Research. Discovery. Two kind-of-vague words that represent processes that we know are necessary and valuable – but how do you actually conduct them in order to build a strategy and make recommendations for a large-scale project? How do you make the most of the research phase – especially when the project is new and everything feels a bit daunting?
Consider this blog series an #ad for Discovery. We find this process truly invaluable, so we’re going to walk you through exactly how we do it for our clients. This process can be adapted for pretty much any project, but today we’re looking at the discovery process specifically as it pertains to UX design.
We’ve split this guide into a three-part series: Research, Analyze, and Recommend. Let’s get started with the Research phase.
The final product has to be more than just a pretty face. We want to design a digital presence for our clients that drives them towards their ultimate goals. In the project kick off, we talk through what that looks like, taking a step back from talk of the “ugly outdated site” and instead discussing the future of their company and where they want to go. This allows us to build a digital strategy that is in line with the future milestones of the company – rather than whatever is currently on their website.
It also helps us intentionally make design decisions. For example: A client let us know that their primary goal was to establish a better user experience that made it easy for visitors to understand what the client had to offer. This became the cornerstone for the entire project. It is a specific and defined goal, but it’s also customizable.
If our client doesn’t come prepared with a defined goal, we can gather this kind of information through a “How might we” exercise, which transforms information into actionable items.
On a recent project we got a pretty open-ended ask regarding a client’s digital presence. Because the possibilities were virtually endless, we used a “how might we” exercise to narrow it down, starting with the question, “How might we reach out to our audience?” Out of that stems a whole host of follow-ups:
This exercise is twofold: first, it asks you to step away from traditional questions and bullet points, and second, it encourages innovation by calling on the entire team(s) to participate.
For this exercise, we use a Miro Board, which allows multiple users to collaborate on a visual representation of a brainstorm. While a representative of the client speaks to the problem, the rest of the audience (made up of the client’s team and Ample’s team) is thinking of “how might we” questions to address them. An organizer looks at everyone’s questions and “buckets” them into categories. These buckets become the cornerstones of the project going forward.
In what may be the most important part of the process, the stakeholder interviews serve as a chance to really get to know a client. We speak to the people who have a finger on the pulse of the company – people who know the needs, areas of weakness, and areas of success. We find out what people love on the current site and why. We ask questions about the people at the company and the customers they serve. Stakeholder interviews also help foster our relationship with our clients, allowing us a chance to get to know each other. With a basis of mutual respect and understanding, clients know that when we’re designing, we’re doing it with their needs, concerns, and expectations top of mind.
Stakeholder interviews usually go beyond the main point of contact we have with the client and extend to anyone on their team who can provide valuable insight in regards to their target market, user sales, or another facet of their process. For example, we may interview the President and VP of the company to gather their thoughts – then work with the Director of Marketing throughout the project.
See it, like it, put it on an inspo board! While we primarily use Miro for our inspiration boards, there is a huge variety of software and websites where you can compile color palettes, images, copy, and more that capture the look and feel of the project. Inspiration boards can serve as internal-only resources, or become client facing so that the client can share in the discovery process and provide their feedback.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Analyze, where we’ll discuss the value of an SEO Audit and the usefulness of user personas.
And, as always, hit us up if you want a discovery phase of your own!
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