#eCommerce, #Web Development

Why a Discovery Phase Is Important

May 16, 2014

When you want to embark on a major website development project for your business, you will be faced with several critical decisions. You may decide to write down all your design specifications and then search for a web development agency. This may look like a fast and effective option.

On the other hand, you may choose to adopt a collaborative approach which allows you to team up with a web design project management team. Then you can work through significant phases of the project with professionals – from conception to deployment. Even though this second approach may appear slow at the beginning. It is the only practicable means of ensuring that your web development efforts don’t end up as a failed experiment. Here are some of the vital reasons why investing in detailed planning at the discovery stage is the most profitable and rewarding route to take.

Formal Research Provides Strategic Direction

Your website should help you achieve specific strategic business objectives. It should act as a bridge that can connect your brand, products, and services to a global audience. But only a thorough understanding of the relationship between your corporate marketing goals and the vital website design features (that can help you achieve these goals) will make the web design project truly successful. For example, if one of your strategic goals is to raise sales by 25% annually. Then your website will need to be designed in a way that will bring the conversions which will result in the desired increase in sales. This relationship between the website design and achievement of corporate objectives can only be properly established during detailed research and planning at the discovery phase.

Discovery and Planning Creates A Framework for Managing Resources

This essence of detailed planning and web development project management is to establish a framework for managing resources such as time, money, and energy. Every web design project has unique specifications, objectives and scope. Therefore, we don’t adopt a cookie cutter approach to every web design project. It is during the discovery phase that we collaborate with you to uncover the most important needs that should be met within the constraints of your budget and expected completion date. Then we choose the most appropriate methods and techniques to manage the website development project effectively.

Only Feasible Results are Pursued

Every well defined project has a budget. This budget usually forms the basis for our planning. After you tell us what your project budget is, we device a strategy for allocating the resources between research, design, coding and testing. In the process, some of the features you feel are very important to the design may miss the initial release but they will still be incorporated into the subsequent upgrades of the website.

So instead of struggling to accommodate features and design elements that are desirable but not absolutely essential, we will both agree at the discovery phase on a focused plan and flexible development strategy that will lead us to develop a website that can adapt and grow with your business. This is just an example of what may need to be done to ensure that your web development project is completed on schedule without breaking the budget.

Unfortunately, when business owners avoid the discovery phase, they almost always end up with a project that requires several budget reviews mid-way into the project. And the reviews end up increasing the cost of the website without necessarily bringing in a higher return on investment. The capacity to complete the project within budgetary limits is developed during the discovery phase.

Success is Enhanced through User-centric Design

A successful business website must meet the needs of the users. It is only when your website offers its users a great experience that they will come back and recommend the website to others. Therefore, the external and internal users must be at the center of the web development plan. During the discovery phase, all the characteristics, needs, desires, and aspirations of the target users of the website are carefully researched and documented. This will lead to a deeper understanding of the way a typical user of the website will respond to different design features. This understanding will also help us to keep the user in focus as we proceed through other phases of development.

Development of Long-Term Partnerships

We treat all our web development clients as partners. This is because we know that successful web development is not a product of the one time agency-client relationship. It can only be achieved by long-term partnership. For your web development project to be successful, we need to collaborate with you and discover what will help you fulfill your main business goals within your current financial capacity. Then we can create a strategy that will allow other important features to be added as your business expands.

This collaboration is made possible by the team of professionals that work in the web development team. Stakeholders in your company will work with our experienced team of web designers, programmers and strategists to form a vibrant and effective project management team. As partners, we will both fully understand the objectives of the project. Then we will define the metrics that will be used to measure and analyze the performance of the website after deployment.

Discovery Establishes a Strong Foundation for Development

The main purpose of this vital discovery phase is to provide a strong foundation for the growth of your website as your business evolves. No business owner wants to have a website that will not be able to adapt to rapidly evolving technology and new demands from users. During the discovery phase, a detailed plan that will form the basis for other development phases will be established. This plan will also include a well written project management strategy with details on costs, completion times, milestones, deliverables, and several other important project management documents. There will be no room for any ambiguous issues or gray areas. In fact, after the discovery phase everyone involved in the project will have a clear picture of the final outcome.

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