When projects - especially those focusing on the web - kick off, the initial meetings are imperative to the success of your overall efforts.
This crucial period of time before you sign off on diving head first into a new project is where your web solutions team should shine - they should be the guiding light when it comes to defining the project scope, delegating stakeholders to various duties and locating grey areas within your wish list. At Aware we call this crucial period of time the Discovery phase.
Sure you may already have a laundry list of “wants” and web sites you give a thumbs up and months of competitive analysis compiled, however communicating your business objectives to those who will map out your online presence will be key to uncovering what you really need. Below we have outlined what the Discovery phase will help achieve:
- Allows project goals to be defined together so interests are aligned
What is it that we are actually trying to accomplish through this web project? What aspects of your business are driving these efforts? You could be seeking a more on-brand or modernized web presence or have a need to boost sales revenue – or both. The Discovery phase allows you to work closely with your web solutions team to outline your global business objectives and make sure they align with the project goals at hand. Once you have established the “why,” then determining the destination based on broader business objectives will pave the way for a more enjoyable ride.
- Creates a more concise project roadmap
So now that you know the destination, you and your web solutions team should determine exactly how you plan to arrive there. When creating this roadmap of sorts it would be foolish to think there would never arise a time when the project would stray from its course, so it’s equally important that traffic jams are accounted for, stakeholders are appropriately assigned a leg of the journey and check points are established along the way. This creates more of a framework for the journey that eliminates confusion and allows both the client and web solutions partner the ability to adapt to and quickly overcome unforeseen issues. Without a roadmap your project will be filled with wrong turns, the stress of not knowing when you’re going to arrive and plenty of headaches.
- Gives the design team what they need to develop a content-based Information Architecture plan
Since we know the business objectives and our endpoint destination, then an Information Architecture (IA) strategy is pertinent to ensuring this journey will not need to be repeated in the near future. An IA represents how the site’s content will be organized and how your site can be navigated, keeping in mind the usability needs of your audience. A website design which is executed without first establishing such a strategy is one that you will likely be redesigning sooner rather than later. And who wants to frequently repeat such a long journey?
- Helps establishes prototypes for site functionality
Modern day web sites have grown to become much more complex than those of the past, and content management systems, e-commerce solutions, social media, and interactive multimedia each contain various moving parts that have to work together simultaneously. After your destination and roadmaps have been set and an information architecture established, then it’s important to plan how the site will function. The web solutions team puts together a prototype for the new site functionality called wireframes. These wireframes will serve as the map that provides analysts and your internal stakeholder team a basis to agree on desired functionality that can begin to be captured in written specification statements explaining the “how” behind what your site will do. Completed wireframes coupled with tightly written specification statements then provide the software engineers with a structured execution plan for the journey that will drastically reduce the chance for surprise. Wireframes also give design and development teams an established, agreed upon target – allowing them to focus on rapid execution. We often think about each aspect of a large project as a separate entity, without realizing how many unique parts will be woven together into a cohesive whole. Wireframes open up discussions that allow clients to consider the unique parts and the ability to make necessary changes in the early stages of the project.
- Assures everyone involved is on the same page
Once clients have had the chance to get to know their web solutions team and all stakeholders have verbalized the technical needs of their website, then the uncertainty of the journey will fade and everyone will feel as though they are traveling in the same direction. The Discovery phase also warms up the journey a bit and allows for a more open flow of communication throughout the project’s lifecycle when the actual project specifications will become tightened up and become the basis for the site development effort.
Giving clients the opportunity to visualize how many individual parts of a concept will harmonize early on and working to map the destination together as a team during the beginning stages of the journey will give way to a smoother ride and a finished project that will shine.
Transparency is a big thing at Aware, and you can be confident we know that in each project we are part of the larger team. Contact us today so we can help streamline your Discovery efforts!