All Blogs,Design Insights, - May 29, 2019

What Role Does the Web Design Discovery Process Play?

A Web Design Discovery Process Overview
What To Expect

To a neophyte, a website design discovery session is both exciting and mysterious. It is that first big meeting between a web development project team and key stakeholders that come together to ensure alignment around business goals, web design strategy and scalability, and general expectations around the process moving forward, among other details.

From the perspective of a website’s design and development team, the discovery phase is the most important phase of all. It’s the first stage of a web development project that investigates how the future website will best serve the demands of a business and its consumers. This is where questions about features and functionalities come into discussion. What sort of engine is under the hood of this new site? Does it need to integrate with payment processors, customer relationship management systems, marketing automation platforms, or something else? Are there specific cybersecurity or data privacy issues that have to be considered? For example, if you’re building a healthcare website, are there any HIPAA compliance issues for us to address? All of these questions matter in the earliest stage of your website design. 

You could say that the design thinking that goes into this process is the first phase of research and analysis. And, the most important piece? Considering your end-user and recognizing for whom the website is being designed.

Discovering Your Website’s End Goals

Of the many best practices of any web designer, a critical one is a thorough analysis of the website’s goals. Much like an interview process, you should expect that your website designer and web developer will quiz you on a series of topics related to your business, its goals, and how the website should play into that mix. Without a doubt, a quick deep dive into your company’s brand is also a part of this conversation.

In our opinion, a company’s brand comes down to six key components:

  • Focus on your customer
    • Who is your target audience?
    • How does your website impact that audience?
  • Culture
    • What can your customer expect from you? Do you promise that same thing every time, with everyone?
    • How can your new website further validate and support your customer and brand culture?
  • Voice
    • Is your brand serious and buttoned-up or is it playful and fun?
    • This impacts the tone of your web content, and can even play into your color psychology.
  • Feelings
    • What does your market think of you? What do you want them to think of you?
    • Consider how the American Airlines Customer Service portal make you feel, and then check out Tesla’s website. Big difference!
  • Impact
    • What are your values and how does that impact your every decision?
    • Does the website design look capable of achieving a specific, measurable business outcome?
      • If so, what is your specific, measurable, achievable business goal from this web project?
  • X-Factor
    • How do you position your brand relative to others?
    • Your new web design must truly empower your site, relative to your competitors…. does it showcase your X-factor?

It is important that you think through what your new web project is going to achieve. For the most part, you only have to show up to this meeting with your business problem, your vision, and your goals. From there, a capable team of website designers and web project managers will guide you toward the most impactful project plan.

In this first meeting, there are no “good” or “bad” answers. If your responses are thoughtful and relevant to your website, then they are valuable responses that will be strongly considered. If for some reason, key things are left out or added at a later date, your project team will work with you to determine the best path forward.

As a friendly heads up, we’ll inform you that the process may well seem like an awkward one — you may even feel uncomfortable being a part of it because some of the business questions you are asked are very specific — but the goal is to leverage your website as a digital marketing tool and establish your company’s image to the world. Everything we talk about is intended to get us from A to B (and then to C, D, E, etc). 

An example of discovery session questions may be as follows:

  • What is the desired project outcome? 
  • What is the project’s expected timeframe?
  • What is the budget for this project for its initial development?
  • Have you considered a budget for routine or periodic maintenance and updates?
  • Who is the project sponsor and what is their relationship to the key decision-makers?
  • Who is your target end-user and what are their expectations?
  • Are there any security requirements specific to accessibility or HIPPA compliance?
  • Is your website in need of post launch support, such as SEO services?
  • Do you need the assistance of a content writer to ensure that your messaging is powerful? 

Looking Externally

Understanding your business needs and objectives is absolutely essential. We need to understand where your company is relative to its market niche, and we have to understand where it’s going. A website can make a small business look massive, and similarly, it can make a big brand seem small and local. What is your goal and what does your web visitor expect from you? What do your customers need? We’ll need to establish the following subcategories to get things right:

  • Demographics:
    • The cultural narratives, region, and identity of the world from which your target market hails.
    • We will likely factor in the psychographics of your customer and work to understand how your site fits into that.
  • Backstory problems:
    • What are the problems, or pain points, of your audience?
    • What can your website provide to address those problems?
  • Your customers’ needs:
    • What are your audiences’ interests, what are they looking for, and how can your website provide a solution?
    • Is a mobile experience just as important as a desktop web experience?
  • How to exceed their needs:
    • What can we do for your business that won’t just satisfy your customers, but “wow” them?
    • Does this website need to accelerate your sales process? What sort of data do you wish to collect?

What’s the Point of this Web Discovery Process?

The point of the discovery process is simple: to design and develop an absolutely brilliant business site. 

Without a proper alignment around what it should do and for whom, then we’re sort of shooting in the dark. That’s why we work to clarify objectives, align around a project plan, and make sure that the voice of all stakeholders is heard and considered.

When we say everybody, we mean you, our client, and your team, including users, decision-makers, and anyone that will touch this project. Everybody also means our team as well, including the web designer, the website developers, and the marketing content creators – quite literally, everybody. That very reasoning is why discovery is one of the (most important) best practices to begin any web design process.

Not sure what to ask in your own website kickoff meeting??  Here's what to ask.

Summing Things Up

From day one, our experts will work with you to build your website based on information obtained during the web discovery process. Our award-winning web designers and web developers will confer with you throughout the entire development process. If revisions are necessary, we will work to ensure that the final result of your website becomes an extension of your brand, creating an engaging user experience, and helping to grow your brand’s reach and subsequent success.

Throughout this process, you can expect us to share suggestions and offer helpful solutions that help you more rapidly achieve your desired end result. Our goal is to help you enjoy the fastest, most impactful return on investment. To get the ball rolling on your project, all it takes is a quick, no-obligation first conversation. So let’s get the ball rolling.

We have completed over 1500 projects and we can share information that will help you fill in the blanks faster than not — Reach out to the Dallas based website experts at Agency Partner today.

Not big on reading? That’s okay. Watch “A Guide to the Web Design Discovery Process”

Using the power of Artificial Intelligence, we turned this blog into a video for you. Watch it below.