Unlocking Product Success: The Importance of Product Discovery
When choosing to develop a mobile application, the product discovery process is key to understanding if the app has a place in the market.
by Esteban Siniscalco
5 min read · Oct 31, 2022
Developing a successful product is a process that should be well thought before starting the project. As a business, you invest precious time and energy into coming up with the idea that you assume will solve a genuine problem and be invaluable to the user.
Things, however, don’t always pan out this way. Many times, companies find that users don’t respond to the product as well as they had hoped due to several reasons. Maybe the product doesn’t really solve the problem, or maybe it just isn’t a viable solution.
But why does this happen? Most companies assume that their product solves a problem effectively and that there are users out there who would find it helpful. In the end, the business ends up with a flawed product that doesn’t solve the problem it set out to fix. Plus, now more money needs to be shelled out to salvage and then remarket it.
Product discovery helps companies avoid getting stuck with an unsuccessful product by figuring out what their target audience’s needs are and how they can effectively meet them.
What is product discovery?
Product discovery is an elementary stage of the product development process where you determine who your target audience is, what their needs are and how to effectively meet them. It involves regular testing of ideas and solutions and tailoring them to the users’ needs.
While the process involves a lot of research and testing, it helps companies save significant amounts of money by preempting possible readjustments and errors. Spending money on discovery makes more sense than releasing a faulty product and then going back to the drawing board to redo everything.
What role does product discovery play in app development?
Product discovery is a crucial stage in app development because it helps you figure out your target audience and how your app will solve a problem they currently face. Product discovery also helps you figure out the core features your app will need to have in order to solve this problem. This stage essentially helps prepare for the software development process by streamlining and finessing your product ideas.
What does the product discovery process look like?
Although every company defines the product discovery phase for itself based on its specific goals and needs, a successful product discovery plan usually follows these five steps.
Step 1: Identify user needs
This is where you identify the problem you are trying to solve. You need to comprehensively research the broad challenges your product will solve and how the solutions presently available are incapable of doing it as efficiently.
Once the issue has been identified, it needs to be fully defined and validated so that you are sure that you are working on a difficulty that needs to be solved and has a market that wants to use such a product.
Step 2: Ideate solutions
After isolating the problem, your team will then get into the ideation stage, where they will need to come up with creative, innovative, and out-of-the-box solutions to the issue. For this, you may utilize techniques like brainstorming, storyboarding, and mind mapping.
Step 3: Analyze and select solutions
Once you’ve got a plethora of ideas and possible solutions, it’s time to analyze what you have and make a selection of the most effective and user-friendly ideas.
Step 4: Prototype and Testing
Prototypes are basically rough ways in which an idea is demonstrated tangibly. So far, what has only been defined in words is put on paper as a sketch or video prototype.
At this stage, selected ideas are basically brought to life in the form of mockups, clickable prototypes, sketches, slide decks, wireframes, or working models.
The testing phase then determines whether the product developed is capable of solving the problem. This is done through A/B testing, customer reviews, surveys, user tests, and product beta testing.
Step 5: Build your MVP (Minimum Value Product)
Basically, an MVP is a product with enough basic features in place to help validate assumptions and gather enough feedback to be able to analyze if users would actually buy the product you are trying to sell. An MVP allows you to collect all this data at a minimal cost without wasting time and effort to launch a product that you aren’t sure of.
Does every mobile app need a product discovery phase?
While product discovery is technically an optional process, many companies have begun using it diligently to confirm their product’s viability before it hits the market.
For a mobile app, product discovery helps develop an effective MVP and, eventually, a final product that has been tested thoroughly enough to validate its usefulness and value. It is a process that values usefulness over usability, a key differentiation that most companies don’t pay heed to.
Who should participate in product discovery?
Product discovery is a cross-functional collaborative process. This means that almost the entire team participates in the discovery process at one point or another. Participation from select team members across all domains ensures a holistic perspective on the product. Some are involved temporarily, while others are involved from start to finish. Essential participation is expected from the following groups:
- Project Manager and other stakeholders such as investors.
- Tech and engineering leads.
- UX/UI Designers.
- User Researchers.
Product discovery techniques
Some important product discovery techniques include customer interviews, usability tests, A/B tests, demand tests, assumption tests, impact mapping, jobs-to-be-done, ethnographic studies, customer visits, experience mapping, story mapping, assumption mapping, OKRs, opportunity solution trees, and so on. The customer is essentially involved at every stage of development.
The importance of product discovery
A universal truth that guides product discovery is “knowledge is power”. With qualitative and quantitative research, companies can discover enough information to develop products that actually fill a gap in the market, solve problems, are usable, and prioritize user feedback above all else.
All this can be done, by actually saving the company precious time and money. If the product is tested in the early stages enough to keep validating its purpose, usefulness, and usability, the chances of it failing in the market reduce considerably.
Product discovery makes developing new apps or features less risky and more attuned to user needs.
by Esteban Siniscalco
5 min read · Oct 31, 2022
Esteban Siniscalco is Delivery Manager at Somnio Software. He is a great planner, organized, and enthusiastic member of the team.