Image showing a part of the website discovery and website definition and discovery phase

Whether you’re building a website, app or another digital product, the process should begin with a comprehensive discovery and definition process.

This allows you and your agency to thoroughly understand the challenges and goals of your project whilst defining aspects such as project KPIs, ensuring that the entire project team has a shared vision for success.

Today, in our modern world of technology and magic merged together, it seems like the mystique around website development has somewhat dwindled, as we constantly strive for the latest shiny new thing in Tech. What was once viewed as a job which must be commissioned to the highest skilled professional is now a project that many people feel confident to take on themselves or put up on a freelancing site; hoping to find the cheapest provider. Web development has become less of a precious commodity, just when it’s being used the most.

In one way, we love that website creation is now widely accessible. There is a digital skills gap, and this needs to be plugged. However, as realists, we think it necessary to highlight that quality website development is still nuanced, contextual and a scarce resource. As technology has improved, so too have the tools, and the depth of skills of the professionals in this space, needed to deliver projects of the highest quality.

Pre-development essentials

For 93digital, it’s the pre-planning and laying of strong digital foundations, which is really the key to producing a successful website.

Discovery

As the name may suggest, this first step in the web development process is all about discovering what your website needs to achieve, who the stakeholders and end customers are, and how best to connect with them in order to produce the best performing site. You could go further and claim that this is a crucial part of defining any problem. This can be approached from two angles:

  1. Your business – Who you are, what you do, stakeholders, challenges, and goals.
  2. Your customers – Who they are, their needs, habits, thought processes, expectations, and frustrations.

The discovery process ensures that your project requirements are validated based on evidence rather than assumptions. It also allows you to look at the project from a balanced, unbiased perspective; between your business objectives and the needs and wants of your customers. Not only are existing customers analysed but prospective customers are also questioned based on how they interact with your competitors.

The discovery phase can include a number of different elements, including user research, analytics audits, SEO research, stakeholders interviews, wireframing & prototyping, competitor analysis and so on – all things which are required to lay strong strategic foundations for a project to be successful.

Once data and insights are gathered from your business and your current and prospective customers, you and your agency partners can begin to define the best path to achieving your business objectives, with the needs and expectations of your customers in mind.

Definition

The definition phase brings together all of the stakeholders to review the findings from the discovery phase. Here you can collaboratively determine and implement a research, and data-driven strategy which will detail the type of solutions that are needed, prioritise features and functionalities required on your site, the best tools and integrations to use, what the costs will be, as well as the success criteria and timescales for delivery.

Through discovery and definition, your agency partner will be able to clearly define what each step in the website development process will look like, how long they are each forecast to take and what the costs will be at each hurdle. This clearly defined strategy and project plan allows you to better budget and calculate the time and cost impact to the business, as well as manage the expectations of your customers should there be any downtime on your site.

Together, these steps help you to proactively identify risks, challenges and potential delays, prior to commencing the website development process. It also ensures that you have a thorough understanding of your customers and are confident, pre-development, that you are designing a platform that will give you guaranteed conversions.

Web development can be costly, particularly when unexpected hurdles arise. Investing the time in discovery and definition is the smartest way to ensure that your website is crafted to suit the needs of your customers, as well as the objectives of your business.

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