Every high-performing website or online project is strongly rooted in Project Discovery.
But because no two websites are exactly alike, arriving at a realistic number depends upon a myriad of questions and conditions about you, your business, goals, existing and planned content, budget, timeframe, and the way you like to work with your consultants.
Discovery is a multidiscplinary exercise rooted in strategic planning, online marketing, digital communications know how, and usability insight. It is heavily informed by an intuitive sense of what people want–and how they behave–online.
When you are aware of how your communications and business goals could/should be satisfied online, you’re in a better position to ask for, and receive, realistic proposals from web developers, rather than the canned ones produced to attract your attention.
Some web development companies have the inside talent to guide clients through a full dose of Discovery, but some don’t. Likewise, some clients are willing to pay for this cost-saving measure up front, but some aren’t; too many have short-changed the process by asking developers to squeeze it into the RFP process, when neither the client nor the consultant is fully committed to, nor understanding of, the other’s success.
But the truth is:
Every fully realized business website was informed by project specifications that were derived from hours of analysis and discovery.
And when the process is short-changed, you pay for it one way or another–either with an underperforming website or with budget overage to account for all the features you realized you simply must have!
During the Discovery phase, I act as a liaison between your editorial and sales staff and your technical team. I start by asking a lot of questions. Together, we take hard look at your business and communications goals and start to imagine how they can be realized online through a variety of website features and dynamic displays.
Most of my clients are energized by this process because it offers a strategic and focused opportunity to take an in-depth look at your business goals, to define key audiences and priority messages, and to seize new opportunities for interacting with customers in a highly digitized and fast-changing world.
Don’t skip Discovery in your zest to reach the finish line. It can help save money in the long run.
I offer Discovery as a separate line-item service or blend it into Content Strategy or Project Management services. With its ‘no risk, no obligation’ terms, clients can bring me into their existing technical team, hire my technical team, or take my recommendations and run with them elsewhere.
A predetermined number of strategy sessions culminate in a Discovery Document that outlines preliminary specifications such as:
- Website Goals (increase memberships, sell products, buy services, inform constituents, attract sponsorships)
- Target Audiences
- Desired User Behaviors
- Content Analysis/Inventory
- Calls To Action (e.g., join, renew, buy, read, download, click, sign up, register)
- Tools & Tactics (e.g, interactive content delivery features such as e-commerce, blog, Google maps, social media integration, photo galleries, interactive forms, etc.)
- Preliminary Site Map and Wireframes