7 Signs Your Project Needs a Discovery Phase

You have a great idea for a new project. Maybe you want to redesign your site to improve your conversions and SEO. Perhaps your team wants to build a shiny new intranet that solves all of your employees’ needs. Or you want to develop a new app to solve a problem in a new, innovative way. You know what you want to achieve, but do you know how to get there?
Without a well thought out and detailed strategy, achieving your goals might feel impossible. Here are 7 signs that your project needs a proper discovery phase before investing in any type of design and development project.

You’re Not Sure Which Technology is Best for Your Project

No matter what kind of site or application you’re setting out to build, there are many technologies to choose from, and picking the right technology out of the gate is imperative for long-term success.

During a discovery, you’ll break down all of your project goals and features and the right tech partner will work with you to determine the best technology to get the job done.

You Haven’t Defined Your Technical Requirements

You may know what platform you’d like to build on - say Drupal, for example - but what other technical requirements are involved in building your project?

Concepts for projects are often very high level and business-oriented. For example, you know that you want an eCommerce website to sell your products, but you have no idea which software would best support your custom ordering and fulfillment integrations.

Determining technical requirements during a discovery helps to better define how your project will go from a great idea to a fully functioning site or application to run your business. Every page and feature will be determined along with the tools that are necessary to build them. Your technical requirements will also help guide your overall project roadmap and the estimate for your investment.

You Haven’t Set a Budget Yet

Speaking of estimates, have you determined a budget? It can be difficult to come up with a number before you know what will really be involved in fleshing out your idea.

Once your technical requirements have been defined, your technology partner will be able to provide an estimate for all of your must-have features. From there, you can set your budget for the first phase and decide what can be left out and completed in a second phase, and so on.

You Don’t Know Your User Personas

Well-defined user personas are critical for a website or web application’s success. You can’t build a successful digital product if you haven’t carefully thought about who exactly you’re building it for.

The right discovery will include thorough research and user testing to determine what exactly your users are looking for. It will also explore the paths they take and establish journey maps for the best possible user experience. Well developed user acceptance criteria helps further validate decisions for the product to ensure every decision is made with your users’ best interests in mind.

Your Stakeholders Can’t Come to a Consensus

When there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen, it can be difficult to get everyone to agree. Many digital projects span multiple divisions of organizations, resulting in a large number of stakeholders and opinions. Naturally, each department and stakeholder has different priorities and goals that will help them do their jobs better, which can make it difficult to nail down a project’s requirements and overarching approach.

It’s critical to get all of the stakeholders and department representatives together with a third party technology partner to build consensus and analyze all of the edge cases. Ultimately, after in-person meetings and strategy sessions, you and your tech team will be able to establish project goals and a plan that takes everyone’s needs and priorities into account without blowing up the budget.

Your Existing Site or Application Isn’t Up to Snuff

If your current website or web application isn’t working as well as you’d like it to, it’s important to figure out exactly why that is before you begin a new project to make improvements.

A site audit will provide an in-depth look at any existing problems and provide insight into how to fix them. Whether there are technical issues and bugs, a lack of conversions on your site, or poor adoption of your new application, the right discovery will dig into the issues and shortcomings to come up with solutions that will achieve your goals.

You Can’t See the Forest Through the Trees

When you’re deeply involved with a project, it’s easy to get caught up in the small details and intricacies. This can lead to a lack of innovation and fresh ideas that may not align with your end users’ needs and experiences. An unbiased third party can help you take a step back and offer a fresh, expert perspective that will help your site or application thrive.

Leverage a technology team’s tools, experience, and expert staff to help you and your team innovate and achieve your goals. Looking for the right partner to get you there? Let us know. We'd be happy to help!