Feedback is essential to any project that has stakeholders. Feedback communicates desires, requirements, ideas, emotions, and a whole load of other useful insight that will help your web project achieve its goals. There are multiple ways to gather feedback, and one of the best tools to equip yourself with is fairly standard: a good question.
Good questions, by my definition and as it relates to a web project, have three common aspects. First, a good question is open and does not lead the respondent into an answer. Second, good questions are revealing – they unravel information that otherwise would never have been known to you. And finally, a good question is conducive to active listening. In other words, the question you ask contains the right amount and mixture of substance to enable you to ask further questions and to relate back to the one answering, thus engaging you in the process and showing the respondent that you’re listening.
Here’s a sampling of five simple questions that you should have prepared at all times during a project.
What do you think of this?
An obvious question, though many forget to ask it when delivering mock-ups, concepts, and prototypes. Simply asking project stakeholders what their thoughts are – without prompting for any specific area of feedback – can uncover problems and give you new ideas.
Why do you feel that way?
This personal question can help shed light on a client’s position. Oftentimes, people say one thing, but really mean something else. Your job is to dig into their reasoning and discover what it is the client means. This question is especially valuable after receiving negative feedback.
What are/were your expectations?
Many people develop mental maps of how certain tasks and processes should work. Without accessing these mental maps, your method of work may end up conflicting. Simple questions concerning the stakeholder’s expectations can clarify their needs, desires, and behaviors.
How does this relate to your organization?
Taking the question away from the client and shifting it to encompass the organization as a whole can be a valuable exercise. It helps the client to focus less on their personal feelings and more on the relation to their organization, and it enables you learn about the workings of the company, which ultimately, is what you’re working for.
What potential problems do you see?
A more direct approach in terms of questioning – asking outright what problems a client foresees can assist you in eliminating costly burdens. Some people may not be inclined to point out problems, which is why it’s your job to encourage their feedback. Furthermore, clients understand the intimate details of their organization and may identify problems that you otherwise would never have considered.