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How to Get Stakeholder Feedback in the Web Development Process

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Anand Srinivasan
October 23, 2017

Anand Srinivasan

Anand is an independent consultant based in Bangalore, India. He advises small businesses on their strategy in the online segment.

Anand Srinivasan has written 7 articles for WebKnowHow.
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There are multiple stakeholders in any given website development project. The visitors to your site are the external stakeholders and their concerns about your website affect the user experience. Factors of user experience include how easy it is to access information, or how ads can distract them from engaging with your site. However, the business team in your organization is the most prominent internal stakeholder and their concerns can often be in direct conflict with your visitors. Business teams can insist on retaining a distracting ad spot or wanting customers to navigate through multiple pages if they feel as though that would increase revenue.

As the web development head, your job is to consider the requirements from all sides and arrive at a sweet spot that does not compromise the web development standards that you have set for your business. However, this can be tricky since the objectives of your stakeholders are not always aligned.

Seeking Business Feedback

Web development teams tend to go to their visitors first for feedback. This may not be a good idea since that sets your development agenda on a path that is idealistic and may not generate revenue for your business. Also, seeking the advice of your visitors before that of the business team could set the benchmark unrealistically high and arriving at a sweet spot from here could be extremely tough.

Seeking advice from your business team first is good for two reasons. Firstly, it helps the dev team to establish the business objectives of the site. Knowing this enables the developers to identify ways to achieve these objectives without compromising on user experience. Also, as an internal team, it is always possible to go back to the business team for feedback - this may not always be possible with an external stakeholder like your customers.

Most businesses today make use of the agile methodology of working and this necessitates quick, incremental changes to your product. As a result, seeking business feedback may be a continuous process, rather than a one-time task. Make use of a collaboration tool like Slack that can help internal teams of an organization collaborate. You could set up polling for your internal teams to identify web elements that work and those that don’t. This helps you build a minimum viable prototype that you could take to customers in the next step of the process.

Taking Prototype Design to Customers

Once you have the prototype approved by your internal teams ready, it is time to share it with your customers to get their feedback. Most likely, your visitors may not approve of many of the elements or design choices of your website. But as a business, you do not have to concede to every demand. This is especially true for websites that depend on ad revenue. The idea here is to arrive at a sweet spot that satisfies your customers while retaining the mandate provided to you by the business team.

There are two ways to receive feedback from your customers. One way would be to make use of a public survey tool like SurveyMonkey to solicit feedback from customers who have been exposed to your new design. The second way to do this would be to take the new design into production and analyze user engagement metrics to see how your visitors are reacting to these changes. The advantage with the first option is that you may identify the biggest annoyances among customers and may remove them before you take the new design into production. Taking your design directly to production may be risky as Digg.com discovered a few years back.



Finalizing the Design

The business team and your visitors are perhaps the two most important stakeholders when it comes to redesigning a website. Once you have taken the feedback from both these teams, it is time to put your redesign work into motion. The new features on the site may either be introduced incrementally or in one instant upgrade. What path you pick should be determined by your business model. A website that leans completely on organic search traffic must stay away from big redesigns since that can upset search traffic. Also, this model helps your organization study the business impact on these incremental upgrades and can help tweak the future direction of the redesign project.

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