The most frequently-questioned line item in our estimates and proposals is the one labeled “discovery.” And fair enough: when a client has submitted a thorough RFP, what’s the use of this vaguely labeled “discovery” item? Why not just apply that budget to something more exciting? And yet despite all the push-back, we continue to build both a discovery budget into our custom website development projects, and a discovery period into the schedule. Here’s why…
How the Discovery Process Aids Custom Website Development:
When you go to the doctor with a list of symptoms, your doctor will rarely take your word on everything and just write you a prescription to cure all your ailments. They are going to do a full exam, and possibly figure out that your aching knee is related to an issue beyond the yard work you did this weekend. Not only does the average person not have the medical training to self-diagnose, it’s also entirely unethical for a doctor to just hand out prescriptions.
And although we’re not facing medical malpractice suits, Knectar feels the same way. Most new website project clients that come our way go well beyond the basic SquareSpace template website that goes up in a few days; they’re looking for custom solutions. And it’s unrealistic to think that the person drafting the RFP knows the answers to all the technical questions that Knectar will be answering during the process of the site build.
Awesome. I get it. But what happens during the discovery process?
Every custom website development project should have a discovery process. And every discovery process starts with a review of the RFP requirements, and at least one or two conversations with the main stakeholders on the client side. What do you like about your current site, if it exists? What do you hate? What does the new site need to be accomplishing, not only from a technical standpoint but from a marketing and branding perspective? What third party services need to be integrated, now or in the future? How many people are using the site, and does there need to be a publishing workflow involving multiple parties?
And so on. The questions are nearly endless, but we promise that our project managers can get you through them with minimal pain. And we can almost guarantee that 90% of the questions will be things that were missed in the RFP and internal scoping of the project.
So is there a deliverable?
By far the most important part of the discovery process is what comes out of it: the specifications document. The specifications document provides a blueprint for the site development. We are so well-known for our discovery and spec’ing process that we are frequently contacted by clients who have internal development teams who will build the product, but need the benefit of our discovery and spec’ing expertise so that they know what they are building.
The effort spent in the discovery process will pay off in droves as the site works for your team for years into the future.