Building a new website is a long process, especially if it’s been a while since your last redesign. There are plenty of things to worry about too, from UX to design and content to personas and goals. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know where to start. Believe it or not, this feeling can be mutual!
All the things that you worry about, the vendor worries about too. There are a lot of unknowns out there when you are starting a redesign project. I like to break these down into two types of unknowns. There are known unknowns - these are aspects of the site that you know to plan for but need to figure out the solution. The other type is unknown unknowns - these are the things that pop up out of nowhere and throw you off the path. How do you plan for these? Discovery.
While some people may find a discovery phase to be a waste of time and money, discovery is when important information is collected and goals are established. Doing a discovery engagement before the actual project can have a number of benefits that are mutually beneficial to both the client and the vendor.
Figuring Out What Your Site Needs
The first, and most obvious, aspect of this is that you can actually figure out what you need. It is oftentimes difficult to figure out the scope a project, which in return affects the quote. This is noteworthy from both ends. As an organization, you need to make sure you are getting appropriate work for a good deal. For the vendor, they are also taking a risk by providing a quote for an unknown project. They need to protect their interests too, making sure that the project comes in on time and budget. What better way to figure this out than by starting with a Discovery Engagement? With this engagement, both parties will get a better idea of what you need going further.
Figuring Out What Content To Create
One of the main things to determine during discovery is figuring out what kind of content you need to create. Depending on your last redesign and current content creation/evaluation schedule, this could be a very important part of the process. You might find that your current content works, but you also might realize that you have a lot of work ahead of you. This is good to know early on, as it could greatly affect both the goals and design of your new site, and potentially the project schedule. This ranges from making decisions on general site language, to fully rewriting text, creating new CTAs, finding new images, or even completely rebranding your site. This also affects the final scope and price of the project.
Figuring Out Your Brand And Message
Not all of the redesign needs to be UX or design related deliverables. Sometimes, you can work with a team on branding. Branding isn’t just a style either - it involves recreating the whole brand message from visuals to text. This is something that takes time, and will directly affect the outcome and direction of the site! This would require an in-depth discovery to see how the goals, styles, messages, and content of each of your sites come together.
Figuring Out Who Is Right For You
Another benefit of doing a discovery before the actual project engagement is you get to know your potential vendor. More often than not, you select a vendor for the discovery with at least some intent to work with them on the remainder of the project. Sometimes, however, this does not work out. Like figuring out the scope of the project, it’s also mutually beneficial to figure out if you are a match with your partner in website redesign. Maybe you aren’t happy with the project management or the approach or the deliverables. That might be a key sign to take the discovery information and look for a new vendor. On the other side of the coin, maybe the vendor sees certain red flags about the client that makes them not want to take this engagement further. Again, there are benefits for both parties - it’s almost like testing out the engagement before you fully commit.
Figuring Out Project Pricing
After that preliminary discovery phase, our project management and development teams work together to create a pricing document with line item tasks and a price breakdown for each piece of work. Before a real discovery or site audit takes place, all a vendor can provide you with is a guess. Vendors need to understand the variables of a project before they set a price, otherwise they’re not fully prepared to take on a new client.
Peace of Mind
In the end, if you aren’t sure, it might be a good plan to go this route. If you don’t know what you need, save time, money, and effort by starting with a discovery. It could save you some frustration, while delivering a better product with a vendor that’s right for you. If you are uneasy or unsure - try it out! I bet more companies will be receptive to the idea than you think. We definitely are!