterwards, or they may be able to stream the visit live in an observation room.

Step 2: Prioritize objectives

When you know what success looks like from the perspective of your business's stakeholders, you can better envision how to use your research to assist them achieve that success. Furthermore, having a deeper awareness of the business landscape allows you to better understand your stakeholders. If you speak the business language, people are more likely to be persuaded by what you have to say about their professional aspirations and the criteria by which they judge their level of achievement. It is important to have clear cut goals to maximize collaborative and innovative potential.

· Align your research goals with your stakeholders’ goals

This phase is generally communicated through research goals, objectives, research questions, and/or hypotheses. Here are the things that can be done to make the kick-off session more effective: Identify the current difficulties and problems as a group with designers, researchers and stakeholders to clarify the potential objectives and research questions for a project. And then remember to prioritize the goals, objections and solutions.

· Make UX deliverable useful for other processes within the organization

Help existing business processes accommodate UX deliverables. Make design patterns that can be used again and update style guides to solve problems that keep coming up. Make usability test cases that reflect the main goals of the design. Use story-mapping and project-management tools to add user tasks and UX tasks to developer tools, stories, and tasks. Without the right user stories, the product backlog won't be complete.

· Create accessible user-testing deliverables that reflect your audience’s interests and technical understanding

Make certain that the results of your user testing are easily comprehensible by your target audience in terms of both their interests and technical expertise. Pay attention to your user experience (UX) research and development insights as much as possible. Instead of writing a separate spec, add notes to prototypes and designs that are more conclusive. Rather than simply discussing them, demonstrate how users engage with work.

· Summarize the Analysis for non-researchers

Discuss compelling narratives, explain potential risk, and display visually appealing statistics to keep up the interest and morale. Keep track of any problems and metrics relating to the user experience. After the fieldwork begins, the collaborative analysis should be carried out. Typically, this can be done in 3 ways:

o Summary at the end of each session → done after every session is completed

o Summary at the end of the day → done while data collection is still running

o Summary at the end of the study → done after data collection is completed

Step 3: Build trust

We all say as UX researchers that we want a say in how things are produced. The book Influence contains two notions that can help us develop trust with our teams: authority and liking. People are drawn to folks they know well or who share similar ideas. If you want people to trust you as a UX researcher, you must be perceived as a member of the team. Simultaneously, people are more likely to do what you say if they believe you have more influence. So, if you want your colleagues to believe what you say, you must establish yourself as a credible authority. Some suggestions for improving the efficiency of the first meeting: Recognize the challenges and issues at hand as a team.

· Demonstrate utility with small pilot projects

Begin with initiatives that are simple, manageable, and meaningful, such as asking users for their opinions and concerns while also sharing user insights and data. Small pilot projects with user approval can set the pace and direction for your team. Keep it simple! Use a lightweight approach, such as a shared document with bulleted lists and screenshots, to communicate your results to your immediate team as soon as you can. Explain the key lessons and how they apply to the intended audience.

· Evangelize UX research

Demonstrate the value of UX research in mitigating danger and meeting customer needs. You need to dispel the myth that quality assurance is a waste of time. Make it clear that you can help developers save time by assisting with research, design, and validation at the earliest possible stages. Spread the word about how in-depth user experience design really has to be and what you can do. Having UX professionals talk about their experience, methodology, and results is a great way to illustrate UX ideas and terminology.

· Increase the visibility for UX-research and design artifacts

Learning the worth of user experience (UX) research and design artefacts like personas, journey maps, high-fidelity prototypes, and task flows is crucial for influencing stakeholders and maintaining their interests. Place these in highly trafficked areas and create a digital project space where distant team members may access digital UX artefacts and data. Focus on one thing at a time but remember to keep your eyes on the prize.

Conclusion

Stakeholders are key elements of your project and keeping them in the loops can be beneficial for the efficiency of your work and the stakes of project success. Make it routine and customize with times and needs. When findings from user research are shared with a team, it not only enhances morale but also leads to ideas and implementations that are more user-friendly.