Product discovery is a process in which a team deeply understands the customers and then uses that understanding to develop products that perfectly fit customer needs. It reduces the uncertainty over the ideal to ensure that the right product gets developed that users actually require. If a team sacrifices the product discovery phase, then it is sacrificing the connection between the product and user needs. Product discovery not just helps in developing the right product, it also lets the team prioritize which products they should work on first and what features they should target.
It is not uncommon to see businesses realizing that they made a false assumption about what users need after releasing the product into the market. False assumptions can lead to costly financial and resource losses for any business, and also won’t make the business sustainable for a long time. That’s why the product discovery stage is very important in any product. When it is done rightly, it can increase the chances of product success. This article talks in-depth about product discovery and also highlights its importance and key steps.
What Is Product Discovery?
Product discovery is a process in which a team deeply understands the customers and then uses that understanding to develop products that perfectly fit customer needs. It reduces the uncertainty over the ideal to ensure that the right product gets developed that users actually need.
Product discovery is a crucial phase in the product design cycle that lets the teams approve or disapprove their assumptions about the product and customers. Not just does it help in developing the right product, but it also lets the team prioritize which products they should work on first and what features they should target.
Is Product Discovery Always Required?
Product decisions always have some level of uncertainty in them. With the product discovery phase, a team can reduce those risks with a justifiable answer against them. For example, Marty Cagan narrates the four major risks associated with product management as:
- Value Risk: Will the customer buy the product?
- Feasibility Risk: Considering our current resources, skills, and time, is our team capable to develop the product we are thinking of.
- Usability Risk: Will the user understand how to use the product?
- Business Viability Risk: The product also supports other aspects of the business.
All the above four risks can be very well addressed when a team conducts a comprehensive product discovery process. However, if a team sacrifices the product discovery phase, then it is sacrificing the connection between the product and user needs. Moreover, product discovery is not just about what features to ship, rather it also encourages a culture of learning that will enhance the team’s problem-solving skills and overall product quality.
Important Steps in a Product Discovery Process
Teams can have different approaches to work on the product discovery phase depending on the product type and business nature. However, the following are important steps in a product discovery process:
- Learn and Understand: A team should begin by absorbing as much information as it could about what are user needs until some patterns start appearing. Instead of looking at the problems based on the product idea the team has in mind, it should go with a neutral mindset and understand the problems from a broader perspective. A team can collect customers’ responses through different ways, such as social media, user research, email, survey, etc.
- Define: Once problems start making sense and some patterns start appearing, it’s time to craft solutions and define product ideas around the major or repetitive problems. It also involves testing the assumptions to ensure that there are no biased attributes involved.
- Prioritize: Once ideas are set, a team should now focus on which idea they should prioritize and how to approach the product or feature. It involves asking questions, such as does it align with business goals, whether are users looking for it, etc.
- Prototype: Once the idea is finalized and prioritized, the next thing is to work on a minimum viable product (MVP) to get users’ feedback as quickly as possible. Based on the feedback and the team’s further understanding of the problem, they can prioritize the product remaining phases efficiently.
In a nutshell, product discovery ensures that a business is utilizing its resources and time wisely, and it gives the team a clear understanding of what users are expecting from the product. In short, product discovery sets the solid base for quality product development.