Good discovery leads to better results

This may sound obvious, but a good discovery phase leads to better digital solutions. It’s certainly true in our experience. But the opposite is also true: jumping straight into development or doing it under pressure or without a clear goal, rarely leads to good results.

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Discovery is the preliminary phase in the digital product delivery process that involves researching the problem space, framing the problem or problems to be solved, and gathering enough evidence and initial direction on what to do next.

With that in mind, here are five practical tips, and techniques we use at Worth to ensure our clients get the best digital solutions from our engagements with them.

1) Understand your organisation

Whether you are developing digital products in-house or along with an external partner like us, discovery should start with understanding the organisation. This means examining everything from how departments interact to internal politics, and the existing services and processes the organisation uses. It also helps to look at the competitive landscape and investigate what other organisations are doing, and how your digital service might compete with or complement it.

Also, if you can talk to all of the stakeholders for a potential product or service at this stage, you can head off potential problems that might snag the project later. This could involve identifying and communicating with departmental heads, influencers and business leaders, to get their views, as well as their buy-in.

2) Include the whole team

Understanding your organisation will enable your delivery team as a whole to focus on the goal, armed with the insights they need. This includes designers, engineers, operations and product people, as well as front-end usability testers. They should all be included in the discovery process, both to share information with, and also to gather their perspectives. This will enable them to share their expertise, discuss issues before they become problems, and get everyone on the same page before they embark on the delivery process together.

3) Conduct user research

Conducting good user research is essential, since the final product or service is designed for them. We facilitate discovery workshops with our clients’ stakeholders to understand the users, and map tasks and their journeys. A large part of the discovery phase ought to be meeting with users to understand their needs, and ensure your digital product design is user centric.

Without thorough user research, it’s possible to start a project and end up trying to solve a problem for the wrong user, or even an issue which isn’t really there. Good discovery helps you determine what the right problem is, for the right user, and how it could be solved.

4) Create interactive prototypes

We have also found it useful to design interactive prototypes to trigger the right discussions early in the process and test with real users. Again, this can give you a better level of understanding, solve problems early in the process, and lead to a higher-quality end product.

Good discovery should have the ability to loop you faster through your decision and feedback cycle. The faster you can go through that loop, the better your delivery. Interactive prototypes can help you to make good decisions early, so you can loop the fewest number of times before reaching a conclusion and progressing to the next level of development.

5) Test prior to development

Finally, we advise analysing the IT environment and identifying any technical challenges as early as possible. This enables you to come up with alternative approaches or technologies in good time. It helps ensure the people with the right skills are on board. And it reduces project risks and saves time and money in the long run.

Above all, keep the user, and the user experience, firmly in mind throughout your discovery and delivery. That way, you’re sure to stay on track.

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