All of the best websites have one thing in common, yet it’s something that’s not necessarily visible on the surface. Any idea what it is? That’s right – they all had a really good website discovery phase.
Some of your favorite websites might have some tantalizing micro-interactions or awesome scroll effects. Ultimately though, these elements were a result of web design agencies asking their clients the right questions during the website’s discovery phase.
The website discovery phase is the first step of the website design process. This is where the client and agency collaborate to identify objectives and find a website solution that best fits their needs. This collaboration involves critical analysis and thorough research.
An organization may pursue a website design project to increase lead generation, rebrand, or increase enrollment. It is critical that the mission, vision, and goals are identified in the beginning stages of the project.
Clearly, we have a lot to talk about during the discovery phase. Here at Eri Design, we take a unique 4D approach with every project we dive into. Out of all the steps, the most critical is the discovery phase. Without a successful and thoughtful discovery phase, none of the following steps will take the right direction.
Let us break it down for you.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, we take a step back and think about the big picture. During our organization assessment, we ask the following questions:
- What does your company or organization do?
- Who is your target audience?
- What is the purpose of your website?
These seem like generic questions, but creating these discussions helps build the overarching goals of any website design project.
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Internal Site Review & Analysis
The design step is more often than not the step we want to jump right into. But before we do, we need to learn about the current state of your website – an essential for any discovery phase design process:
- What is working or not working on your website?
- Where does the site excel? Where does it fall short?
- What elements need to be prominently featured? What feedback, chatter, or buzz (if any) do you typically hear around your website?
- What colors or attributes pertain to your brand?
Internal website reviews are the process of dissecting what is and isn’t working on a website. This review process involves the analysis of Google Analytics, and technical site audits to build a better understanding of the organization’s needs.
Target Audience Assessment
By analyzing the target audience’s needs, we can strategize ways to enhance their experience on the website. These strategies can range from content creation to search engine optimization (SEO). We ask the following types of questions during our target audience assessment:
- How do you describe your brand? What about your customers?
- How will you push content once it’s published? How frequently will you update content?
- What search queries would people search for to find you on Google?
Answering these questions will help you draft the right kind of content for the right audience.
This is something that we might take the lead on, depending on how tech-savvy you and your team are:
- Do you need help setting up security measures?
- Who is hosting your current website (if you have one)?
- Where is your DNS controlled?
- Will you be performing website maintenance?
These questions are crucial to website discovery because it helps us anticipate the technical requirements needed to maintain a healthy and secure website. By addressing hosting and security, we can ensure launch will go smoothly, and that the site won’t be vulnerable once it’s up and running.
These are the baseline questions you should be asking while you outline a website redesign. But in case that wasn’t enough, here’s our starter list of questions we ask our clients during our discovery phase! In many cases, we customize the questions based on our client’s needs.
Thinking about a website redesign yourself? Let us know and we’d love to get started.
A Complete List of Website Discovery Phase Questions
- Do you recall your first impression of the website? What are your thoughts today?
- Where do you think the website fails to be effective? Where does it excel?
- When is the last time the organization when through a rebranding? Can you talk about that experience and why the brand evolved?
- Who is your core audience?
- Who are your top 5 competitors? Your local competitors?
- What are the biggest challenges facing your industry at the moment?
- Where do you want to see your organization in 5 years?
- What are your most visited pages? What pages do users stay on the longest? What pages have the highest bounce rate?
- Are there any areas of the website where users have difficulty?
- Are there any known usability issues we should be aware of right away?
- How does your audience currently engage with your organization? How do you want them to engage with you?
- Are you satisfied with the site’s current navigation? Is there anything missing from the navigation menu?
- What types of content components and widgets does your site currently offer? Are you interested in increasing functionality for more content opportunities?
- What do you like about your current CMS? Are you open to moving to a different platform?
- Do any of the content areas need to be password-protected? If so, what kind of content will be put behind password-protected areas?
- Does the website require a site search functionality??
- What other features and functionalities do you need on your site?
- Event Calendar
- Form submissions
- Online chat
- Payment Processing
- Does your website need to be ADA 508 WCAG compliant?
Does your website collect any sensitive user data such as SSN, medical data, store credit cards, etc?
- Who is responsible for content updates on the websites currently?
- Do you have a governance structure? What is the workflow for publishing new content?
- Is there a content strategy in place? Does your content tell a story?
- Are you currently using photo and video content on your website?
- When is the last time the site was audited?
- If a user were to search your industry on Google, what page would they find you on?
- What search queries would they use to find you?
- What marketing metrics are you actively tracking?
- Are you tracking conversions on your website?
- What marketing channels are you using to reach your target audience?
Maintenance & Support
- Who currently maintains your website? Are you satisfied with the maintenance?
- Where is your website hosted, and can you provide SSH access?
- Are you in need of content management training and or a website governance strategy?
Timeline and Budget
- When do you want to start work on your new website?
- When do you want it to go live?
- What is your budget for this project?