Why Is the Discovery Phase Important Before Ecommerce Website Development?

Setting up an Ecommerce shop online isn’t easy and comes with its own set of complications. The insane level of competition aside, your problems begin even before you’ve begun to build your website. There are numerous Ecommerce website platforms, a lot of plugins for various features and functionalities, and several design elements to consider tailored to your business needs for driving internet traffic and high conversions. There are a lot of moving parts to analyze, design, plan, and setup. These have to be done while making sure that your visitors have a good user experience 

It is important to conceptualize before spending a lot of time and money towards Ecommerce website development costs. Your website should address several factors such as understanding your user requirements, conducting competitive research, identifying the key functionalities/features of your product that you want to address, and designing according to your company’s brand. Without an understanding of these, you are bound to make frequent changes in your scope resulting in the development project exceeding the budget, missing its deadline and failing to meet the end objective. 

So it’s very important to carry out a Discovery phase before starting any development work to better understand the overall objectives and to eliminate the risks in order to make the website successful. In this article we will explain the meaning of a Discovery phase along with its importance. 

What is the Discovery Phase?

Discovery phase is a crucial stage in the Ecommerce website development project life cycle that involves collecting and analyzing information about the project including its targeted market, intended users and their needs/preferences, competitor analysis, carrying out design UX/UI, identifying the correct technology stack, and selecting the features/functionalities for your Ecommerce website ahead of the development work. 

The key objective of the Discovery phase is to get an in-depth understanding of the goals, scope, and limitation of the project. It helps get a reasonable and accurate estimate of the costs and the time it would take to execute the project. 

A Discovery phase could take one week to 2 months for completion, and is dependent on the project scope and its complexity. In addition to the time, the cost during the phase would also depend upon the hourly rate of the company carrying out the Discovery phase. Typically, Discovery phase could be up to 10% of the total project costs. 

What are the key benefits of a Discovery Phase?

The Discovery phase helps – 

  • Reduce risks as the phase focuses on getting a clear understanding of your goals and requirements. This helps the development team create reasonable and accurate estimates of time and budget. The overall cost savings from carrying out a Discovery phase can make-or-break a project’s success. 
  • Formulate a roadmap as the Discovery phase helps build a full timeline of the project with interim goals, deliverables and milestones. 
  • Build confidence in your development partner as the Discovery phase would highlight the approach that your development partner will take during execution of the project. A poor Discovery phase would help you re-evaluate your partner options before spending the entire budget with a wrong partner.

What are the key deliverables from the Discovery Phase?

Given the focus of the Discovery phase is to define the overall project, the key deliverables/outcomes from this phase are – 

  • User Personas and User Flows: These are outcomes from the business and user base understanding process that is carried out to understand the business/user better. 

    – User Personas represent your ideal customers and cover aspects such as demographics, behaviors, needs, pain points, etc. 
    – User Flows are flowcharts or diagrams that display the complete path a user takes when using a product. The flowchart starts with the user’s entry point on the product, like a registration/login, and ends with the final action or outcome, like purchasing a product. User Flows allow creations of a better user experience and helps focus development efforts keeping the same in mind.
  • Competitor analysis: This includes researching competitors and identifying competitor’s key uniqueness and limitations. Analysis of competitor’s designs and features/functionalities helps evaluate existing solutions and help you determine the niche of your future product.
  • Tech stack requirements specification: This deliverable fully describes the project, its features, suggested technology stack (custom development, Shopify, Magento, etc.), and architecture overview. This allows for course correction, if needed, before the start of the development spend.
  • UX/UI design: The visual representation of the software flow including wireframes, screens, etc. allows further clarity on the overall product. This also helps developers have a clear understanding of what is required to be coded and developed. 
  • Development plan and estimates: The end objective of the Discovery phase is to get an accurate estimate of the development timeline and budget.


A Discovery phase is an important part of the Ecommerce website development. Without a clear understanding, a lot of time and money is spent into a project that has frequent scope revisions, cost overruns, time delays, and a website completely different from your original vision / objective. 

Running a successful Shopify Ecommerce website in today’s highly competitive online environment requires a good development partner who understands your business requirements and provides a helping hand in realizing your company’s vision, achieving your growth plans and having a great user experience. If you’ve any doubts related to Ecommerce platforms and if you need assistance developing one, then feel free to talk to us here.


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