If you’ve either started, or are thinking about launching a new website for your business, then kicking off with a period of discovery is crucial to gather the requirements and opinions of your different user groups.
There are lots of techniques available at the requirements gathering stage, from phone and in-person interviews to online surveys. However, when it comes to big-ticket projects, running workshops is an important way to get buy-in from stakeholders in and outside of your organisation.
Ruth, our in-house UX Strategist, takes our questions on what to expect from a user experience workshop, what they achieve and how to get the most out of the findings.
Previous articles in this series include our Managing Director Liam Giles discussing the cost of a new website and Senior Account Manager, Luke Cardy, on things to consider before approaching us for a project.
What is user experience?
User experience (UX) in the context of website production is the design and development of user-centric websites that create engaging and useful experiences for customers, leading them to take desired or profitable action on the website.
Discovery workshops are an important tool for providing a forum to gather valuable information on the requirements of the website’s target audience. The goal of a UX workshop is to put the user at the forefront of the project, whether they are external audiences such as customers or service users, or internal stakeholders who maintain and update the website.
What is a discovery workshop?
Discovery workshops usually consist of a series of activities, tasks and discussions designed to get people to feedback on the current website and identify needs for a new website. They are a great way to engage customers and staff in website re-design/development and don't have to be lengthy- starting at 2-3 hours per workshop to fit in with people’s busy schedules.
The goal of the workshop is to understand the needs of different stakeholders better, get insights into their experiences, and work out how the website can better serve them.
Why are discovery workshops important?
All our projects start with a kick-off brief, but even the most productive project meeting won’t identify all the audiences and their needs. Workshops enable clients to learn things that might not have been recognised at the beginning. For example, you might think you know what your users need from your new website but they could have different ideas.
This video demonstrates this point pretty neatly.
What does a discovery workshop cover?
The topics that are covered in a discovery workshop, and the weight that’s given to each topic in the workshop, depends on the needs and requirements of the project and can include:
- Goal setting
- Experience mapping
- Website review
- Audience personas
- User journey mapping
- Competitor analysis
- Site mapping
Who should be involved in a discovery workshop?
Stakeholders are broadly internal or external. Internal stakeholders usually represent a mix of staff from across an organisation with different levels of seniority and interest in the website. External stakeholders are typically customers or service users, but can also include other audiences such as corporate partners and sponsors.
Workshops are the perfect way to actively involve customers or clients in a new website project and have many, invaluable benefits. Not only can your customers provide first-hand feedback on their needs for the website, but they will also have knowledge and experience of your target audience that your project will benefit from.
Similarly, it’s important to capture the needs of the staff, especially those who maintain and update the website. Involving a range of roles, from customer-facing staff to senior managers, is also a great opportunity to tap into their wealth of knowledge of customers and the sector. Workshops carefully designed with exercises and tasks will get them thinking about users’ needs and draw out valuable knowledge.
What happens after the discovery workshops?
The outcome is a discovery blueprint report which analyses the research findings and moulds them into actionable recommendations. For example, I’ve often found that customers or service users identify clear needs in the workshops that weren’t identified in the brief. These findings are gold dust and lead into discussions around features or functionalities which will address their needs and provide an enjoyable experience. Once the outputs are agreed, the findings of the research will inform the rest of the project delivery, from design to development.
Interested in learning more about our workshops? Get in touch with one of our experts today.