Web Design and Development Series – Phase 1: Discovery

team of web developers at work

This article is the first of a four-part series focusing on the web design and development process.

73% of companies invest time and resources in web design to develop a unique identity from competitors. To achieve this purpose, hiring a web design agency is one of the best decisions you can make when it comes to establishing a vibrant online presence. Building a professional website is a complex task that requires a lot of input from both you and the developing company. To simplify the process, the project is usually subdivided into four achievable phases. In this post, we will discuss the discovery phase of web development, what to expect, and how to oversee it and ensure it runs smoothly. The web design discovery phase is the initial engagement, where you sit down with the developers to explain what you have in mind. It is the foundation of the entire process, so it needs to be taken seriously to ensure an effective development campaign. 

Understanding the Discovery Phase

You could compare web development to building a house. If you build a weak foundation, the whole house will be unstable. Similarly, the web design discovery phase, which is the foundation of your web design project, is undoubtedly crucial. It involves meeting with the agency project managers and technical team, among other key contributors, to discuss everything that is to come. This means delineating your business goals, design ideas, user experience, and competition, to name a few.

What To Expect

A typical meeting involves the agency representatives asking you a series of questions to understand your vision so they can deliver on your objectives. The answers you give will help them understand what needs to be done so they can plan your campaign. They will want to know:

  • Your voice and brand. 
  • Your culture and feelings
  • The target customer and demographics
  • What already exists pertaining to tools, systems, and the gap to fill

To understand these details, the agency will ask you questions throughout the web design discovery process. These include:

  • What do you hope to achieve with this project?
  • What timeline are you comfortable with?
  • Who are you targeting, and what do they expect?
  • What is your scope of work and budget for the complete initial web design?
  • Do you want us to carry out routine maintenance and updates?
  • Do you want us to be in charge of content creation for the website?
  • What are your brand colors, and how do they relate to your product and market?
  • What level of security measures do you require? 

Upon answering these questions thoroughly, you will put your developer in a better position to balance both their goals and yours to deliver the perfect website. They will be able to tailor their efforts to meet your goals and satisfy your customers. 

Tips To Ensure the Success of the Discovery Phase

Remember that the web design discovery phase is the backbone of the entire project for years to come. It is your idea and project, so at this juncture, you run the show. Adequate preparation can not be overstated. Here are a few tips to help you stage a successful discovery phase of web development.

  • About 90% of users continue shopping because they’ve had a great UX experience. As such, be thorough when analyzing customer needs and expectations because business revolves around solving their problems. 
  • Take key stakeholders and employees along — the agency will bring some representatives from different departments, and you should also have company. Some of your staff might be able to answer some technical questions better than you. But not to worry if you are going solo on a completely new project. 
  • It is a good idea to talk to users beforehand. The mission is to build a website that will give your users the best experience, so if you can talk to some existing customers to air their opinions and point out some preferences, that would be great. 
  • Make sure that all the stakeholders from both sides are satisfied by the proceedings of the web design discovery phase. If any executive is unhappy with a particular section, revisit the issue until everyone is okay.
  • An adequate agency will just use your answers from the discovery phase web design to build a website. However, the perfect agency will build not just what you want but what you need. During this phase, they will hopefully air their professional concerns and opinions on each section so that you can discuss each issue further and come up with the best solutions for your site. 
  • If you are not comfortable with the findings of the discovery phase by the end of it all, this might be a red flag that the company might not be the best for you. In such a case, consider looking for another agency.

The Importance of the Discovery Phase

Couple enjoying shopping online

If you were to build a site without going through the web design discovery phase, you would risk creating a site that brings poor results. Sites that load slowly cause about $2.6 billion in losses every year. Here are the key benefits of the discovery phase of web development. 

  • It brings a better understanding of the budget, breaking it down to ensure everything is accounted for and that you will be comfortable with the final cost. 
  • It helps you target the right market and customers for your products
  • It sets you on the right path to ensure your website reflects your brand identity
  • It reduces the possibility of mistakes that could later cost a lot to fix
  • It helps develop a common mission to bring out the best of your website
  • Discussing the strengths and weaknesses of potential competitors gives you a chance to beat them
  • It defines the technicality of the project, including design, technology to be used, mobile responsiveness, and more

A successful web design discovery phase leaves everyone from both sides comfortable with the design, timeline, budget, and other key determiners of a smooth project. You simply can’t afford to enter the second phase if you did not have a successful initial phase. As such, you and your team should be keen to conduct extensive research before the sitting so you will have in-depth answers to all questions put before you during the discovery phase of web development.

In the next part of our Web Design and Development Series, we’ll talk about how to ensure a smooth design process for you and your business.