Kick off your first UX meeting like a Pro

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Whenever you are being interviewed for a new UX project, the one who should be asking the majority of questions is you. And I don’t mean you should dump the bucket of questions right after the handshake with the project manager, founders or whomever you are meeting with. This is more of a heads up to show off the level of your expertise, as well as a great opportunity to figure out whether the project speaks to you.

You can talk about your past experiences and achievements, but chances are what worked for the previous project won’t work for the upcoming one. Here, it is important to understand who and what you are dealing with. Are you familiar with the industry well enough? Is this B2B or B2C model? Who are the users and are they innovation friendly at all?

Your primary goal in any UX project is to reach users through the design process, so before considering creating anything at all, you should make sure to understand the problem well enough so the solution is obvious.

Asking questions even before you are hired will help you to not only establish credibility but also to learn about the industry, product, users and their pain points. Why does this matter? Well, you probably think you are the UX expert so you are capable of figuring out anything, but you also want to make sure for that the project is your “cup of tea“. You should love what you do after all.

That being said, what are the most insightful questions that will allow you to kick off your first meeting like a pro?

I’ve prepared a top 10 list of questions, that can serve as a cheat sheet at the first meeting and will allow you to get answers you need to kick off your first UX project. (It is important to avoid jumping to solutions right away. Ask questions and record answers first.)

My top 10 list to kick off UX meeting:

  • What is the product or service? (what you will be working on)
  • Who are the users or customers? (who you will be interviewing, user testing, listening for their feedback, and finally serving)
  • What problem are you trying to solve? (“why” this project exists on the first place)
  • Are there any other products/services out there that help users to solve the same problem? (to help you understand if there are any competitors )
  • What are the user’s pain points with those products/services? (to help you understand your competitors’ weaknesses, that you can use to your advantage)
  • What are the user’s pain points with your product/service? (to help you pick priorities for this project)
  • Why your product should be important to the user? (to help you identify the value proposition of the product)
  • Are there any constraints (technological, business, etc.)? (to help you figure out if there any blockers to an upcoming project and whether you are capable of dealing with them)
  • Who are the primary decision-makers on this project? (to help you find out who to reach out to when you need to get a green light on your next step)
  • Does any relevant documentation exist (personas, user flows, brand guidelines, style guide)? (alongside with your questionnaire analysis, this will help you to kick off your next project like a PRO)

Chances are you will be stuck on question #3 for a long time and may not be able to address all of the list, because the meaningful questions create meaningful conversations. A good project manager understands the importance of educating you about the industry background and workflow process to allow you understand the problem well.

Let’s say you are discussing a new software that suppose dramatically improve the way bankers work on certain internal tasks. Now, you have never worked at the bank and you have no clue what a banker’s usual day looks like. It doesn’t mean you can’t work on the project, but it does mean that you need to do sufficient research. Asking questions would be the very first step in this process.

But if you’ve got plenty of time and the problem company is trying to solve is easy to understand — you’ve got yourself covered with a top 10 list of questions so you can carry on the conversation towards your own benefit.

This questionnaire can also help you identify how the information is treated within the organization. Are they giving you a sufficient amount of insight or are they simply brushing the surface? Do they understand that good UX is not only the job of one person (UX designer), but is a combination of the work of the entire team. Many business and tech decisions may significantly affect the quality of the user flow, that is why we should ask if there are any technological or business constraints.

Finally you can step up your game even more by giving your two cents as feedback. Show them that you‘ve done your homework and include a few company or product specific comments. This will allow you to not only express your interest but also will help to make a first step in order to create a relationship with the future managers as well as it will help you to see whether you are passionate about what you do even before you are an official part of the team.