Things You Didn’t Know About the Product Discovery Process
Rare are the situations where successful products materialize in the minds of developers and designers. Even rarer are those moments where fully-fledged products pop into one’s head.
Like most things in life, ideas - and later on – products, are crafted through hard work and applying yourself to the task at hand.
Well, luckily for you, we’ve compiled several methods which can and will lead you through the product discovery process.
What Is the Product Discovery Process?
It’s, literally, discovering aspects about your product before and while designing said product. Although it may have a fancy name, it’s actually something most of us have done during our lifetime, albeit on a vastly simpler level.
It’s about deducing what to develop and produce. Because we live in a fast-paced and data-driven world, being effective in product discovery mostly relies on gaining information from existing clients and potential customers.
Usually, the process starts with identifying the people your company serves. It should be the top priority to assess their (the customer’s) situations, needs, and the problems which require to be solved.
If all of this seems like it’s taking something simple and making it complicated, have no fear, for you are not alone!
With that out of the way, let’s dive in!
Divide and Conquer… the Problem!
Everything is easier when you break it down into bits and pieces. Although you may know the information written above, here are some phases which will help you zone in on your problem:
Phase One, Learn and Understand
Phase Two, Define and Decide
Phase Three, Ideas and Priorities
Phase Four, Testing the Prototype
Phase One: To Understand and Learn
While embarking on your journey of product discovery your task is to delve into the world of your user. At this phase, the goal is to take in as much information about your client’s needs and wants. This is done until clear patterns begin to emerge.
The inspiration, triggering product discovery, is usually a new product idea that you or your colleague want to dive into. That’s all fine and dandy, but where’s the catch?
Entering this process with an open mind is vital to this phase of product discovery. That means leaving your cool ideas on the sidelines. For now.
Focus on the bigger picture that your product is aiming to solve and use it to inform your user research. After that’s established, you should identify your team’s assumptions.
Then you can truly start user research with a neutral mindset.
That usually involves focus groups, customer interviews, and validating any UX insight that rise with analyzing product data. It is important to continue checking that your user interviews are unbiased, as before with your team. This entails avoiding questions that might hint at a solution you or your teammates are contemplating.
This is also a good time to do some market research.
Phase Two: To Define and Decide
So, after some time, patterns should start to stem from your research from the previous phase. One, two, or even three problems will start coming up in different user stories or interviews.
Once identified, the next step is defining them. Theorize or hypothesize, you should, in this phase, be able to see the size of the beast.
This phase is not without its challenges. Defining the right hypothesis is and getting it right is crucial!
But, take your time. There are a lot of pitfalls in product discovery and development, one of them being spending too much time creating solutions without being exactly sure what the problem is. It might seem like a waste of time, but be assured, hitting the bullseye on the hypothesized problem is a ton of help down the line.
Phase Three: Ideas and Priorities
Remember when we told you to set your cool new ideas aside? Well then, now is the time to bring them back to the spotlight.
While the first two phases focused on understanding the problem, in this phase, you finally get to start solving it!
Collect as many ideas as you can and compile them together. After that’s done, the hard part comes in. Figuring out which ideas to focus on.
Some product managers take a different approach to this. They decide what not to do. From a strategic standpoint, that’s sharp thinking from good product managers. Of course, this can be tricky, so we’ve collected some questions to act as guides.
Ask yourselves these five questions:
Does this idea align with our business goals? If the idea doesn’t impact your current business goals in a positive manner, discard it for another time or project.
Is the idea relevant to our target audience and potential users? The answer for this question should be found in the results from phases one and two.
Are the numbers adding up? Do some quick math to determine which specific metric you expect the idea to impact and estimate how much it will be. It will help in comparing ideas when trying to find a solution.
Are people asking for it? If your target audience is requesting a similar idea, this could prove invaluable.
Would it be unwise not to do it? Ask your team these questions and pay attention to their thinking process and answers, you could be missing some aspect that has been elusive so far.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your ideas on a shortlist, you can prioritize from there to assess which of them works best.
Phase Four: Testing the Prototype
Phase three was important in narrowing down the solutions worth your while, but this phase includes the validation of said solutions. The final step in this process is creating a Minimum Viable Product or MVP. After that’s done, get some customer feedback on it.
See what they think!
Your customers are the only people who can provide you with the real answer – is your solution viable? Don’t be worried if this phase gets into a loop. That’s natural for this part of the process, as you must test multiple variations and forms of the solution.
When building your product it cannot be stressed enough on how important are the wants and the needs of your (targeted) audience. Of course, there is a balance to be found between the customer’s desires and a product with value. A quality product.
If you follow these phases and tips, you will be able to create a process that informs and engages your team.
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