The Importance of UX Design in Discovery

In the world of AWS cloud technology with buckets and instances, I sometimes find myself baffled by the complexity of our solution architectures we produce. But as technical as the solution may be, the reason behind why a solution is needed is fundamentally simple and you just need the right techniques and tools to help discover it.

It’s during the initial discovery phase of a project, where UX principles can really be leveraged to obtain the greatest understanding of the customers problem space and allow the customer identify real value behind a discovery session.

So, What is Discovery?

To summarise in a sentence, Discovery is a collaborative session, or series of sessions where the project team come together with stakeholders to understand the current challenges faced, and define the goal along with requirements for a solution. Outcomes off the back of discovery often include highly detailed project requirement documents with a proposed solution, timeline and cost, as well as technical requirements and tasks needed for the project.

Now, for you a discovery is a no-brainer but to your customer a discovery can often look like an unnecessary use of time and budget with little tangible outcomes.

Helping the customer experience the ‘value’ of discovery

Let’s look at stakeholder interviews. During this initial discussion around the challenges and problems faced with the current-state solution, there are a couple of techniques which will help lead the conversation to specific pain points and allow the stakeholder to feel confident you understand their situation.

Technique 1: Soliciting Deeper thought

The first technique is to pre-plan follow up, thought provoking questions to expected and common answers. Stakeholders often answer questions as simply and sharply as possible, without revealing the deeper understanding of their answers. By planning additional questions asking the stakeholder to dive more into the reasoning can often expose the real pain points they face. It’s only when you understand the deepest pain points, can you design a successful solution.

Technique 2: Listen with Empathy

Often in conversation you can listen to someone, without truly listening to what they are saying. Focus on empathy, put yourself in their shoes and try to understand how their problem or situation would make you feel, with this you may identify a cause or challenge which you hadn’t yet thought of and can accommodate for in your solution.

So, you have completed the discovery session and have gain valuable insight which you can go and takeaway to produce any documentation, but what does the customer see to give them a tangible outcome?

Creating a shared vision of the future

A good way to give a customer a tangible outcome which brings value to a discovery is through visualising your insights and understanding. A Journey Map or Service Blueprint are two methods of doing just this. Both techniques differ slightly but fundamentally highlight an understanding of journey stages, requirements and outcomes for a current or future state solution.

Giving the customer visual representation of information gained from this discovery will only benefit you and the customer ensuring a solid foundation, agreed by both parties when moving into the next phase of the project.

The Takeaway

The most important takeaway is to do your best to make the customer feel heard, understood and valued. It may sound simple but these small techniques go a long way to building that customer relationship. Really try to empathise with them, ask them those deeper open-ended questions to identify the routes of the issues they face and visualise the understanding you have of the project. By doing this you are giving the project the best chance of success at this early phase.

Danny Potter, Creative Lead at Firemind.

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