UX Design: 8 Elements of the Discovery Phase

By Kevin P. Nichols, Donald Chesnut

Part of UX For Dummies Cheat Sheet

During the discovery phase of UX (user experience) design for a website, you assess the current state of your UX, if you have one, and your competitors’ experiences. The following eight points should be part of your assessment:

  • Survey and define who your users or potential users are. Get as much information as you can about them. Look at any existing user research, consumer or customer data, and insights from user testing to gather information about who will use the experience.

  • Assess any user feedback or analytics to determine what is working and what is not working within your current experience.

  • Conduct a competitive analysis to identify the types of features and functionality you can offer your users. Find out what competitors and their users do and don’t have, and then do it better in your UX!

  • Review your existing content and figure out what you need to do with it, what types of content will tell your story, and what your competitors offer that you don’t. Use a content inventory to capture your content or that of your competitors and overlay it with an audit to assess how well the content is performing.

  • If you have a current experience, identify gaps where you could improve the experience, issues, and strengths. Use a tool, such as a heuristic assessment, to measure the performance of the UX. A heuristic assessment is a scorecard that weights what is working and what is not based on UX best practices.

  • Review your technology environment and note the constraints (such as what you have in place to deliver the experience) and the channel outputs (where it needs to live).

  • Ask those people in your organization who have a vested interest in the experience to specify their requirements. Interview brand representatives, marketing teams, product leads, legal teams, tech folks, and any other people who need to be involved with the UX and the ultimate solution.

  • Ensure that all stakeholders agree with the final list of needs, requirements, and findings from what you learn in the discovery phase.