The case for a robust discovery process before beginning design/development projects.
Imagine a house that’s beautiful from the outside but, once you cross the threshold, you find the floorplan is all wrong, the rooms are too small, and the windows are too high to reach.
It takes time and thought to develop the layout and “experience” of such an interior so that it meets the expectations and needs of the people who enter. No matter how spectacular the exterior is, if the internal experience doesn’t deliver, the whole thing is a failure.
It’s the same in our business. We’d be doing a disservice to our clients if we started design and development without defining the experience they want to provide. That’s why it’s important to undergo a robust discovery process that sets the stage for smarter design and development choices.
The objectives of this discovery process are to:
- Understand the brand
- Understand the business
- Understand the audience
Once we understand a client’s brand, business, and audience, everything from that point forward aligns with the client’s unique needs; there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
The discovery process informs Business and User Requirements, the Customer Experience Strategy, and the Brand Platform. The benefit of this is that the different members of the team contributing to the final product remain aligned and grounded in consistent foundations. At each stage of the design and development process, we can refer back to these guidelines to ensure we are remaining true to what we set out to do.
Having guidelines and constantly checking back with them produces a better end product. Clients directly benefit from this process of constant validation, since it ensures that:
- Clients are making the most of their budgets and not paying for features they don’t need.
- Everything in the final product has a purpose that fits their unique needs.
- Goals and deliverables set at the beginning of the project are met at the end.
- The final product fits into the client’s overall communications strategy; reinforcing a consistent customer experience across all channels.
We have found that the last point is particularly valuable to our clients because the results of the discovery process can be used for reference in future endeavors. The customer experience strategy, in particular, can serve as a foundation for other cross-channel communications: email campaigns, landing pages, extranets, print pieces, and any other customer touchpoints.In addition to ensuring the success of a one-off engagement, the discovery process has far-reaching benefits that extend beyond any single initiative. It’s also an opportunity for clients to take a step back and see their business from the eyes of their customers. With this perspective, it is clear how the house’s floorplan should be laid out, how large the rooms should be, and how the windows should be placed.