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3 Reasons Discovery Might Not Lead to the Best Results

Britney Na Interaction Designer
#Design Advice, #Discovery
Published on September 18, 2014

Learn how to make sure the findings and goals from the Discovery phase of a project remain relevant throughout the entire process.

At Diagram, we regularly emphasize the importance of Discovery in every website project we undertake. Performing Discovery allows us to more fully understand a website’s needs and pain points, gain insight into how users accomplish what they need to do, build consensus among the project’s stakeholders, and plan for how to meet the project’s goals.

However, we’ve found that while Discovery always gives us essential insights into a project, there are times that it doesn’t lead to the results we or our clients had hoped for. Maybe the goals we had set weren’t met, or perhaps the design created in our workshops didn’t end up functioning as expected. What was the cause of this gap between plans and results? Let’s look at a few reasons Discovery might not lead to ideal results, and the ways we can work to ensure that this doesn’t happen:

1. Timing

Website redesign projects can often take a long time to complete, especially for large sites. Discovery is the first step of the process, but as the project continues through the design and development phases, the lessons learned and goals set during Discovery can fall by the wayside. This isn’t an issue with the Discovery phase itself, but merely an issue of priorities. As work continues on actually building the site and preparing for its launch, the focus can shift towards what is currently being worked on, with the Discovery phase, having taken place several months earlier, seeming less relevant.

How Can We Avoid This?

Following Discovery, we work with the client to make decisions about how to address the issues found and set goals for the redesign project. In order to make sure these goals remain relevant throughout the entire project, we create a Design Brief which we can refer to throughout the remainder of the project. This document summarizes what was discussed during Discovery, highlighting the issues and problems that we want to solve. By setting down these goals in writing, we can make sure we remain on track to meet them throughout the entire project and don’t lose focus on what issues we are trying to solve.

2. Stakeholder Buy-In and Consensus

During Discovery, it is important to include all of the project’s stakeholders, ensuring that everybody is on the same page regarding the goals of the redesign project. Each stakeholder often has their own goals and ideas of how the website should function and what they want it to accomplish, and they can often focus on their own needs, which can lead to some difficulty accepting new ideas down the line.

Without a consensus on the site’s goals, the project can encounter difficulties in its later stages as different people and departments try to focus on their own goals rather than the goals of the company as a whole.

How Can We Avoid This?

During the Discovery phase, it is important to have stakeholders meet with each other, discuss ideas, and understand the goals of the entire organization. We include design workshops in the Discovery phase, and we try to make sure to involve all stakeholders in the process. This allows them to discuss ideas with their colleagues and understand everyone’s goals and how they all fit together.

Making sure stakeholders understand the goals of the project and the importance of the site redesign is crucial to a project’s success. These design workshops are a great way to involve everyone, help them understand the projects goals as a whole, and allow them to work together to determine the best ways to meet those goals.

3. Client Contributions After Discovery

During Discovery, we work with clients and users to determine the goals of the project, and decisions made during the design and development phases are based on these goals. Unfortunately, sometimes when we reach the prototyping or content migration phases of the project, we’ve created the framework of the site, but we don’t have any content to place within it. While we’re waiting for clients to provide the site’s content (such as informational articles or product data), the project grinds to a halt, and we’re unable to continue until this is provided.

How Can We Avoid This?

Throughout the entire website redesign project, we emphasize the importance of collaboration, which is why we want to make sure everybody is on board, goals are clearly defined, and both we and our partners understand what is expected of us. Creating a Design Brief that summarizes the issues to solve and goals we want to meet is an important part of this, but we also conduct regular meetings with the project’s stakeholders and maintain communication to ensure that everyone understands the project’s current status, what needs to be done next, and what actions are needed from everyone involved.

Discovery: Part of the Big Picture

Discovery is an essential part of any website redesign project, but what the examples above show us is that it is not an isolated stage. The insights gained and decisions made during Discovery shape the entire project, and they should be integrated into every subsequent stage of the design and development process. Making sure these findings are taken into consideration throughout the entire project is crucial to its success.

Do you have any questions for us on how Discovery can be used to determine how your website redesign project should proceed? Do you want to know more about the tools and methods we use during Discovery? Please contact us to speak with a Solutions Engineer, or feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments below.