Web Design & Development Discovery Process

As web designers we, don’t work in a vacuum. We are not fine artists with only our creative genius to answer to. Our projects have unique needs and business goals that need to be accomplished and results measured. For many of our interactive projects the hardest elements to bring into focus are clients desires, wants and needs. The general consensus among web designers is that clients “don’t know what they want or need.”  This is simply impossible – clients know they have a need to fill or they wouldn’t have engaged an agency to begin with. It’s our job (and it’s not always an easy one), to pull these details out of the space between what the client says and what we hear. To do this, we must pay attention to detail, ask thoughtful questions and guide our clients through a mindful discovery process. Prior to the discovery meeting, do as much research as you can on the client and try to understand their core values and risks.

Discovery – Its important to understand that your web design clients are not ‘the enemy.’ They might wear a suit to work or have very different taste in art, food, etc., but ultimately they are the boss and product owner. By creating a unified approach to the web design discovery process we create a team atmosphere around the project success. Prior to the discovery meeting, do as much research as you can on the client and try to understand their core values and risks. Then listen attentively to your clients. As designers, we need to listen and ask intelligent questions that will help guide us in creating user experiences that are intuitive to the target audience. We want to hear a compelling story, uncover a theme that powers the story and be convinced by it. Our clients want this also. They want to communicate these things and have our team understand the hidden and abstract details that will make the user interface exceed expectations and produce quantifiable results.

Sample Questions:

What are we trying to communicate?

What challenges is your business currently struggling to address?

What does your target audience care about?

How does this project (ex: web design) support your business goals?

Where/how do people learn about your company/product/service?

Listening is an art. It’s asking the right questions in just the right ways and fine-tuning your reception to the answer, however buried it may be. Different clients need to be handled individually.

You have to sell the product, otherwise the design is crap.” – Steve Kazanjian

You sell the product by showcasing what is unique about it while touting why it’s better than the competitors. What do you want potential customers to feel when they experience the website? Is it the best quality? Does it offer the most competitive prices? Does that company have a unique history or rich traditions? Once you have identified why the product or service is unique in the first place, you can figure out how to sell it. Everything has a story; sometimes it’s just harder to locate.