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I've just started work with a big travel company that is working on redoing their 'self service' page. What would be some intelligent questions to ask the stake holders? How do I understand what issues to tackle first, and how to prioritize elements of the redesign?

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A bit off question, but also consider gradually enhancing/redesigning the page, as compared to doing a complete overhaul. You'll find some good Q&A dealing with that also. –  kontur Feb 6 '13 at 19:22
    
This might be a candidate question to convert to a Community Wiki as I don't think there is a correct answer here, but it's not really subjective so isn't Off Topic either. –  JonW Feb 8 '13 at 10:04
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5 Answers

I can think of three critical questions to ask upfront.

  • What are their business goals? What sorts of behaviours are they looking to encourage over the next three to five years? More sign ups? More word-of-mouth circulation? Did they already have any ideas how the site could support this?
  • What issues have they already identified with the existing solution? Why are they redesigning the page? If it's part of a broader project, what are the aims of that project?
  • What's the scope of change development-wise? Are they looking for a staggered, agilist rollout or a waterfall 'single release'? What's the timeline and what other dependencies are there (e.g. other integrated marketing campaigns)?
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Thanks Jimmy. Very helpful! Its a small redesign, just focusing on a page within customer support called Self-Service. The idea is the customers should be able to cancel and change their bookings themselves. –  learning2ux Feb 6 '13 at 20:05
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I suggest a Stakeholder Workshop.

In my experience these workshops can uncover conflicts between different stakeholders and help resolve them and also clarify the business aims as, in past projects, I have found that asking alone can result in a very vague set of business requirements. This is the part of User Experience that overlaps with Business Analysis but can be vital to ensure the project starts on a solid foundation.

This workshop could be half a day / a day and cover, amongst other things such as technology constraints etc:

What are the aims of the project? What prompted the project and what are the key success criteria?

Who is the audience? What information exists about the customers and using the workshop to build up a key user types and attributes of those user types (or personas if you prefer). I also look at what users do before and after the part of the problem being looked at.

There's various other information available if you google "UX stakeholder workshop"

Techniques include collecting and prioritising requirements, building up user journeys and seeing where the pain and pleasure points are and getting the stakeholders to build up stories / sketch out solutions to describe how they perceive the solution.

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+1 for holding a workshop –  FrankL Feb 8 '13 at 9:38
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BoxesandArrow published an excerpt of Kim Goodwins book. This article serie is about requirement gathering. I like the detailed questions and checklists for special positions/stakeholders to ask. Might be worth to read for you.

These are the articles

Understanding the Business

The General Stakeholder Interview

The Marketing Stakeholder Interview

The Engineering Stakeholder Interview

The Sales Stakeholder Interview

Interviewing Executives and SME Stakeholders

A Stakeholder Interview Checklist

Project Management for Stakeholder Interviews

And a text snippet:

All stakeholders

  • What is your role in this project?
  • What did you do before this?
  • What is this product going to be?
  • Who is this product for?
  • When is the version we’re designing going to be released?
  • What worries you about this project? What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  • What should this project accomplish for the business?
  • How will you, personally, define success for this project?
  • Is there anyone you think we need to speak with who isn’t on our list? Who?
  • How would you like to be involved in the rest of the project, and what’s the best way to reach you?
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This is very helpful! Thanks! –  learning2ux Feb 11 '13 at 23:46
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Apart from what Jimmy has pointed out, here are some that have helped me in my projects:

  • Do they have any existing user research based on which they have planned the redesign and if not, will they be willing to conduct some?
  • How will a successful redesign be measured/defined? In other words, when will they feel that the redesign worked?
  • Do they have budget constraints?
  • Are there any other websites that they like?
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Amit - thank you. They don't have much research yet because this is the first version. They are focusing on providing an interface for changing itineraries - and will iterate as they move along. No budget constraints, and there was no website that had anything similar. All valid questions, and I will ask again - maybe pose them to someone else. –  learning2ux Feb 6 '13 at 20:07
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You have some great answers already. Here is what I would add to the list

  • Who are their users ? What is their background ?
  • How do users get to this page ? What information do they carry over to this page ?
  • What is the maximum source of complaints you get about your self service page
  • Do you have any analytical data we can use which determine the drop off points for the page?
  • Do you have access to any tracking information which allows us to determine the user flow
  • What are the must have features which must be there and have proven to be sucessful
  • Are there specific sections which dont have a high conversion rate (this differs from issues or breakpoints)
  • If you identify potential usablity issues which might arise from long forms or long checkout processes, ask them about why there might be a need for seemingly redundant information and what could be eliminated without sacrificing the functionality

    -

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