Every business needs a website or a mobile app—we all know this. The power of an online presence has been outpacing traditional marketing models for years, and there is certainly no dearth in options for how to get started.
Some businesses go for the cheap or DIY options. Sometimes it works for them.
But for established, respected businesses—or startups looking to be taken seriously—a simple out-of-the-box solution simply won’t cut it. Neither will a developer who doesn’t take the time to thoroughly understand every facet of the project at hand.
That’s where the project discovery process comes in.
Just as you wouldn’t build a house without first drawing up a blueprint, you should never go into commissioning a website or developing an app without first thoroughly discussing your project with a professional. Someone who can help fill in the blanks you may not have noticed. Whether you’re corporate, local, or a one-person powerhouse, the project discovery process will help identify your most critical needs and how your website or app will fulfill them.
Without this, there’s no guarantee for success. And you may end up wasting a whole lot of time and money fixing previously unforeseen issues down the line.
This is why we offer website specification and discovery services, and why we’ve developed a project architecture method that covers every possible facet of a potential project, from the technical to the visual to the use cases and risks you may have not thought of before.
So how does it work?
This is actually a two-part process, starting with you.
What’s The First Step?
You may be excited to jump in with both feet once you have a few good ideas rattling around in your head. Maybe you saw a competitor’s website or read about an exciting new app getting tons of press, and suddenly felt inspired to hit the gas on your project.
Let’s do this, you say. Let’s launch by the end of the month!
Whoa there. Not so fast.
Don’t get me wrong—ideas are great, and the more you have, the better. But a mere idea isn’t a substantial enough material with which to build a project’s foundation.
You need solid, confident truths: What you want to achieve with your website or app, who your intended audience is, how you want it to look, and when you (realistically) need to have it done.
Once armed with this information, you’ll be able to approach the spec process with confidence and avoid wasting everyone’s time. Especially your own.
Writing a website spec or request for proposal (RFP) isn’t impossible, even if you’re not particularly tech savvy, but it does—and should—take significant time to do it right. Again, the more thorough you are now, the less it will cost you later.
Once you’ve got a solid grasp on your truths, you’re ready to bring someone else into the mix.
The Discovery Process
Most agencies offer their own variation on this theme, from free phone consultations to intense one-on-ones you’ll have to pay for, but the end goal of the discovery process is always to take your own understanding of your project to the next level.
This often includes going over your spec with a massive proverbial magnifying glass.
It’s never easy to let someone poke holes in something you spent a lot of time on. But chances are you’re too close to your project to view it objectively. And there are likely things you haven’t realized you need to make your website or app work.
Any web agency worth their salt will know this and help you fill in the blanks.
For our part, the NPG discovery process begins with a thorough interview during which we not only discuss the project at hand, but also get to know the person behind it.
This is a partnership, after all.
And with not one, but two project managers on the case (as well as someone from the design team, if you’d like), we’re able to get the Biggest Picture, the 30,000-foot view, so we know we can lead you in the right direction.
(If you’re curious about what goes into a discovery session with NPG, click here.)
Moving Forward—And Up
At the end of the discovery process, you should have a full proposal in hand that details the entire project from start to finish, covering all of the individual moving parts, every use scenario and risk involved, and a summary of future phases, if any.
If your site or app were a human body, this would be its DNA, dictating how everything else will fall into place in the future.
So while you might not be able to launch next week or even next month, the finished product will ultimately be better than any off-the-shelf solution you could ever buy.