UX Design: Negotiating with Stakeholders without Compromising the Data

Negotiating with Stakeholders without Compromising the Data

UX researchers need to be flexible and quickly adapt to changing needs acting in the best interests of our clients to ensure their decisions have maximum impact on the quality of data.  Luckily, methods can almost always be adapted or redesigned thinking about the following:

1. Ask Why?

We need to understand what our stakeholders also have deadlines to meet with limited resources, so have conversations with them to learn more.

Have empathy and seek to understand the  demands they are facing. Once you understand their perspective, you’ll can  find ways to addressing their needs without having to sacrificing the integrity of your research protocols.

2. Prioritize Needs

Try breaking up the objectives and key questions you are trying to answer.  Sometimes using a combination of different research methods (e.g. a survey supplementing usability testing) may be more efficient than trying to answer a multitude of questions with one method.  Let your stakeholders know what questions can and cannot be answered and why.

3. Reduce # of Participants

When stakeholders hit you with budget cuts and shorter timelines, we can ask:  Can we cut back our number of participants?

Unless you are benchmarking or conducting statistical analyses, you can always look to minimize your sample size based on proper reasoning.

4. Restructure Methods

Can the Key Questions be answered through a simpler method and research setup?  Find ways to get insights prior to user interfaces though online surveys or remote interviews. Try conducting heuristic evaluation instead of usability testing to identify potential usability issues.  Think about ways you can answer that key questions without increasing the budget.

5. Streamline Analysis

If you can’t compromise on the number of participants or the method structure, find ways to streamline your analysis process.  Building a template for quantitative analysis, meticulously labeling the data, or assigning a person to analyze during the data collection phase are some ways of introducing efficiency.

6. Speak Their Language

Integrating a UX process in product development cycle through small, iterative testing benefits the company in the long run so they don’t spend revenue in unnecessary features or on fixing them when features are fully built out.  Educate your stakeholders of the negative impact of neglecting UX investment.

7. Build A Team

Are you the only guru on your product development team?  Train your team to think like a UX researcher so they themselves are asking is this what the users need?  There are a multitude of methods that allow designers and developers to be involved to help them build empathy for their users.

Keep stakeholders in the loop.  Constant and continuous communication is key to winning their trust.  There really isn’t ever a one size fits all solution, you apply your best strategy based on the given problem.

Written by:  Zoey Ryu, Senior Associate Human-Centered Design with Lextant and  Carolyn Morgan, a UX Researcher at OCLC.  This content was originally created for IxDA Columbus in April 2020.