The discovery phase of website development is the most crucial phase of the project. It ensures alignment around the goals, objectives and expectations of the project, helping us to deliver a product that helps our clients to succeed. 

During the discovery phase, the client should be encouraged to think strategically about what they want out of their website. After all, no one understands the clients business as well as they do. The more strategic planning they do and at this phase, the better chance our team of professional web designers and developers deliver a product that meets their needs, and the needs of their audience. 

Website Strategy

Our client questionnaire is designed to encourage strategic thinking, and covers the basics such as unique value proposition, key messaging, target audience, website goals and objectives, and marketing strategy. It also helps us to understand the client’s timeline expectations and understand the look and feel they desire by giving examples of websites they like. 

For E-Commerce website projects it is also important that the client understands the time involved in running an online store. In terms of business resources, we think of an e-commerce site as the same as opening an additional retail store. 

Setting Expectations: Process and Client Involvement

The discovery phase is also the best time to ensure the client understands their role in the website project process. Client involvement is two fold. Our projects are collaborative, meaning clients have plenty of opportunities throughout the process to give their feedback, and ensure we are always on the mark before moving on to the next phase of development. But client involvement is also crucial for ensuring we have everything we need to start the project, such as assets, login information, and prompt approval at each stage. Setting the expectation of the client’s obligations in the discovery phase of the project can help to avoid lengthy asset collection and approval times, which cause project bottlenecks and risk damaging the client relationship.

When we see a client’s timeline expectation not met, it is often because they do not understand the commencement of one phase depends on their approval of the previous phase. If the client understands their role in the speed of the project, they are more likely to give timely feedback and less likely to become frustrated when the project is taking longer than expected.

A Clear Project Scope Protects the Client

The discovery phase is also the best time to ensure that the client understands the scope of the project – what is included, and what is out of scope. When we set this expectation from the start, and rephrase this in terms of keeping their project within budget, we show them we are working collaboratively to stay on track, and we can also avoid the awkward conversation of out of scope billing. 


GMD Resources:

You can find our website process chart here:

Client website discovery questionnaire: