When I was first starting off with as a UX consultant, I did a bunch of stakeholder interviews and user interviews for an investment company. I learned a couple lessons…

Background

The investment company was a very hierarchical company. Employees didn’t do anything without permission from their managers and they would never say anything negative about processes if they thought it could get back to the managers. I was working on an intranet redesign project, trying to discover how the various department pages could be more uniform and helpful.

Lesson One: Get the Right People

The project manager had never done any “usability” work and wasn’t sure of the kind of people I needed. I didn’t coach him well enough and he arranged a series of interviews with managers who couldn’t tell me anything about the intranet (because managers didn’t use the intranet). After a few interviews, I told him:

  • For stakeholder interviews, I need to talk to people who are invested and involved in the project, but aren’t the end users.
  • For user interviews, I need to talk to people who aren’t responsible for the project work, who use the intranet a lot, and who have feedback on how it works for them.

He was a good PM and went out and found me the right people.

Lesson Two: Make User Interviews Private and Results Anonymous

For the user interviews, these should be private and the results anonymous. During this project, when we interviewed employees (or our users), the project manager and the employee’s manager were also in the room or on the call. Like I said, it was a very controlled environment. Needless to say we didn’t get a lot of honest and authentic comments.

It was shortly after this project that I consulted on another project and had the opportunity to talk to another UX person. He advised that user interviews, especially when the users are employees, should always be private and anonymous otherwise employees won’t speak their minds. He said the best way to approach it is to tell the managers that to get value from the money they are spending, these interviews need to be private and anonymous.

What to Know More?

If you’d like to know more, you can follow Key Pointe’s Company Page on LinkedIn or you can contact me for a free, one-on-one, 15 minute phone call to get a more solid understanding and direction to more resources.