22 Apr 2015

Starting every journey with a voyage of discovery

If you've read our posts about our process, and why agile is a great way to work, you'll know that Everywhere is self-aware and analytical.

Never locking ourselves into a ‘tried and tested formula', we've assessed and tweaked the way we work constantly, to make sure that everything's always working efficiently and effectively for both our clients and for us.

Looking back at our early days, we'd receive a client brief and then have very limited contact with them while we worked up our ideas. Today we're holding our hands up and saying: we realise how wrong this was. Why? Because the first few weeks of a project are SO key to successful delivery that as much time as possible should be spent with the client, not away from them.

What we've discovered we just can't live without is our Discovery phase. This is hands-down fundamental to the success of all Everywhere projects.

We've detailed the remit of the studio's Discovery phase in our process post. But to summarise, this phase covers everything involved with fully absorbing the brief and going deep to define the full scope of the project, which is then laid out in the product backlog for managing both the process and expectations.

It's through Discovery that we gain valuable insights, getting a real handle on the client's business objectives and its customers needs. We talk to our clients — and listen. They know their business inside and out, and without getting to grips with that knowledge, we can't bring our expertise to their current business problem. It's the output of our understanding of all this that leads to the creation of user scenarios, informs prototyping, and creates a scope of work. And it's when we define the success criteria of the work ahead of us, having lost our assumptions and discovered things the client maybe didn't think about sharing before.

So this phase is in truth about collaboration — not isolation — both with our clients and with our team. Because absolutely everyone at Everywhere who touches the project should be fully conversant in that brief and its business objectives — and the look of success within it.

'A bit of real-world experience is always useful to exemplify these things, so we thought we'd share key benefits of the Discovery phase of three recent projects. We've found that because every project is different, there's always something new to take away from this first stage.


Discovery phase: 3 weeks

Lowdown: Discovery for Framework was incredibly rapid, creating working prototypes for new digital tools in a short time frames to test their viability and move into full development cycles.

Our own discovery: This project revealed that more time spent with the client reviewing, refining and agreeing on the user stories and success criteria directly correlates with time spent more efficiently in the studio. An added benefit is very limited feedback after the demos.


Discovery phase: 2 weeks

Lowdown: Revealing the depth and complexity of the content that Brookes wanted to share with it's audience, this Discovery phase started conversations around how this could best be achieved.

Our own discovery: Content strategy being established early on is essential for a content-heavy project like this — and Discovery is essential for doing that. In this case, every visitor needed a good understanding of the Brookes history regardless of how they'd go on to curate their experience — and regardless of age, background and web competency.


Discovery phase: 1 week

Lowdown: The workshop for 400's Discovery phase allowed us all to start thinking more broadly about how it communicates as a business. The vision, goals and key objectives from then on focused on business strategy, whereas the original brief had been about design considerations.

Our own discovery: We learnt while discussing the brief's original goals with 400, that some of them had to change. It emphasised that working together in this way provokes different ideas and thoughts, and we saw more than ever that in this early phase it's good to challenge the client's assumptions.