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Virtual Project Discovery – Adapting to a new reality

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Wattle, and our clients, have been adapting remote working practices to deliver on major digital transformation project milestones. In this article we look at how we collaborated with the UK Council for Psychotherapy to deliver a highly successful and 100% remote project discovery phase. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Wattle and our clients have been adapting remote working practices to deliver on major digital transformation project milestones.

 

Whilst we are extremely lucky to already have a cloud infrastructure that supports remote working, we’ve had to make some adjustments when it comes to defining new ways of delivering major project phases remotely.   


Delivering a Virtual Discovery Phase

The first phase of any well-planned digital transformation programme is the Discovery Exercise. Discovery forms a fundamental part of all projects and gives our team of Business Analysts, CRM Consultants, UI / UX Experts and Web Developers the opportunity to gain a critical understanding of client project requirements and deliverables:

  • Understanding organisational business requirements and culture
  • As is and To be business process mapping
  • Key design concepts, branding and creatives
  • Functional requirement specifications and information architecture
  • User personas and user journeys definition
  • Systems integration requirements


The collaborative nature of this work means that face to face 
contact is preferable across a range of workshops, technical deep dives and user interviewsLast week, however, marked our first experience delivering discovery 100% remotely with the UKCP.  

The UKCP is the UK’s leading professional body for the education, training and accreditation of psychotherapists. After selecting Wattle as the Council’s technology partner for the development of its new corporate website, the Wattle team have been hard at work gaining a critical understanding of requirements.  

Whilst the discovery process began prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, the creative and user research elements took place 100% remotely from the comfort of the combined teams home offices, bedrooms and kitchens.  


How we Adapted our Discovery Approach 

Discovery workshops traditionally run for a day at a time. In this instancewith lockdown underway, we switched to bitesize 2 hours sessions via Microsoft Teams video conference. Each session had a core set of aims and objectives. 

Session 1: Website Analysis  

The first session began with a range of market research exercises using Microsoft Teams for live video conferencing and Miro to enable everyone to contribute and add notes to a virtual whiteboard. 

To frame the session, the Wattle team conducted a live SWOT analysis, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

 

Session 2: Design and Branding 

Brand identity and personality are of huge importance when it comes to defining user journeys and user-centric website design.  

During this session, the team conducted a number of exercises across a live MicrosoftTeamsvideo conference that comprised: 

  • Position, Proposition, Personality – We used PowerPoint and a range of question points to identify the positioning and personality of the UKCP brand.  To make this a more interactive process, we asked the UKCP team to describe their organisation as cars, animals and celebrities.  
  • Competitor Analysis – We ran benchmarking exercises enabling UKCP to compare their brand performance against those they considered competitors.  
  • Websites You like  We then presented the UKCP with 10 very different websites that included features and function they previously suggested they liked. We asked the team to highlight the examples they were most drawn to and features that worked well. 

Session 3: Website Capabilities 

The final live session began with a drill down into key website capabilities. The focus was not on technology, but on defining business processesunderstanding the overall user experience and defining user journeys. This is a great way of identifying gaps within current capabilities, or factors that may have not been considered previously.  

Session 4: Validation 

The final stage of the creative discovery process was conducted by our UI/UX ExpertsThey crafted a research interview script and conducted video conference interviews with key UKCP Stakeholders, Members and Users to gain an understanding of how they used the website, and to validate the findings uncovered across other sessions.  

Virtual Delivery Recommendations

Our first venture into the fully remote world of project discovery was both a challenge and a success. If you find yourself in a similar position, we recommend the following:

 

  • Adopt a reliable video conferencing solution like Microsoft Teams. In addition to multiple on-screen attendees, Teams also enables online collaboration and document sharing with version control. 
  • Consider using visual collaboration software, like Miro, to bring remote users together for interactive whiteboarding. 
  • Where appropriate, and depending upon your audience, be prepared to use a good old-fashioned telephone and a PowerPoint presentation via a shared desktop. 
  • Keep remote sessions bitesize – we found 2-hour sessions were the most productive. 
  • Ensure you set clear aims and objectives for sessions. In our experience people tend to have a laser focus during shorter remote sessions, so you can achieve a lot in a small timeframe if adequately prepared. 
  • Be open to new ideas and approaches to help engage audiences. Our interactive branding sessions where we asked the UKCP to relate their organisation to cars, animals and celebrities was highly insightful. 

Moving Forward

 

In the coming weeks we will see the initial findings from the discovery phase turned into a working alpha prototype. This will start with a series of flat wireframes using Sketch, which will be reviewed during another 2-hourvideo conference workshop, and will be concluded with the production of a fully interactive high-fidelity protype using AxureThe UKCP team will be able to test every website interaction and user journey prior to moving into the main website build phase.  

 

To learn more about how each area of our organisation makes remote working happen, along with the tools, methodologies and process we use to make this happen, take a look at the latest on our blog.  

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