design discovery


You’re starting a replacement digital project and you’re tempted to leap right into the small print . you would like to urge right to the tactical nitty-gritty, the dirty details of solving the matter …you should wait. Digital projects are long, complex, and thorny issues, where quick fixes, while they appear obvious, are rarely the simplest way forward. Discover the importance of the design and discovery phase, and why you should not skip this phase.

Whenever we start a replacement digital project, there’s always a temptation to leap right into the small print. Get right to the tactical nitty-gritty, the dirty details of solving the matter .

That’s because solving problems feels good. It’s satisfying to end the day and say “I have the skills we’re getting to do that.”

But actually, most problems aren’t solved that way. Digital projects are long, complex, and thorny issues, where quick fixes, while they appear obvious, are rarely the simplest way forward.

Unfortunately, knowing that quick tactical solutions aren’t the simplest way forward and truly deciding what to try to do about it are two very different beasts. So today, we’re getting to tackle the latter — with design and discovery.

In this post, we’re getting to cover:

  • What design and discovery actually are
  • Why the planning and discovery stages are critical to a successful digital project
  • The business case for design and discovery

Here we go!

What are design and discovery, and why should we care?

Design is way too broad an idea to define. For this post, what we’re talking about is once you follow a selected methodology or way of thinking to approach a project or problem. counting on your framework, that style approach will likely involve:

  • Understanding the matter for the business and therefore the user
  • Brainstorming many creative solutions to the matter that employment for all stakeholder
  • Trialing many these ideas as quickly as possible
  • Honing in on one concept works for everybody

In contrast, tons of projects and products don’t start this manner. Rather, they begin with an assumption about reality, and progress from there.

For example, a founder might think that they need a far better way to administer education exams, because they hate their own exam experience, and build a product to unravel that problem.

Without the planning step, the remainder of the stakeholders won’t be consulted, resulting (potentially) during a huge waste of resources because the founder learns that it’s only them who has this specific issue.

Design thinking can mitigate or erase those kinds of problems, because it focuses on understanding the truth of other relevant stakeholders, instead of assuming that reality.

Discovery, in contrast, may be a more specific subset of that style process. It’s when a UX, design, product, or project team takes time to know the business case and end users, also because the ecosystem, technical requirements, and network that a product or project will ultimately sleep in .

In short, the invention phase of a project is all about the research. It’s once you uncover what problem you’re truly trying to unravel , for whom, how they’re solving it now, and a few possible solutions for employment for everybody.


The business case for design and discovery

Because a design approach and discovery aren’t seen as mission-critical, they’re often cut from projects with disastrous consequences. That’s why both practitioners and internal teams have to be capable of building excellent business cases for design and discovery.

The fundamental argument for design and discovery from a business perspective is “spend now, save later.”

That is, if you spend money on design and discovery up front, you’ll economize down the road . Those savings happen in shorter, more productive dev cycles, better technology purchases, more successful product launches / value propositions / sales and marketing efforts, fewer iterations to succeed in a released product, and fewer scope creep because you’ve got a decent product definition.

Therefore, the business case for a design and development phase to any digital project should be focused on measuring the impact of these cost savings down the road . This might mean:

  • Taking time to review past project overruns and see what proportion it might save to deliver a project on time
  • Reviewing costly technology purchases that had low adoption. What did the initial purchase cost, and what did the new tool cost?
  • Putting a dollar figure on the slow pace of procurement once you have as poorly defined project
  • The opportunity cost of an extended development process (e.g. what other projects the team isn’t working on).

These won’t necessarily entirely justify the value of design and development. However, additionally to those quantifiable benefits, there also are numerous, more nebulous perks of getting a design and development phase:

  • Projects happen faster and teams stay focused
  • You have better buy-in thanks to a good base of consulted users

In short, a design approach combined with a discovery phase will make your project run more smoothly, probably catch on faster, and can definitely make everyone feel tons better about it at the top, increasing adoption and mitigating malicious compliance.


4 tactics to speak the value of design and discovery

Of course, not most are getting to see it this manner. Many times we’ll enter organizations with a discovery approach only to seek out out that there’s not the buy-in for a full discovery phase.

Here are our top tactics to urge the buy-in you would like.


  • Run a stakeholder workshop


This is a touch devious, but if you’re struggling to urge everyone to shop for your design and discovery plan, then a brief workshop with a couple of the known stakeholders is often a simple thanks to highlight the necessity for your process.

The idea is that many projects happen due to assumptions of reality. Therefore, a simple thanks to get buy-in is to spotlight people’s assumptions of reality to themselves. So, get everyone together and obtain them talking about the project, and their assumptions will become clear.


  • Conduct a fast bought of user testing


Oftentimes, organizations will have an answer in mind before they really define the matter. Running some guerilla user testing with a paper prototype of the answer can quickly expose some fundamental flaws within the suggested course of action.


  • Run guided user interviews


While it’s one thing to inform people their assumptions are just that — assumptions — there’s nothing quite as powerful as seeing real users struggle immensely with what you think may be a relatively walk in the park. Seeing that happen will convince even the foremost opposed stakeholder of the necessity for correct discovery.


  • Remind then that you simply don’t know their business

It might seem obvious, but if you’re in the workplace working for a replacement client, then reminding your client that you’re new the business can work wonders. It’s rare that somebody would expect you to instantly know everything, but people tend to not know what people will or won’t know. And in big organizations especially there’s such a lot of tribal knowledge it is often difficult for brand spanking new vendors just to follow the conversation, including understand what’s happening. Reminding teams of which will be extremely helpful.


Wrap up

Planning and discovery are, we believe, completely essential parts of any digital project or development . It’s once you really clearly uncover, then articulate the matter you’re solving, who you’re solving for, and a couple of good ideas for what that solution might shake out as.

It’s also the phase once you put your new solution into the context of the broader stakeholder, technology, and business process ecosystem to ascertain if it is sensible in the least .

While it’d feel expensive, design and development accelerate mistakes and wrong paths early, when it’s extremely cheap, and saves organizations from late-stage fixes and changes that are both more annoying and tons costlier to form .

The point of any product, solutions, project, or maybe business transformation is to maneuver a corporation from a current state to a perfect state. Design and discovery is all about understanding where you’re now, where you’re going, and who’s going with you.

Because it is often easier to urge somewhere if you recognize where you’re ranging from and you recognize where you’re going.