Discovery lies at the heart of every Fastspot project -- here are some of the unique activities that help us get under the surface.

Clients come to Fastspot for our talent and experience in strategy, design and development, and we’re always happy to talk about those things. But our most important skill may be one that’s more rarely requested: listening. All of our projects begin with a Discovery period that’s customized to the particular needs, priorities, and culture of the institution or organization that we’re working with. Some activities take place face to face, while others are remote. Some are carefully structured, and others are more free form. The common thread is that all of this work allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the culture of the organization.

These are some of the exercises that we draw on for discovery.

Brand Voice

This is a fun, get-out-of-your-seat activity that helps us learn more about what your brand voice looks like (modern? minimal?), sounds like (who would be your spokesperson?), and feels like (soft like a kitten? YES, this actually was suggested once!). Anything goes in this activity. In fact, the more “out there,” the better.


Inspired by Donna Lichaw’s storymapping workshop, we work through all the key story points in the target audience lifecycle. As a group, we talk about the kind of events that may take place at every step in the process. This gives us great insight into a user’s journey through the website.

WhoDo + Empathy Mapping

We take a few pages from the Gamestorming playbook when we make a hybrid of the WhoDo and Empathy Mapping activities. We consider this rapid persona prototyping, where we get a chance to dig into each target audience, who they are, what they might be feeling, what they need, and what they want to accomplish. We tweak it often, depending on the amount of time, space, and people in the room. This is always an incredibly fun and useful activity.

Audience Focus Group

There’s no substitute for getting feedback directly from key users, and we use focus groups to accomplish this. Whether with students, museum visitors, or ticket holders, focus groups ensure that we’re hearing the real story. We learn so much about how they feel about the institution, how it differs from their expectations (for better or for worse), and how the website could better serve their needs.


We frequently deploy surveys to key audience groups that we would like to learn more about. These surveys are easy for our participants to complete and useful for gathering information to support the redesign. Surveys can also perform dual duty as a screeners to source interview participants for a more in-depth conversation later on.


One-on-one interviews are one of the most insightful forms of information gathering available. By speaking directly to target audience members, we can learn what’s going on under the surface. There’s much more space to play in a conversation versus checking off boxes on a survey. We are never not surprised by what we learn.


We like to capture all of our findings into a document that acts as a useful resource throughout the lifecycle of the project. We look for patterns and emerging themes that we heard or saw over and over. The synthesis of these findings acts as our marching orders for the future phases of the project.

The Discovery Phase is a very exploratory phase of our process. It involves curiosity, play, experimentation, and an open mind. It prepares us for the more tactical Strategy Phase, which involves clear recommendations and a custom approach to the entire project, focusing in on the needs of the key target audiences. But in the value of the cultural connection formed during Discovery can’t be overstated. We get excited together about what’s possible, as we create opportunities to understand every perspective. And once that happens, the sky is pretty much the limit.

Share on Twitter or Facebook Published April 1st 2016