Product discovery phase: The key to creating products users will love

    Introduction to the product discovery phase

    Product Discovery is a crucial element in the process of creating and developing digital products. It lays the foundation for further actions aimed at delivering solutions that best meet users' needs and expectations. This process allows product teams to identify at an early stage which ideas have the greatest potential to become valuable products. Thanks to Product Discovery, it is possible to minimize the risk associated with investing time and money in projects that do not yield the expected results or do not solve real user problems – leading to financial losses.

    Overview of the process and key objectives

    The Product Discovery process can be divided into several key stages, such as identifying user needs, generating and validating ideas, prototyping, and testing solutions with potential users. Each of these stages aims to gradually approach the final product, which will not only meet market expectations but also contribute to achieving business objectives.

    • Identifying user needs: The first and fundamental step is to understand who the end-user is, what their needs, problems, and expectations are regarding a potential product.

    • Generating and validating ideas: At this stage, teams work on coming up with a variety of ideas for products or features that can address the identified needs. Then, selected ideas are validated, which allows assessing their potential value and feasibility.

    • Prototyping: Creating prototypes allows for the visualization of ideas and checking how they can function in practice. Prototypes are also an excellent tool for testing with users and collecting their feedback.

    • Testing solutions with users: Direct tests with potential users provide valuable insights on how real solutions meet their needs, what works well, and what requires improvement or a change of direction.

    The key goal of the product discovery stage is thus to build a solid knowledge base that allows for informed decision-making about the direction of product development. This process enables teams to quickly iterate ideas and adapt to the changing needs of the market and users, consequently leading to the creation of products better tailored to the expectations and requirements of the target audience.

    Why is product discovery so important?

    Business and technological risks addressed by the process

    The Product Discovery process is crucial because it allows for the early identification and reduction of business and technological risks that are an integral part of every new product creation project. Thanks to a deep understanding of users' needs and expectations at the beginning of the process, teams can avoid investing time and resources in solutions that will not find their place in the market. This also makes it possible to eliminate or significantly reduce the risk of developing product features that do not add value for users.

    • Business risk: Product discovery allows verifying whether a product idea has commercial potential and whether it aligns with the company's overall business strategy. It is also possible to identify potential market challenges, competition, and external factors that may affect the product's success early on.

    • Technological risk: This process also enables the assessment of the technical feasibility of product ideas. Teams can explore different technologies and tools that best meet the project's needs before significant resources are invested in development.

    The role of empathy towards the customer in product development

    Empathy towards the customer is the foundation of an effective product discovery process. Understanding what users feel, what problems they have, and what their real needs are is crucial for creating products that will have a real impact on their lives or work. Empathy allows product teams to go beyond superficial assumptions and reach deeper insights that can inspire innovation and lead to the creation of more engaging and valuable products.

    • Understanding the user: Through direct interaction with users, such as interviews, observations, or usability tests, teams can gain invaluable insights that help better understand their experiences and perspectives.

    • Building user-oriented products: This deep knowledge allows for the design and development of products that not only meet expressed needs but also exceed users' expectations, creating positive experiences and building loyalty.

    Empathy in the Product Discovery process translates not only into better products but also into greater engagement and satisfaction of users. By focusing on the human aspect of technology, companies can create solutions that truly resonate with their audience, which is key to building lasting relationships and achieving long-term success in the market.

    Structure of the product discovery process

    The Product Discovery process is a key element in creating digital products that meet and exceed user expectations. It consists of several stages that enable product teams to understand customer needs, identify opportunities, and discover effective solutions. Here is the structure of this process:

    Defining outcomes

    At the beginning of the Product Discovery process, teams define desired outcomes, i.e., the goals they want to achieve with the new product or improvement of an existing one. These outcomes are usually linked to higher business objectives and should be measurable to assess the project's success. Defining desired outcomes helps focus the team's efforts on creating solutions that have a real impact on users and contribute to achieving key business goals.

    Identifying customer needs (Opportunities)

    The next step is a deep analysis and understanding of potential users' needs and expectations. This stage

    often involves extensive research, such as user interviews, market data analysis, observation of customer behaviors, and analysis of competition. The goal is to identify "opportunities" - unmet needs, problems to solve, or areas where existing products are not good enough. Understanding these opportunities allows for the development of product concepts or features that can bring significant value to users.

    Discovering solutions

    After identifying key needs and opportunities, it's time to generate and test potential solutions. At this stage, teams create various product concepts or features that can meet users' identified needs. This includes designing and creating prototypes, which are then tested with users to collect feedback. This testing allows assessing which solutions are most promising and how they can be further developed or adapted to better serve users. This iterative process helps in gradually refining ideas and the direction of product development.

    The Product Discovery process is an iterative loop that can be repeated multiple times to progressively refine the product before its market launch. The key to success is continuous learning from user feedback and flexibility in adjusting the product concept to best meet their needs.

    Risk and strategy in product discovery

    Four main risks in product management (according to Marty Cagan)

    In the product creation process, identifying and managing risk are key aspects of ensuring its success. Marty Cagan, a recognized expert in product management, identifies four main risks that product teams must face:

    1. Value Risk - Will users actually want to use the product?
    2. Usability Risk - Will users be able to understand how to use the product?
    3. Feasibility Risk - Can our technical team build the product within the available skills, technology, and timeframe?
    4. Business Viability Risk - Will the product be profitable and make business sense? Does it align with the company's goals and strategy?

    Addressing these risks at the Product Discovery stage allows for their early identification and taking appropriate actions to minimize potential problems in the future.

    How product strategy influences priorities in the discovery process

    Product strategy plays a key role in the Product Discovery process, helping to determine the direction of product development and prioritize actions. This strategy should be closely linked to the company's business objectives and the needs and expectations of users. With a clearly defined strategy, teams can better understand which aspects of the product should be focused on during the discovery process, which in turn allows for the efficient use of resources and focus on solutions that will bring the most value to users and the business.

    The product strategy also helps in determining which risks are most critical and require quick addressing. For example, if the strategy involves entering a new market with an innovative product, value risk and business viability risk may be particularly relevant and require intensive research and user testing to verify assumptions.

    In the Product Discovery process, a strategic approach to priorities and risks allows for more purposeful and effective searching for the best solutions, which is key to the success of any product.

    Techniques and methods helping in product discovery

    The Product Discovery process involves a range of techniques and methods that help teams understand users' needs, verify ideas, and create products that meet those needs. Here is an overview of some of them:

    • Minimal Viable Product (MVP): MVP is a version of the product with the minimum number of features that is sufficient to gather the maximum amount of validated knowledge about users with minimal effort. This allows for rapid validation of assumptions and adaptation based on user feedback.

    • Customer Journey Mapping: This technique allows visualizing the experiences and interactions of the user with the product or service. It helps teams understand how users move through different stages of using the product and where they might encounter problems.

    • Assumption Testing: Involves verifying key assumptions about the product through experiments and tests. This allows for the quick identification and elimination of incorrect beliefs that could lead to erroneous decisions.

    • Customer Interviews: Direct conversations with users aimed at understanding their needs, preferences, and experiences related to using products or services.

    • Jobs To Be Done (JTBD): A method focusing on understanding and defining the "jobs" (tasks) users want to accomplish with the product. This helps in identifying fundamental needs and motivations of users.

    Choosing the appropriate techniques in the Product Discovery stage should depend on specific goals, the stage of product development, and available resources. For example, in the early stage of product development, when the goal is to understand the general needs of users, customer interviews and customer journey mapping may be most valuable. In contrast, in a later stage, when the product is already partially developed, MVP and assumption testing can help in iterative refinement and adaptation of the product to changing user requirements.

    Personalizing the product discovery process

    Each product is unique, and its development requires an individual approach. Personalizing the Product Discovery process involves tailoring methods and techniques to the specifics of the industry in which the product will function and the characteristics of the product itself. This approach allows for more effective addressing of specific needs and challenges that the team may encounter.

    What is the importance of correct customer segmentation and personalization of approach?

    Understanding the diversity of customers and their unique needs is crucial for the success of any product. Customer segmentation allows product teams to focus on specific user groups and tailor the Product Discovery process to them. Personalizing the approach not only increases the chances of understanding and meeting users' expectations but also allows for more purposeful use of resources in the product creation process.

    Risk management in product discovery

    Techniques for minimizing risk in the development process

    In the product development process, there are many techniques for minimizing risk, such as iterative creation and testing of prototypes, continuous validation of assumptions with users, and the use of agile methodologies, which allow for quick adaptation to changes and unexpected challenges.

    How to make decisions Under uncertainty

    Making decisions under uncertainty requires flexibility and a willingness to experiment. It is important to base decisions on collected data and feedback from users, as well as on risk analysis and potential scenarios. Techniques such as SWOT analysis, scenario modeling, and foresight techniques can help teams better understand potential risks and opportunities, enabling more informed decision-making.

    Who should conduct product discovery?

    The team responsible for product discovery should consist of the following people:

    • Project Manager – conducts workshops and handles communication between the development team and the client.
    • Developer/CTO – selects the most appropriate technological solution, prepares the specification, and determines the necessary "tools."
    • UX Designer – prepares wireframes and prototypes, analyzes the "user journey" to create appropriate UI for the application that meets user needs and provides a specific UX.
    • CFO/Business Analyst – in collaboration with the rest of the team, prepares the project budget, deadlines. Deals with determining investment risk, return on investment, and conducting financial reports.

    The role of customer feedback and iterative approach

    Collecting and analyzing feedback from users

    Customer feedback is an invaluable source of knowledge, enabling understanding of how users interact with the product and what their expectations are. Collecting this information, both through direct interviews and analytical tools, allows identifying areas for improvement and new product development opportunities.

    How important is the iterative approach and continuous testing in product development?

    Iterative development and continuous testing are key in the Product Discovery process. They allow for ongoing adjustment of the product to the changing needs of the market and user feedback. This approach enables quick introduction of improvements and innovations, increasing the product's chances of market success. Iterations and tests are the foundation of agile methodologies, which focus on continuous refinement and adaptation of the product.

    Summary and Best Practices

    In the product discovery process, understanding users' needs and quickly iterating product ideas are key. Effective risk management, continuous testing, and collecting feedback from customers are essential for creating products that meet market expectations. For product teams, it is very important to adapt strategies, be open to changes, and focus on learning from experiences.

    Learn more about product discovery in iMakeable.

    Worth remembering:

    • Understanding user needs: The basis of product discovery is a deep understanding of what users really need, ensuring product market relevance.
    • Iterative testing and feedback: Continuous iteration and gathering feedback are key to refining and validating product concepts.
    • Managing business risk: Early identification of problems and minimization of business risk to avoid financial losses.
    • Diversity of techniques: Using various techniques, such as MVP, customer journey mapping, and user interviews, to streamline the product discovery process.
    • Personalizing the process: Customizing the product discovery process to the specific context of the industry and product increases its effectiveness.
    • Openness to change: The project team's openness to changes is crucial for discovering solutions that best meet user needs.


    How to define goals in the Product Discovery process?

    • Goals in the product discovery process should be consistent with the strategic business objectives of the company and focus on solving specific user problems or meeting their needs.

    What are the first steps in the Product Discovery process?

    • The first steps in product discovery should focus on understanding the needs and expectations of users through market research, competition analysis, and direct conversations with potential customers.

    How to analyze and interpret data from user research?

    • In analyzing data from research, focus on identifying patterns and recurring themes. Using qualitative analysis tools can help organize and prioritize qualitative feedback.

    How to engage users in the product discovery process?

    • Build open communication channels, invite users to product tests, and encourage them to share opinions through surveys or interviews.

    How long should the Product Discovery process last?

    • The process can last from several weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the product and available resources.

    What tools and techniques are worth using in product discovery?

    • Utilize a variety of methods, such as user interviews, prototyping, usability tests, MVP (Minimal Viable Product), customer journey mapping, and competition analysis, to get a fuller picture of user needs and behaviors.
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