Key Questions to Ask During a Discovery Session

When you decide to undertake a new project, you have to start by discovering your client's ecosystem: context, activity, stakeholders, tools, their userbase, and their habits, etc.


Planning a discovery session with your client is a preliminary phase that involves researching and identifying their problems, clarifying their goals/priorities, and matching them around a shared vision of the proposed solution. It will allow you to effectively identify the universe you operate, which will help you define the userbase needs, aligning them to your client's goals.

The discovery phase's real purpose is to ask your client teams to bring their knowledge and aspirations to the table in asking the right questions: those who will lead to the exemplary information architecture, the right design, the right strategy, in few words, the right digital experience.

As designers, we will have to adopt a user-centric approach, which requires showing empathy then asking the right questions.


SHOWING EMPATHY: WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

It is a legitimate question: why show empathy and put yourself in the userbase shoes when it is possible to directly create the solution you think is better for your client?

The answer is as follows: being empathetic not only allows you to free yourself from any bias (and therefore to be as objective as possible). It will enable you to collect as much useful information as possible to design a definitive solution meeting the userbase needs, and above all, ensuring that you and your client base your agreement on a mutual understanding of what must be achieved.

You cannot expect your clients or their userbase to lay everything out on the table for you. Even the most organized clients cannot possibly present a 100% crystal-clear picture of what they need. Our role as designers is to facilitate and guide this process, focus where necessary, and avoid unproductive traps. This doesn't happen magically; one must come prepared.

The ability to ask meaningful questions is a fundamental skill that designers often overlook. A clear correlation is established between the designer's number of questions throughout the project and the finished product quality. The answers you collect will constitute the essential keys to the successful completion of the project.

It's not just about creating; it's about understanding! The answers to the questions you ask will provide the solutions to the problems you will face every step of the way. When working with clients who have a userbase, you will have to make sure you put yourself in both of their shoes to resolve any problems. It also helps to get in touch with specialists in the sector to sharpen your knowledge.

Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of 100 questions to ask your clients to understand their project and create a better user experience. These questions will help guide the conversation and keep the team focused.


QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CLIENT

To align the different actors around the project, you need to ask general questions to understand your client's company's ecosystem. Ask your client to explain their activities in detail: what are their services, what makes them different from their competitors, etc.