Product Management

What is Product Discovery? | Definition & Process

Product discovery is the process of deep understanding your customers to design products that match their needs. It’s an essential step in the design process, for if companies fail to effectively prove or disprove assumptions about their clients and their needs, they could end up developing products that no one needs. Product analytics tools are essential to the process of discovering products.

Why is Product Discovery Important?

Product Discovery is essential because it aids teams in developing products that are essential in the eyes of their consumers, not just desirable to the product owner. A necessary product meets such an essential and fundamental desire for the consumer that they cannot endure life without. Examples include Google search, smartphones, and duct tape. A lot of them develop into verbs like “Google it.” 

The benefit is evident: Needs have higher demand and more satisfaction. The main difference between a “need” and a “nice to have product is the effectiveness of the process of identifying products. When businesses fail at this, it’s usually because they were not thorough enough when researching their customers and built their products on assumptions that weren’t supported by proof.

How can I conduct Product Discovery?

To enhance or streamline your process of discovery, think outside the box. This means looking beyond your four walls and looking to your customers for insight into how your products should be constructed. 

They are the sole source of information about your product because “Customers have more knowledge than we ever know about their requirements and their context,” says Teresa Torres, designer, educator and co-founder of Product Talk. “Our Customers are the best. They are better at determining the quality of our product match more than us.”

Despite the apparent benefits of making product discovery based on customer research, most businesses don’t do it for two reasons. First, gathering customer data and continuously working to improve knowledge of customers ‘ needs can be laborious. Additionally, customer insights are often restricted to a small group of people on the marketing or product team responsible for conducting the study. To ensure that experts discover the product, teams should collect more customer information and spread these insights across the company.

Three Stages of Product Discovery

1. Question your assumptions

 The first step in improving your process for identifying products is to challenge the assumptions that guide the current method. For instance, do you think your initiatives for product development typically originate from the top executives? This assumes that they know what is best for customers but may not. Do your product teams prioritize features based on prior experiences? This assumes that their expertise is superior to new customer insights, which may not be the case. Put your team’s assumptions on the table, change them into hypotheses, and then test them using the data.

2. Conduct empirical user research

Two kinds of data on customers can be used to evaluate your assumptions – qualitative and quantitative.

Quantitative information is subjective and is derived from customer surveys, interviews and focus groups and typically measures customer attitudes and intentions. These data help businesses develop empathy for their customers and understand their viewpoints.

Pro Tip: For promoting an understanding of your customers is to include every team, from marketing to engineering, in conversations and qualitative data collection.

Data that is quantitative is a type of numerical data that can be derived from user data or testing. That’s what they call the “data” that people refer to when discussing the use of data in making decisions, and it is essential to verify the truthfulness of your assumption.

Consider, for instance, a social media application that believes expanding the share button will boost sharing. If the team doesn’t examine their results against a test group, any feature they develop in the future that incorporates the feature will be based on false assumptions. The house is waiting to collapse. Untested assumptions can affect the design and result in low performance.

3. Create design artefacts

Artefacts of discovery aid companies in keeping their user information top of mind. They are “living documents” and must be regularly upgraded, revised and referenced throughout product discovery. Three instances of discovery of artefacts

  1. Journey Map: This is a literal map of the user’s journey and includes “actions” and the places in the path towards their destination. They must be founded on the results of user research. Most of the time, these maps are developed by a few employees within the company using only the experience of others and their intuition. A poor understanding of the journey map could lead businesses off track.
  2. Empathy Map: An empathy map is a diagram of four quadrants of the customer that lets companies document what their clients perceive, hear, feel and even say, which ties back to the customer’s needs and opportunities. This can help you build a solid understanding of how the products or services you offer affect customers’ feelings.
  3. The consumer persona Consumer personas are an approximate subset of your customers, including “power users” or “aspiring amateurs. Most personas are composed of a catchy title followed by an array of psychographics, demographics and behaviour that can help businesses understand their customers through creation.

Your business can execute the most effective product discovery with better data discovery capabilities and some customer evidence. The products are based on precise customer information; their research and analysis will yield more results and elevate your product from the realm of ‘nice to be had’ to a must-have. Are you unsure of how to carry out the data-driven discovery of products? Learn more about analytics for products.

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