Website Discovery: Best Practices for developing an effective website discovery session
Do you have a website or are you considering building one? If so, you need to consider having a website discovery session. A website discovery session is an opportunity for you to review your website or web project goals and objectives, find potential opportunities for improvement, and create a plan for the future. The goal of a website discovery session is to provide a better understanding of the project objectives and requirements, and identify any potential issues or risks. It also helps define the scope of the project and develop a timeline for its completion.
Here are a few best practices to help you get the most out of your website discovery session:
- Establish clear objectives: Before the website discovery session begins, make sure you have a clear understanding of your goals and objectives. This will help ensure that the session is focused on the right topics.
- Create an agenda: Create an agenda for the session that will help keep the discussion on track and ensure that all of the necessary topics are covered.
- Invite the right people: Invite the right people to the session. This includes anyone who has a stake in the project, such as decision makers, subject matter experts, and stakeholders.
- Ask the right questions. (see the following list of questions).
- Provide the document to the client 1-week ahead of the discovery session. This will allow the client to prepare their responses to the questions ahead of time so that you can get the most out of the session.
- Conduct the session. Allow at least 4-hours for this.
- Provide a follow-up document to the client that highlights the: learnings, the recommended approach for design, the solutions for the required functionality, the project timelines and the budget.
The Website Discovery session should seek to define and understand the following:
- The corporate brand standards and guidelines. Does the client currently have brand guidelines or standards? This document will provide direction for colours, fonts, tone, photography style for the new website. If no guidelines exists, this is your chance to develop this document for the client, which will be provide a set of guidelines to ensure brand consistency and cohesiveness across all internal and external mediums: print & digital.
- Tone of Voice: What tone will the new website have? The tone should match the brand’s tone. You may want to ask a few simple questions from the client, such as : having them write down words or phrases that they feel best reflects the tone of voice of the company or organization.
- Seek to understand the overall digital strategy & goals, for the both the short and long-term: What does the website need to do, ie: Generate leads, sell product or services, be a source of trusted industry information and education, be a brochure site that highlights the company, services and products.
- Clarify and understand the Primary and Secondary website audiences and write personas for each of these groups, ie: their demographics, their needs & goals, their behavious and their motivations. This information will aid in the development of the sitemap, the navigation, the Home page structure and layout and the content hierarchy and content requirements.
- Review and understand the competitive websites: What are they doing well, how can you improve upon their offering.
- Consider conducting 1-2 user group sessions to help to determine the User Experience that best meets the goals and needs of these various user groups.
- Identify all of the required site functionality and how this will be accomplished, ie: E-Commerce, Members-only content, Social Media integration, Multi-language, Blog, Events & Calendar, etc.
- Identify all content types, ie: Text, video, photography, Events, Blog, Articles, FAQ’s, Surveys, Podcasts, PDF’s Word and Powerpoint documents.
- Understand what content will be regularly updated and or edited and seek to understand the level of skill of your client to be able to manage this task on their own.
- Identify key deliverables, milestones and tasks and stakeholders that will keep you on budget and on time.