It is easy as a developer to say ‘let’s rebuild your website” but for a business, does that always make sense? You have a new business need, large or small, its something your current website doesn’t handle. Does it make sense from a business point of view to rebuild from scratch vs. adding onto your additional site.
The first thing to do, and call this “discovery” or not, is to assess what the business needs added to their existing site. How much of it is brand new compared to what is there already? Is it a logo change, or did their whole business model change? Assessing the request itself compared to what the business currently has is the best first step you can take to understanding what the work involved will be. Sometimes this is easier said then done, since you may not know all the in’s and out’s of their code. If you can, ask for a temporary admin account so you can check out the theme they have installed, as well as the (if any) plugins they have installed. These simple steps can not just help you assess whether they need a rebuild, but whether or not you should be taking on the client to begin with.
As Jesse P said, this part is also called “The Interrogation of the Business”
Side Note from Nick Adams: Ask about about their previous developers. While this doesn’t directly effect the decision you will make on rebuilding or not, it will help you assess what kind of character the client has. If they bad mouth even a mediocre developer, it may not be someone you want to work with.
If you have looked at the business and their needs, the next step will be to look at their site. There are a few things you want to look for, and this can happen during a pre-contract discovery period, or first thing once you get involved in a contract.
We didn’t get too far into the next steps after deciding to rebuild the site, saving this for a future episode. However consensus is to first look at what they have, and figure out what piece is transferring over. Roy S brought up making sure to walk through your findings with your client, sometimes there are obscure pieces of functionality they want brought over that are hidden deep in the sitemap. Also, for each piece of functionality they want brought over, make sure to talk to the client about it, maybe they think they need it, but are not getting anything out of it. An example of this might be a survey or long-type form. Many businesses love having these to assess their own clientele, however if it isn’t being used, why duplicate a non-action piece of functionality? That will only cost you time, and the client money.
“The Interrogation of the Business” – Jesse P.