Never miss a thing!

Want the best of my business and freelancing articles? Sign up and I'll deliver them straight to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Reader Interactions


  1. Great Post. Someone at the OC WP meetup recommended that I start reading your blog. What a great start. I am setting up my workflow from start to finish today using a checklist so that I give my clients the best possible experience.

    As an engineer, I call what you are referring to requirements gathering. A discovery process is a much better term. What type of artifacts do you develop as a result of your discovery process? Do you move strait to proposal or do you have an in between stage that helps set up and carve out the solution?

    • Hey Mauri,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! My process is always…uh…evolving. The deliverable from the discovery process is an document that details the scope and possible solutions enough to provide a solid quote to carry out the work. So, next stage is project quote / proposal.

      On a more complex project, the initial discovery could be requirements gathering, as you put it. From there a second discovery focused on proposed solutions would make sense.

      At the end of discovery, a client should have a detailed enough outline of their project that they could shop it out for quotes from other firms. It serves as a good “trial period” to make sure I’m a good match for the project and the client (and vice versa).

      Feel free to bring more questions or insights from your business. We all learn from each other. πŸ™‚


  2. Carrie, This is a really important topic. And it saves so much time down the road when you are designing the site that you have a very clear mandate of what to do and the look and feel of the site. Extra points are the investment thing. I am trying to do my pricing based on investment and it is really hard not to take the clients that aren’t willing to pay those prices but the ones that do make up for it. I am doing a high-end hair salon for 15,000. It was going to be half of that until I found out how much they are charging for a haircut!

    I enjoy your posts, Thanks.

  3. Hi Carrie,

    Just wrote a long comment but think it was swallowed up into some digital black hole! So I’ll keep this one short.

    Love the breakdown between cost and investment. Makes value based pricing an obvious optimal choice in situations where the website is an investment (meaning, not just non revenue producing pretty site).

    I’ve officially started incorporating Discovery into my proposals this past year — both designed time for discovery and fee for discovery.

    I was doing discovery for years — often before client and I even agree to work together — via back and forth emails that sometimes took a big chunk of time. I have since stopped that. I get a good feel for project via initial project request form and 45 minute consultation, but then designate discovery time (when needed) as part of project to flesh out all site needs, functionality, and how best to incorporate.

    It’s made a big difference in my work flow and client relationships. Now to integrate value based pricing!

    Thanks for breaking this down and making so clear!

    • Hi Yael,
      Sorry your original content was lost in the wind! Have you ever had push back from clients for officially incorporating a paid discovery into the mix? I appreciate you sharing your experience!


  4. Well, Carrie, it’s not quite as simple as “Would you invest 10K to make 120K.” What if they could invest 5K and still make 500K – wouldn’t that be better?

    I suspect that the extremes you go to in using the Genesis framework and that your experience as a developer (not just a designer) changes the payback for your clients. You probably have to charge quite a bit more than some guy in Bangladesh on Elance does when you put up a site, but when it comes time to expand or rework the site, the one you constructed on a firm foundation can be changed as needed without harming the site architecture or losing any benefits of the on page SEO that has been performed on the site.

    On the other hand, if a designer of questionable ability put up the original site, it may well be necessary to start over from square one to make needed changes, and all the previous design and SEO work that the site owner paid for goes straight into the trash can. Additionally, if someone less experienced builds the site, it may never be possible to apply as much solid SEO, costing the site owner lost prospects year in and year out. That could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business he never knew he could have had.

    • If they could invest $5K to $500K, that certainly would be better, but I’d argue their web partner severely undersold the value they brought to the table if that’s all they charged. πŸ™‚

      The idea behind my post is predicated on building a quality product versus something that “just works okay.” Even still, a great product I build today will still be out of date and need to be re-worked 2 or 3 years from now – that’s just the nature of technology. However, any insights gained by a client as to their business and customers would retain value over a longer period.

      I’m probably digressing, but it’s Friday, which translates to “Fried (brain) day.”

  5. To speed up, slow down.

    We insist that there be a discovery process and the it’s paid for. At risk of being cliche, it’s win, win. Similar to what you describe, we use Discovery, to work with our customer, usually an advertising agency or web design firms, and their clients to define the functional and technology specifications, architecture and to wireframe the proposed website. We do this before creative development, and it makes the actual production a lot more efficient. It also helps everyone stay within the budget parameters.

    • I don’t care if it is a cliche – it is a win/win. πŸ˜‰ The design and development phases are so much simpler when you have clear direction and don’t have to make guesses as you go.

      Thanks for stopping by and putting in your two cents!

  6. Thanks Carrie! Love your use of the word ‘discovery’ for the process of, well, dis-covering whats up. Aloha πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *