Discovery Services

Objectives

During initial project discovery (aka "Sprint 0"), we perform various research and design-related activities to achieve the following goals:

  • Understand business needs
  • Understand current/historical context
  • Understand users
  • Understand content needs
  • Understand technical needs
  • Understand testing needs
  • Understand desired high-level outcomes
  • Understand major risks and assumptions
  • Envision broad solutions/opportunities

We encourage the utilization of a "full-stack" discovery team that includes individuals who understand and can advocate for three different (sometimes competing) areas: business objectives, user needs, and technical possibilities and constraints. At a minimum, this generally requires the participation of the product owner, technical lead, and user experience lead. Early-project discovery by this team helps us identify key priorities that guide the project through its entire lifecycle. See "Research" under Design Services for more specifics about our discovery process and methods.

Outcomes

Following initial project discovery we will be ready to design and build, but discovery doesn't stop after Sprint 0. Our agile practice supports continuous learning. As we work, we make assumptions about users, their problems and possible solutions. To test these assumptions, we build small, iterative pieces of a product with the goal of learning if our assumptions are sound. In other words, we test what we design and build frequently. Ultimately, this approach teaches us whether our features are achieving the outcomes you want, for both the business and the end users.

To this end, we do not deliver a single, fixed set of design-related deliverables upfront. We work on them iteratively. We spread parallel activities like wireframing, visual design, Drupal theming, and user testing across multiple sprints so we have ample opportunities to learn. Rather than emphasizing substantial releases, we break work down into smaller pieces to afford rapid release cycles and increased user engagement. This helps the team ensure it is delivering the most value each sprint. It also allows us to quickly pivot if priorities change.

Onsite Discovery Workshop

Over the years we have found that focused, in-person discovery sessions can be extremely valuable for both team members and participating stakeholders, especially at the start of a new engagement. These collaborative work periods build trust and facilitate the development of shared understanding around the history, vision, and goals of a digital project. Onsites are also opportunities to dig deeper into particularly vexing questions and problems. Specific onsite activities vary based on project and client needs and constraints, but may include the following:

  • Agile and/or product owner training (half-day)
  • Audiences and outcomes exercise (half-day)
  • Story mapping exercise (full day)
  • User persona development (half-day)
  • Stakeholder interviews (half-day to full day)
  • Usability testing (half-day to full day)
  • Content modeling (half-day)
  • Lo-fi prototyping (half-day to full day)