Design the Future
January 19–20, 2016: Training
January 20–22, 2016: Conference
San Francisco, CA

Crafting the discovery phase: First steps in effective UX projects

Dan Brown (EightShapes)
9:00am Wednesday, 01/20/2016
Location: The Chapel
Average rating: ****.
(4.27, 22 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

This presentation is geared toward all designers but particularly design leads and product managers in charge of running projects.


As designers, we are tasked with tough questions every day—"Of all the information on the intranet, what should go on the home page? Which features should we prioritize to align with the market?"—but these questions often boil down to, “Should we combine products and solutions?” You can answer these questions with research, yes, but unless you understand the results in context and align the team around the direction, your project will fall apart.

Discovery is the portion of the project that incorporates research, analysis, exploration, and planning to align teams around a direction. This direction is the bedrock of subsequent design activities. It gives design teams a way to answer questions and validate their ideas; it reminds project participants what’s in scope and out of scope; and it constitutes the collective background knowledge that informs your specific product. Great discovery phases make for great projects. Dan Brown will help participants craft the perfect discovery phase.

Participants will learn:

  • The essential ingredients for any discovery phase
  • The range of discovery activities and how to choreograph them
  • The right participants for the discovery process
  • Which deliverables make the most sense in the discovery process
  • How to incorporate discovery into new projects and projects in-flight
Photo of Dan Brown

Dan Brown


In 2006, Dan Brown cofounded EightShapes, a design firm based in Washington, DC. EightShapes designs digital products and systematizes design standards for Fortune 500 clients. Most recently, Dan has conducted user research for a major networking provider, prepared user profiles for an online media company, and led the design of a web-based responsive dashboard for a software company.

Dan’s two books, Communicating Design and Designing Together, deal with communications and collaboration on design teams and are widely considered to be essential reading for UX designers. UX teams all over the world have played his game Surviving Design Projects to improve their conflict management skills.