Step 1: Discovery, Research, & Goal-Setting
Now that you’ve got the basics of web development down, we’ll look at the actual steps it takes to get your new website up and running. The first step– Discovery, Research, & Goal-Setting– will be the most involved for the client. We’ll lean on you to walk us through what you’ve tried in the past, the kinds of results you’ve gotten, and the overall vision you have for your website.
It helps if you think of web development the same way you would think about cooking a very fancy dinner. Plus, we love a good metaphor.
Imagine that you’re having several guests over for a meal, but you have no idea how to cook. You’ve eaten lots of food, and you know what tastes good, but you’re no Gordon Ramsey or Ina Garten.
Before you give up and order takeout, then put it in serving dishes, so it looks like you did all the work, there are steps that you’ll take to build the meal, including figuring out what you want to serve based on meals you’ve enjoyed in the past, the ingredients and hardware you need to get the job done, and a basic timeline of the days leading up to your dinner party.
In the same way, web development agencies work with their clients to create dinner parties, but the dinner is a fantastic website, and guests are all of the traffic you’re hoping to get from investing in your business’s online presence.
With that in mind, let’s check out the three fundamental components of the first phase in building your perfect website: Discovery, Research, & Goal Setting.
Discovery & Research
Before you whip out your wok or scrub down your spatula, you need to think about your past experiences with certain dishes. Maybe you’ve had lobster, but it wasn’t nearly as tasty as those crab cakes, or you’re gluten-sensitive, so dinner rolls are a definite no-go. Based on your personal preferences and notions of practical and attainable, you’ll create a menu that fulfills the overall goal.
The Discovery phase of the web development process works the same way. Before we can get to work coding, designing, and launching your product, both parties need to figure out the direction we’re headed and why. In doing so, we’ll align our targets before we press forward, which creates better turn-around times and results.
While you decide what you’re making, you’ll spend some time deep-diving into methods, recipes, and exemplars. In the website development process, we call this Research, and it happens right alongside Discovery.
On the client side, you can expect to spend some time gathering information, researching competing sites, and keying in on components you’ve liked on other websites. You can’t put your own spin on beef wellington if you’ve never seen one, and you certainly can’t expect a first-class website if you have no idea what your idea of a first-class website is.
We’ll work to gather resources, data, and portfolio work that fits in with your ideas on the developer side. We want to give you a range of options, accommodate your preferences, and get the job done right. NATIV3 pours tons of manhours into the Research phase because doing so helps us paint a clear picture of what we think you’re looking for.
During this phase, you can expect to answer questions like:
– Your name and title, as well as the names and titles of anyone else involved in the site planning
– Your business name, address, and phone number
– Your current web address or proposed domain name
– The basic gist of what your company is and what you do
– Flagship products, services, or campaigns that you want to focus on
– The exact kind of project you’re hoping to get. This could be anything from a mobile app to schedule virtual aesthetician appointments to a design overhaul that better represents your brand personality.
– When you expect the project to be ready for the initial launch, as well as any continuing services– SEO, content creation, ongoing maintenance, etc.– that you’re interested in
– The budget you want us to work with
– The audiences and demographics you want to reach, whether that’s targeting a current demographic better or expanding your circle
– Competitors and what sets you apart from them
– Any branding, color palette, or personality/voice nuances you want to be incorporated into the overall design. If you’re not sure yet, NATIV3 can help with that!
– How your audiences would describe your company and your current website
– Marketing and SEO services you’re interested in
– Specific pages and content you’d like to see
– Past work that’s been done, and how that work changed or did not change your business’s success online
– Any other information that can help us understand your company or cause, what you want your site to do, and your expectations for us as an agency.
You’re psyched to get started, and you can bet we’re excited too! But before you can pop those pastries in the oven, you need a clear timeline and set of goals to strive towards. You only have so much money to buy ingredients and so much kitchen space to work in, so creating limitations helps you cook within the confines of your means without unexpected hurdles.
Once Discovery is done, we have to do something with all the information. Goal Setting helps us focus our efforts in customized, highly targeted areas. In website development, a client or agency neglecting the Goal Setting phase can become a dangerous game because it leads to aimless work, constant revisions, and uncertainty.
On the other hand, celebrating and honoring the Goal Setting phase gives both teams something to look forward to and a standard finish line to assess the work done.
During this piece of the process, start to think about the following:
– What do I want out of this? Why do I want that?
– How are my past results unsatisfactory? How much do I need to grow to make them satisfactory in the short term? What about the long-term?
– What are the quantitative evaluations I want to do? For example, number of hits, number of unique visitors, backlinks, content shares, social media impressions, etc.
– What are the qualitative evaluations I want to do? You might say something like, “An overall more eye-pleasing experience,” or “A new UX that feels comfortable and on-trend with the demographic I am appealing to.”
– How soon do you expect to reach your goal?
– What about this goal makes your business, campaign, or service better?
– How will you calculate when you’ve attained the goal? Where will you go from there?
– How much time, money, and effort are you willing to put into achieving this goal?
– What challenges do you think you’ll face?
– What strengths or assets do you have that will make your goal easier to achieve?
– How much do you want to be involved in the process of attaining the goal? How much do you expect your web development agency to be involved? In other words, are you looking for a “set it and forget it” or a partnership?
There’s still much to do before you can pop the bubbly and celebrate a job well done. In reality, we haven’t even started cooking yet!
From Discovery, Research, and Goal Setting, we’ll move towards Phase II, where your web development agency partner will create a blueprint that aligns with your goals. This serves as a pre-approved foundation for the nitty-gritty work that we’ll be doing in future phases. It gives us a chance the bounce ideas around, and your team the opportunity to choose aspects you like or dislike. It’s kind of like a menu, setting up expectations for what’s going to be on each plate before you invest in the final product.
If reading this article got your gears turning on how you’d like to create or improve your business’s website, now’s the perfect time to dive into Phase I. Get in touch through our contact form, and we’ll get started handcrafting a plan based on your vision.