UX, or User Experience Design, is an ongoing process. Visitors change and so does your congregation or audience. Even if you love your recent conversion rates, that statistic won’t tell you how those online visitors who listened to your podcast, sermon or class experienced you.
Usability studies matter, but true visitors aren’t testing your website. They’re trying to decide whether to visit or join your congregation, or whether to hire you as the speaker at their next event. That’s why focus groups or formal evaluation produces a collection of general (often non-actionable) feedback or emotional extremes.
What is a ‘paid discovery’ session?
If you are looking for a writer, web developer or similar creative professional, ask about “paid discovery,” an in-depth research package. Paid discovery, and its deliverables, vary, and some creative businesses offer this as a stand-alone service.
The process could include exploring your website, social media and/or other digital properties, or a “mock user experience,” in which one of your team members treats the creative professional as a visitor who came to your church, synagogue, etc., because of the website. (The mock user experience is essentially a role-playing exercise, exploring how it feels to encounter your work, hire you, sign up for your mailing list or shop in your online bookstore. Any emails or automated marketing messages should be included in this user experience examination. What’s in your new membership packet, for example? If the creative professional can slip into your actual service or classroom, that’s even better.)
How can paid discovery help me?
If you hire the creative professional, and agree some or all of the project-related research was completed through the paid discovery sessions, this can reduce the cost to complete your creative project. (You’ve already paid for the research portion, normally included in the total project estimate.)
Even if you choose not to hire that creative professional for additional assignments, a paid discovery session is still beneficial. Observations about your user experience can help you tweak your own processes, information and workflows, or you can share those findings with the writer or web developer you hire in the future. Comments from a paid discovery session can include:
- the strengths and weaknesses of your existing user experience, including emotions that experience may generate.
- your brand’s consistent or inconsistent expression in its digital properties.
- gaps in the availability or digestibility of your information, whether online or printed marketing collateral.
Every paid discovery session is as unique as the business it explores. The best way to uncover what your paid discovery session will examine – and teach you about your customer experience – is to ask about potential deliverables, such as a written report, before your purchase.
Candace Schilling, publicist, offers PR Communication and Training to spiritual teachers and faith-based communities. For more inspiration as well as tips about marketing and strategic communication, check out her articles or find Candace on LinkedIn.