Discovering Discoveries

Girl discovering a forrest clearing
Sue Spolan
Sue Spolan

Your way of doing things is unlike anyone else’s. That’s good and bad. While some aspects of your business differentiate you from the competition, others are actually slowing you down. And you might not even know it.

Like barnacles on the bottom of an ocean liner, workarounds and inefficiencies grow on your business. That’s where the discovery process begins. A skilled objective third party sees the intent of the original plan and points out places where digital solutions can maximize your time and minimize your cost. Not to mention scraping the barnacles.

From Unknown to Well Known

What if you don’t really know what you want? To get up to speed, you need to answer questions that will start the conversation to align business goals, technical goals and functional needs. A discovery can also work backwards, taking into account budgetary and time constraints, or business priorities.

What is That Thing?

A discovery that includes a site audit examines every aspect of your digital property, from how content is organized in information architecture to alignment with business strategy. Does your site’s main navigation reflect what you want users to do? It should.

Code for Success

Code audits look at the structure of your site build and the modules that have been incorporated. A discovery provides recommendations about your critical fixes, your recommended fixes, and the nice to haves. All discoveries are built upon the ideas of prioritization, communication, and collaboration, in that order. Here's why: if you don't know what you want, will be hard to prioritize, and if you can’t communicate, it's hard to collaborate.

Our way of getting to that is by sitting down and talking with you. Discovery will also establish the metrics of success. Some discovery tasks are very simple and relate to quality assurance, or QA (i.e., does this button work when I press it?).

Every work order generated through discovery solves a business need for your organization. Before we start any work, we need to know exactly what problems we are solving in order to solve the equation. Therefore, you must establish a baseline to know what you are measuring against.

Discovering Priorities

Through discovery, we are able to generate user stories. They validate our work. A simple example of a user story is: "When Allie presses this button, she joins the email list." The user stories are like answer keys.

The next step is to create a thorough project plan that outlines how the design and development process works, what features are top priorities, and how developers use the existing site or content to update or build a new site.

We often recommend discoveries to clients who have great ideas, but haven’t fully formed a plan to bring ideas to fruition. A discovery allows us to get on the same page as our clients, and gives everyone involved a deeper understanding of the project business, functional and technical goals. The truth is, no matter how well thought out your project is, we always end up doing a little bit of discovery.

In the long run, discoveries save you money. When we familiarize ourselves with your project before getting started, we identify issues that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. 

What Happens Next?

Discoveries vary depending on your project’s individual needs. Some things we include in discoveries are:

  • Content audits: A content audit typically occurs when you migrate content from your existing site to a new site. Often, you have a large amount of old, legacy content sitting around on your site that no one views anymore. During a content audit, we comb through your existing content and help you determine what to keep, and what to move off your site.

  • Module/code audits: A module or code audit lets us check your site’s existing code. If there is anything that you want to reuse, it’s best for us to see if there are any bugs or glaring issues before we work with it during a redesign.

  • Security audits: If you’ve had any security problems, we always perform a security audit. It gives us a sense of where any security breaches are coming from and how we can fix the issues.

  • Project planning: Developing a project plan is a great first step in any project. We love sitting down with new clients to create a prioritized list of features that can be turned into a project plan. This plan helps guide the design and development of a site and works as a roadmap of progress. Even if you already have a rough project plan created, it’s always best to iron out all the tough details before kicking off a project.

  • Wireframes:  If your site needs design and theming, we often package initial wireframes in a discovery. This first iteration of wireframes, or the “bones” of a site design, gives our design team a jumping off point for the overall site design and helps create a discussion around design goals.

One of the greatest benefits of a discovery is all the documentation you get upon completion. We create full reports of our findings, including recommendations for next steps. Whether you’re already signed on for a full project, or the discovery was just a first step, you can walk away with physical documents describing a detailed overview of your site. No matter whom you decide to use for your project, these documents will be useful.

Starting a new project or looking to redesign your existing web app or site? Let us know what you’re looking for and we can get you started on the path to success.

Key Steps in Discoveries

  • Requirements gathering (technical, functional, business)

  • User stories

  • Acceptance testing criteria

  • Prioritized backlog

  • Agreed upon terms/shared vocabulary

  • Scope management

  • MVP: minimum viable product

  • Design mockups

  • Create timelines

  • Examine assumptions

  • Incorporate risk mitigation

Deliverables From Discoveries

  • Wireframes

  • Design mockup via UXpin

  • Site audit document

  • Architecture plan

  • Content strategy/editorial plan

  • Project plan

Ready to get started?

Tell us about your project