It can be easy to think about your website as an expensive must-have that you pay for upfront, use over time, then discard once it no longer serves your purpose. This thinking is not uncommon, however, it unfortunately leads to a wasteful and frustrating cycle of ongoing redevelopment projects and websites that start to quickly depreciate in value as soon as they are launched.
There is another way to think about your website. Rather than anticipating a ‘set-and-forget’ project, you can approach your website as a longer term asset that will grow in value over time. The key to achieving this type of ROI lies in laying the right foundations at the start of your project, during the initial discovery process of inquiry and exploration. It’s the initial investment in learning and synthesising those learnings in order to build what you actually need - a website that’s fit for purpose at launch, but also built to grow and change alongside the needs of your business. So how can you achieve this?
A website should be an asset that increases in value over time, not an expensive consumable that depreciates at launch.
Build what you need
If you compare the process of building a website to building a house, the best way to understand both what you need now, and what you will want in the future is to call in an architect. An architect doesn’t just get down to digging foundations. They take the necessary time to understand exactly which problems require solving and help you anticipate how your needs will change and grow in the future. In this way, should you be planning an upgrade in the future - the right foundations have already been laid to allow that to happen.
At Luminary, we believe websites should be designed to grow and change alongside your business, rather than being left behind. We follow a three-step process to achieve this kind of scalability and longevity. The first is the planning, research and discovery phase which we call Explore. This is when deep thinking and research are conducted to find out exactly what your business wants and what your users need. The second step is building the website to the blueprint that the Explore phase creates. And the final step is to grow and evolve your website as your business and the world change, rather than starting the whole process from the beginning each time.
Measure twice, cut once
The initial Explore phase in a digital project is critical to getting the foundations right. Small decisions can have big consequences down the track, so resolving every detail is the key to lasting value. Will you need more features and functionality in the future? How will the needs and expectations of your users change and develop over time? Which platform is best for the long term? Answering these questions accurately is vital to building a solution that will be solid enough to perform and last, yet nimble enough to adapt to changing needs.
If we go back to the building analogy, the ‘measure twice, cut once’ proverb summarises the key benefit of Explore perfectly. Imagine your kitchen needs to be 2.5 metres wide, but the foundations only allow for a kitchen that’s 2.4 metres wide. Suddenly the fridge doesn’t fit, the layout no longer works and you have to start making compromises and develop workarounds about how you live. Similarly, a website that isn’t built for purpose is cumbersome, frustrating and disappointing on a daily basis. It becomes something you work against, rather than a valuable tool that works for your users.
One way we ‘measure twice, cut once’ is the exploration we undertake to recommend the right choice of digital platform. For example, if personalisation is a key part of your future strategy, then ensuring the DXP or CMS you choose today can handle this, either as in-built functionality or via easy-to-integrate third-party personalisation tools, is critical.
If you get the foundations right, you can install and upgrade the features and functionality you need - rather than having to rebuild from scratch. That’s the essential benefit of a good discovery process - the ability to get maximum value from your website as soon as you launch - with the future-proof foundations to add, extend or change things around as you need. This keeps your website delivering value and ROI into the future for a much longer time than the traditional way of thinking about websites as something to be used and discarded every two years or so.
The tools of discovery
Our Explore phase is customised for every project, however, it is facilitated by a range of tools and activities we use to understand all the problems that need to be solved and take the right steps to find the optimum solutions both for your business and for your users. Even small decisions can have big consequences, so taking the time to lay the groundwork for a successful outcome creates certainty, provides the best value and helps make the experience rewarding for all stakeholders.
Our discovery activities could include:
- Immersion workshops
- Technology, content and brand audits
- Qualitative and quantitative research
- Persona development
- Customer journey mapping
- Prototyping and testing
- Design concepts and direction
- Marketing technology and CMS reviews and selection
- Technology mapping and architecture
Discovery case studies
The case studies below illustrate the power and value of the discovery process.
Reward Hospitality - Driving results by understanding people
Realising that the pathway to increasing sales was by optimising the user experience, Reward Hospitality was ready to put the customer front and centre in its digital strategy. We used a mixed-methods research approach, undertaking analytics, SEO, and qualitative and quantitative customer research evidence, to fully understand the user needs and business opportunities. This resulted in a website that better served the needs of the customers, leading to significant improvements in sales figures.
ANZIIF - Above and beyond expectation
ANZIIF is the leading professional development organisation for the insurance and finance industry in the APAC region. Going the extra mile to surpass user expectations means not just meeting current needs but anticipating future opportunities. Throughout this project, we sought to deeply understand ANZIIF member needs through research, as well as the organisation itself, its competitors and comparators. We developed user personas, and prototypes to test responses. This led to a series of iterations and extensive simplification of the site IA. The discovery process provided a detailed blueprint for development.
Weir Minerals - Empowering better decisions across the globe
Making information understandable and accessible across locations, cultures, and time zones was a challenge for this global manufacturer of mining and construction equipment. Through research and interviews across five different regions, we discovered the hidden opportunities to transform Weir’s website and authenticated portal to support its staff and meet the needs of current and future clients.
Built to grow
A website should be an asset that increases in value over time, not an expensive consumable that depreciates at launch. Taking a sensible, long-term view of your investment means a more sustainable result that performs perfectly from day one and gets even better over time. This requires some serious insight and planning upfront - which is where the discovery process comes in. At Luminary, discovery is part of our Explore phase, which is the first step we take to fully understand the needs of your business and your users - and the opportunities we have to meet them.
Because your business and your goals are unique, your website needs to be too. There is no off-the-shelf product that can meet the needs of a large organisation. But building a custom site is not going to necessarily deliver on its promise unless the hard work is done upfront to really understand and respond to the needs of your users - both now and in the future. Gathering these learnings and applying the insights to build an accurate picture of what you need and a blueprint of how to get there means that once we start building, we know that we won’t be making any mistakes - we’ll only need to make that cut once.
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