21st January 2020

Why discovery workshops kickstart projects in style

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Nikki Simpson

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Digging deeper

The aim for all agencies when kickstarting a project is to delve deeper into the business and the initial brief, and to gain a greater knowledge of the business’s goals, target audience, the problem that is trying to be resolved, and the general scale of the project.

Bring on the brief before the project discovery workshop

Not all heroes wear capes but those individuals in businesses that are tasked with delivering a well thought out and well written brief, are like gods to designers and developers.

A detailed, well written brief tells us about the company, the frustrations and issues they are facing, and ultimately outlines what the client is trying to achieve. When an amazingly written brief arrives on our doorstep - it’s a call for celebration (cue the team fist pumping the air)! It not only allows us to get a feel for the project, but it enables us to connect with the potential client and to understand the challenges that they and their business is facing. It gives us the space and time to scope out the project, detailing our initial understandings of what is being asked of us, and to see if we’d be a good fit for the project based on technology, skill and deadlines.

All that being said, we understand that the technical aspects of producing a brief can be daunting, we don’t expect clients to have all the solutions. That’s why we advocate setting up a discovery workshop. We find that it’s the most effective way to kickstart projects. We’ve hosted a number of sessions where initial concepts or ideas came right back to the drawing board. Agreeing on a better, more productive approach to the project in these sessions is the norm.

Project scope may flex and sometimes shrink based on the initial brief, ruling out functionality and areas of the project that may no longer be needed. This reduces or spreads the cost for the client, whilst still offering the most effective result.

Other times projects may grow because the initial brief may have sounded simple, but once correctly scoped in the discovery workshop, a number of technical complexities could come to light meaning that the project may need to scale based on these increases.

Team workshop

How do we run discovery workshops at Abstrakt?

Get ready to get your hands dirty and muck in! Our workshops are facilitated by our team, but they are very much a team sport. There are no wrong answers or thoughts and everyone has a chance to have their say. A typical workshop will span half a day if not a full day, project scale dependant, but don’t worry, we supply lunch!

The day usually begins with a review. We’ll start with running through a list of questions that have been asked to the client beforehand (yes, we make you do homework too). These questions ask them to detail their brand, any visions or goals they have for the future, who their target audience(s) is, what sets them apart and makes them unique. This is a great ice breaker exercise and it allows the entire workshop team to get an understanding for the tone of the project. It also means that any discrepancies or misconceptions can be ironed out early on in the process.

Once the opening stage has been successfully agreed upon our team will take the lead. There will be a selected group of the Abstrakt crew, perfectly formed around your project needs, and this could be made up of Designers, UX Specialists, Developers, Marketers or the Project Management team.

A clearly designed schedule will be put forward to help us run to time. These sessions can soon get out of hand! Who knew how much fun you could have, when you get deep into the detail? It’s true what they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and that's true of our workshops, they are fun, collaborative and inspiring.

Throughout the session our UX team will focus heavily upon the user needs and flow; breaking down your audience, their goals, frustrations, flow of information and the barriers that your users may be facing currently. While developers will be interested in the details surrounding functionality, integrations and the general weight and magnitude of the project, focusing primarily on the theory behind building what is being mapped out before them.

Brand Workshop Review

Our Marketeers will begin to create initial strategies around marketing your product. They will have questions regarding content, social media, email marketing and campaigns. Project Managers will be greatly focused on timelines, process and the business aspects, including budgets.

Our design team will wish to discuss the digital visual aesthetic for the project, referencing any creative the client has seen that they specifically like and don’t like, whilst the UX team will be working up an initial site structure, a v1.1 sitemap that answers the audience needs; expanding out into initial wireframes if the project budget allows. These initial rough ideas give the client a powerful sense of how their users will interact and move through their website or application.

The day will be wrapped up with a summary of all the key details outlined in the session, as these will no doubt include a great number of new discoveries that neither we or the client knew of at the start of the session. That's the exciting part; that moment when those hours are proven to be worthwhile.

In the days following the session our team will get to work creating an output discovery document that clearly states all the findings, new discoveries and project roadmap. Including the following:

  • Brand analysis - our demonstration of our understanding for your brand
  • Insights - your brand vision and goals
  • Target audience groups
  • Analysis of types of users and their motivations and goals
  • Sitemap - the architecture of the website
  • Development functionality requirements
  • Cost of the project
  • Proposed timeline

Why do we charge for discovery workshops?

As outlined above, a lot of work goes into the running of the workshop, but also the pre and post prep. Workshops are tailored to your project type, size and budget. We always advocate running discovery sessions with all clients as it's the best way to get all project stakeholders in one room! On some occasions they’ve never had the chance to do such an exercise.

The work that goes into the discovery sessions isn’t just happening on the day either, our team does a great deal of research leading upto the session, and after the session, there are a number of days spent chewing the fat and preparing the post workshop findings and actions. The amount of work poured into these sessions covers a large portion of the overall project, our team will continue to refer to the workshop findings weeks, months and sometimes years into a project. The findings become a bible to work from, paving the way to successful outcomes. It also means saving time and money in the future, as many of the unknowns within a project can be rooted out right at the start.

Lauren running worksop

So I know you’re thinking, do we need a discovery workshop?

If you know, you know. If there have been times that planning projects internally have left you or your team baffled, asking questions like, “what is the purpose of this service or product” or “Who are we selling this to?” A discovery workshop may well be the answer.

Of course our team can help you decide if a workshop is right for you and your project. We can advise on a course of action to support your project needs. Our initial scoping of a project and your brief will show where the holes are and create a clear need for a discovery session. If revisiting the brief isn’t an option for you internally or you feel you will keep coming to the same conclusion, our fresh eyes and ideas could be what you need to get the project off the ground. Workshops are extremely beneficial, they can save you money and effort in the long run whilst ultimately being enjoyable and exciting, by breathing real life into your project.

Think your project could benefit from a discovery workshop? Send us your brief and our team will be in touch to discuss your project further.

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