Design and Discovery

  • July 16, 2019
  • Pete Whiting
  • 3 min read

by Pete Whiting


Companies often come to us with great ideas and lists of features for a web or mobile application. After providing a verbal overview or a detailed review of the written requirements of their app, the next questions are always:

  • How long will this take to build?
  • How much will it cost?

In these situations, we always recommend a Design and Discovery engagement to build a blueprint for the application. These projects offer huge benefits in a short amount of time (3 to 5 weeks). These engagements accelerate product development better than any method we know while also aligning the team to the same vision. We are convinced that design and discovery engagements are the best way to kick-off new product initiatives. Below we explain why.

Design and Discovery Projects at a Glance

First off, if you’re not familiar with design and discovery projects, here’s a quick overview of the main steps and deliverables.

  • Discovery Workshop: In this 1- to 2-day workshop, we define the application requirements and other details, such as user personas, with all the decision makers
  • Wireframes: We'll design a wireframe prototype that will outline the content areas and pages of the web or mobile application.
  • Visual Design​: Then based on the wireframes, we'll then design a couple of static pages in order to establish the visual style of the application.
  • Reviews​: Throughout the design process, there are several review points to provide feedback and make UX and UI adjustments.
  • List of User Stories: User stories are descriptions of software features that describe the user, how the code change will impact the user, and why.  This detail list of user stories along with the application visual designs enables The Gnar Company to provide a time and cost estimate to build the application.

While our design and discovery process was inspired by Google Ventures Design Sprints, it differs in timeframe and approach. Typically these engagements last 3 to 5 weeks with the output being the blueprint for our client’s web or mobile application.

The Reasons

Here are several reasons design and discovery projects are the best way to kick off a new client engagement.

  • Forces thinking about users. A key aspect of discovery is defining the attributes of your target users and user personas as well as prioritizing the users. This allows the teams to effectively discuss trade-offs and initial feature priorities for the application MVP and subsequent phases of development. These users can include both external and internal users for administrative features as well.
  • Creates a click demo. Design tools, such as InVision, enable the applications screens to be connected and clickable. This allows testing, refinement, and validation of key user flows, including on-boarding. The click demo can also be used for preliminary user testing, as well as marketing and investor presentations.
  • Enables a detailed estimate to build the application. Once the design blueprint for the application is built then detailed user stories can be written. These user stories combined with the visual designs enable us to build a detailed estimate of the time and cost to build the web or mobile application.
  • Aligns the team to a shared vision. Design and discovery phases align key decision-makers on the goals and target users for an application. The design and discovery process forces the team to work together through all of the disagreements and align on the path forward.  It may take multiple iterations, but it is critical to build alignment before development begins.

Design and Discovery Projects - The Most Efficient Way to Start

Design and Discovery projects are the most efficient and cost-effective approach to build new products. With our proven approach, we are able to build a detailed blueprint for either a web or mobile app, as well as iterate on a design prototype before writing any code. This approach not only produces better work, but it also results in a tangible application blueprint that can be referenced throughout software development. Check out this more detailed description of our design and discovery approach.

Please reach out to The Gnar Company to learn more about Design and Discovery projects to kick-off your new software product.

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