What is the discovery phase of a project? Imagine hiring an employee without knowing what tasks he needs to perform, what you would be paying him/her and the reason you are employing him. You’d never do that would you? Similarly, when you take up a project, you need to go through the discovery phase.

What is the Discovery Phase?

Discovery phase is the time you take to understand and analyze the project that you are about to invest your time, effort and money into. It helps to reduce failure and ensures that you maximize the potential of the idea. Basically, the discovery phase is where you conduct all the research and plan your entire digital project, as well as understand the stakeholders and the needs of the end customers. This phase helps to reveal the real pain points that you might face while developing the project and understand the how and why. 

Develop a blueprint of your project – outline a project goal statement that includes the exact outcome of the project. You can jot down the following outcomes:

  • Major milestones of the project
  • Cost estimated
  • Functional requirements
  • Potential visual designs
  • Information architecture that explains how the content should be displayed

Basic Steps of the Discovery Phase

Data analytics
Learn about the user habits and go through the analytics of a similar project that is conducted. Look at the areas where the users drop off and the pages of high and low traffic. Try and understand why these problems are occurring and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes while developing your project.

Audience poll
Understanding what the users want is the key to creating a successful end product. Users can be categorized in age groups, demographics and backgrounds. They all have different needs and wants out of the end product. You can either plan your project so that its applicable to all users or focus on a certain type of users and base your project around that.

Map the journey
Making a plan on the whiteboard is never waste of time. Jotting down the steps and different stages of the project is of key importance. Ensure that when you map your journey, you give enough time for any hiccups that might occur while planning the project.

Questions to be Asked during the Discovery Phase

What are the business needs?
Imagine you are awarded a project that needs to see the light of day. The first step is to identify the stakeholder. Once you identify them, don’t assume that they are going to come with their exact needs. You will need to ask them the following questions:

  • Who their target audience is?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What the current website content is?
  • How is the content structured? 
  • What is the performance indicator and how are we going to measure it?

What are the user needs?

As mentioned before, determining user needs has a detrimental effect on the finished product. In the discovery phase, you are expected to conduct surveys, expert reviews, speak to focus groups to gather user needs.
You can ask questions such as:

  • Why do the users want to use the service or website?
  • What sort of users are you going to have?
  • What is the user’s journey while using the product going to be?

Consequences of Skipping the Discovery Phase

So, what if you plan to skip the discovery phase? What happens then?
Your guesses can go off the mark and you cannot give accurate estimates. You might have to make a “best guess” approach which might go amiss.
The costing is likely to increase if a certain functionality or content does not produce the results as expected. This would increase the overall timeline and efforts for the project.
New or different technologies cannot be put to use if there is no expert advice taken or any research done. This could mean the loss of opportunities to explore ideas.


 As the old saying goes, “It is always better to be safe than sorry!” Getting the discovery phase right is crucial in creating a successful project. It defines the problem space, and sets the parameters for what that service is trying to achieve. The customer satisfaction at the end of the project will heighten the chances of bagging more projects in the future. They may not know the endless meetings and diagrams that were made at the beginning of the project but they will be satisfied with the end product from the get-go. So why not limit the risks to failure by just putting in a little more effort before you start the project? Think about it!

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