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The Messenger Office, One Ash, Loughborough Road
Quorn, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 8UE

We provide sustainable content strategy services on behalf of digital agencies and directly to business clients.

Digital Service Discovery Phase

Our user-centred, agile Discovery activities and outputs follow the UK Government's Service Design Manual so you can meet their Digital by Default Service Standards.


user research Discovery Phases for WEBSITEs & DIGITAL SERVICEs

The essential foundation for your digital service.



  • challenge and validate your assumptions with an expert outsider's perspective

  • specialists in GDS-style Discoveries for public organisations to meet GDS's Digital by Default Standard

  • a very competitive fixed price and easy to procure through the Digital Marketplace

  • an intensive exploration of the user needs, organisation goals, tech and content requirements

  • reveal the true potential of your service

  • better understand the true scope, effort, cost and risks before building anything

OUR Discovery projects

In the last four years we have run successful Discovery phases for the National Transport Survey, UK Research and Innovation, THINK! (road safety campaign) website, the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse website, NHS England website and social media, The RAF website, National Crime Agency website, National School of Healthcare Sciences (part of Health Education England) online learning portfolio, Department of Health (various websites and digital services), and Skills for Care's workforce intelligence service.

Lagom's approach to Discovery

We're aren't just another big supplier going through the motions to win a big build and ongoing support contract. Instead we are passionate about the enormous value of a properly run Discovery phase as the foundation for any successful new or redesigned digital service or website:



We champion the end user throughout to ensure they get what they need from a service. We continuously consult with users to understand their needs, context, motivations, and behaviour.


We've been prioritising, hypothesising, validating, and iterating our way through digital projects for years. And we prefer insightful, quick, lean outputs over polished deliverables every time.


We learn the lessons from your current content to make smarter recommendations for producing and sustaining quality content throughout the service's life-cycle.


We bring together cross-discipline project teams and end users to all contribute to the Discovery process. We come to you and share our skills, experience, and methods with your in-house team.

Scientific rigour

With our science research backgound, we use rigorous statistical analysis techniques to confidently draw out accurate insights, conclusions and recommendations from the data.


We work with you to define what success looks like for your service to develop and benchmark KPIs so everyone is clear how the service will be evaluated later in its life-cycle.

FULL transparenCY

You'll always know what is going on and when you're needed with our collaborative, online project tools including Trello and Basecamp.

our UNDIVIDED attention

We only commit to one major project at a time to ensure your Discovery gets the full focus it needs.


We don't run Discoveries to win lucrative Alpha and Beta build projects. We may help you to discover that the presumed service isn't even required.

Lagom worked very closely with our digital team throughout the entire discovery phase. Their regular communication and updates ensured we were kept involved at every stage. We came together for key project milestones like the workshops and prioritisation sessions which meant our digital team could continue working on our day to day tasks.
— Stephen Ivie, National Crime Agency

Meet the Digital by Default Service Standards crest

If your service or website belongs to a public organisation you can be confident we perform all the listed Discovery activities (and some extras) in the GDS Digital Service Design Manual.

It is a natural fit with our background in user-centred, agile digital projects, which means you can be confident you will be on track to conform to the Digital by Default Service Standards, including these:

  • #1 Understand user needs. Research to develop a deep knowledge of who the service users are and what that means for the design of the service
  • #2 Put a plan in place for ongoing user research and usability testing...
  • #4 Build the service using the agile, iterative and user-centred methods...
  • #6 Evaluate what tools and systems will be used to build, host, operate and measure the service...
  • #12 Create a service that is simple and intuitive enough that users succeed first time
  • #16 Identify performance indicators for the service...

As new and redesigned digital services are subjected to assessments to proceed from Alpha to Beta and then Beta to Live, it is critical to work towards them from the start.


Discovery activities and outputs


We are experts at delivering all the activities and outputs recommended for a Discovery phase in the Digital Service Design Manual:

4-8 Weeks

Benchmark current service

Usability testing, analytics review, expert UX review, KPI performance analysis, and evaluation against the Digital by Default Standards.

understand User needs

User needs workshops, interviews, surveys, web stats and search behaviour analysis to identify and validate genuine user needs.

explore Business goals

Document review, stakeholder interviews, and collaborative workshops to define the goals of the service.

Content discovery 

Audit, map and analyse current content for powerful insights that ensure the new service is designed for and around sustainable content.

Technical reqUIREMENTS

Expert technical review of the current service and the wider technical constraints the service must exist in.

sitemap and nav design

On and offline card sorting and sitemap techniques to design high-level site structures that make content findable. 

Prototype & usability tests

Facilitate collaborative sketching sessions with you to develop early interactive HTML prototypes we can rapidly test, validate, and iterate.

User stories backlog

Convert all the Discovery insights into a set of user stories to be prioritised with the client ready for an Alpha.


Issue UX, content strategy, technical, and assisted digital recommendations, supported with initial design principles and KPIs.

define Service scope

Produce high-level cost and effort estimates for building and running the digital service (inc. risks), for better resources planning.

Discovery Pack handover

Present insights and outputs of the entire Discovery phase so you can make an informed decision how to proceed to an Alpha stage (or not).


Reach, screen, and book the right user research participants to consult with throughout the Discovery.

We collaborate closely with you to design a Discovery phase that is appropriate for your organisation, service and project. We can add any tailored activities and outputs you may need.

We can also help if you only need specific user research services, like a round of user interviews or usability testing.

I would not hesitate to commission Lagom Strategy again and I would recommend them unreservedly for anyone seeking a robust Discovery project, evidence of user need and recommendations about how to proceed in complex circumstances.
— Stuart Sutherland, National School of Healthcare Science
We’ve got some really interesting and exciting things to be getting on with now as a result of the Discovery - all backed up by real data from real users - which is EXACTLY what we wanted from this project.
— Matt Johnson, NHS England
I was really impressed with the work Lagom did for NCA. I’d definitely recommend Lagom to anyone looking to run a discovery phase.
— Stephen Ivie, National Crime Agency


Lagom’s approach to user needs discovery is simple, sensible and it works.
— Susy Wootton, Department of Health
Lagom were excellent at drawing out, understanding and validating user needs.
— Stuart Sutherland, National School of Healthcare Science



We assemble a dedicated team from our extensive network of highly experienced user researchers, UX designers, content strategists, technical leads, and delivery managers.

We are very selective about who we invite to the team:

  • we must have previously worked with them (and been impressed)

  • they have directly relevant experience

  • and above all, are brilliant at what they do

The Discovery team is always coordinated by a Digital Strategist with experience of running digital service Discovery phases in the public sector and UK Government.

Lagom Strategy were instrumental in getting us to focus on the user stories that will give us the greatest benefit. Throughout the time working for us I was impressed by their enthusiasm for the subject and boundless energy.
— Philip Humphries, Land Registry
The survey work and analysis that Lagom conducted to rank and validate the broad range of user needs they had initially drawn out provided us with tremendously robust and valuable evidence that we are making good use of.
— Stuart Sutherland, National School of Healthcare Science

USER RESEARCH & Discovery articles

We like to share our experiences of running user research activities and Discovery phases:



Our Discoveries are very competitively priced and incredible value. We also fix a price so you don't get any nasty surprises.

We are a Crown Commercial Service supplier on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework so you can easily find and buy our services on the GOV.UK Digital Marketplace.


We should talk!

If you are planning to redesign or launch a new digital service we would love to give you a free consultation on what to consider...

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