Avoiding subjective topics in meetings

1 Apr 2009 - 3:52pm
7 years ago
2 replies
1420 reads

Often, when dealing with clients, they love to discuss subjective
topics that have no validity, because they have no empirical
evidence. These could easily be obviated with usability studies, but
very often, clients do not want to these studies. Also, time with
clients is limited, so meetings are wasted on useless discussion and
not important decisions.

These topics can often include: colors, toolbar/button placement,
logo placement, transitions, etc.

Does anyone know of good "best practice" methods to avoid this
waste of time.


2 Apr 2009 - 8:32am

Build a relationship with your clients that sets you up as the
professional in this field. You are the one they brought in to fix
their problems with X, so they should listen to you about X.

This sets you up to either deflect, or redirect these topics.
Deflections is easier: "The colors and logos are important, but they
are more of a question for your graphic designer."

redirection is trickier and will often require some coaching and if
you can point to a passage in one or more books to back you up, that
is even better. "Where the toolbar will go is very important, but to
know this we must nail down what needs to go in the toolbars first.
This is because a toolbar with 5 items needs much less space than one
that needs 20 items." "To know what transitions to use, we need to
know what we are transitioning."

And if all else fails, don't forget you are a professional. Which
means you are not doing your job if the client is getting you off
topic and wasting their own money. So don't let them. Tell them flat
out that they are focused on things that do not matter nearly as much
as other things, and tell them what those other things are.

Refuse to talk about colors if colors don't matter. But this will
only work if you've built that relationship ahead of time. Be
no-nonsense in meetings and when working.

Like users, bosses aren't stupid, they are busy.

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Posted from the new ixda.org

2 Apr 2009 - 10:18am
Phillip Hunter

I suggest organizing the topics that everyone wants to cover into logical groups that represent functionality, interaction, and optional components. Indicate that they need to be discussed in priority order and will all be addressed, time permitting.

Another idea is to commission project sub-groups for things that are truly "anything goes". Everyone who wants to spend time on that can go off and discuss, returning with a recommendation by a PM-imposed deadline. The risk there is not wanting to accept their decision.


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