Discovery on a Budget
As a user experience designer, one of the things that excites me the most is sitting down with a client to define the problems they are solving for. Understanding why greatly shapes what and how.
For smaller web projects and blogs, often driven by tight budgets and great urgency, the importance of proper project discovery is easily overlooked.
When delivering right is equally as important as delivering fast, I love doing collaborative discovery and information architecture sessions with clients and team-mates.
The working sessions offer great benefits to designers and clients alike; designers get first hand experience with actual pain-points, and clients have direct impact on solutions as they are developed. Business owners are required, prior web experience is not.
A shared vocabulary
In the working-session critical business problems are discussed, needs prioritized, navigation materializes on post-it notes, and badly sketched wireframes take shape on white-boards. Menus can be tested on the fly, and nothing is quite as cathartic as erasing troublesome content-modules the second they bother somebody. Post-it notes in the trash, white-board erased, and we move on.
A shared vocabulary evolves naturally, covering requirements, priorities, navigation schemes, what wireframes are and how to read them. Industry standard terms are very useful , but if “Blog-Roll” feels awkward to a client, why not call it “Influence’s Corner”?
The shared vocabulary ensures we all move forward with the same understanding and intent, and I deliver structural documentation with notations by the end of the day.
A well executed discovery session will save time and effort as the project progresses, as it grounds design and development in clear project goals. And it encourages continuous iteration -all collaborators understand the goals of the project, suggestions are easily measured against goals and priorities, and incorporated if they hit the mark.