Product Discovery - where the new product development process starts
30 March 2023
18 minutes read
22 minutes audio
Table of Contents
How to kickstart the product development process
The initial stage of building a digital product is of utmost importance in every new product development process; it serves as the foundation for defining and refining the product's purpose. It's the moment of truth when you and your team must evaluate your concept in terms of what it can do for business.
Unleashing your creative potential, Product Discovery is the entire process from conception to validation of innovative and original product ideas, while utilizing various processes and tools to refine and validate your concept before delving into the finer details of production.
To guarantee an effective final product launch, it is essential to properly plan and map out the process. Time and resources must be managed for a comprehensive Product Discovery procedure that comprehends customer needs, desires, and market research analysis and acts as insurance for a successful development phase.
At the end of the Product Discovery process, you should have a clear product strategy - from the features and capabilities that users need for it to be successful to the optimal business and scaling model. Defining the initial version of this strategy during the discovery phase, can ensure a successful launch and market adoption.
Four factors of the successfully defined product idea
When designing a new product, it is essential to consider whether your customers will actually purchase or use the item. The value of the product must be evident to both users and potential customers, so it is important to determine what core value your product provides.
Do not let your product concept become too convoluted, as it might deter customers from purchasing. It is imperative to remember that although having a lot of product ideas may seem like an advantage, the real test lies in whether or not the customer finds value and benefit by incorporating your tool into their work or life. Complexity can be intimidating; make sure whatever you create remains user-friendly!
Every business owner struggles with the same issue: Do I possess enough time, money, and personnel to create this product? You can hire a product development company to do it for you but consider if your budget will cover the cost. In the event that costs would be too great, how about if we launch a simplified version of the application instead?
To put it plainly, business feasibility means that the income produced from your product is greater than its associated expenses. This is a crucial inquiry for any new product launch - how will this bring in money for my company? You can consider releasing your product at a fixed price or, in the case of applications, consider in-app payments or subscriptions.
If you're looking for ways to brainstorm and develop your concept, we've got the perfect list of systems and tools that will help take your idea from concept to reality. Arm yourself with these innovative methods in concept development so you can create something truly special!
Design Thinking is an ideal framework for product ideation, as it centers around the user experience and aims to meet their needs. Rather than Product Discovery which focuses more on the product itself, this approach involves digging deep into understanding your customers' wants and requirements.
With Design Thinking, you can easily answer questions posed by your target market. It is also the methodology that can be applied not only for Product Discovery but adapted to the entire iterative product development.
The non-ending circle of Design Thinking
Inspiration - Where did you come up with the concept behind your product or its upgrade? How can you use what you have learned to refine that idea even further? In the idea generation process, it's often helpful to focus on a specific issue - which is why "HMW" questions are so effective. HMW stands for “How Might We” and encourages problem-solving by helping uncover customer issues and offering solutions.
Ideation - This phase involves generating and examining ideas, as well as forming a crystallized product concept and product development focus. To facilitate the process of brainstorming, try incorporating "the worst possible idea" discussion into your team meetings- not only will it be an entertaining icebreaker, but it can also help you to strategize what alternatives are inadvisable for your product's success.
Implementation - This phase is the bridge between the idea and the successful product. This is the complete process of combining the product idea, detailed business plan, initial marketing strategy, and software development process, which sets us on the course to a successful product launch. This is the last step before the prototyping phase and hitting the new market.
The goal of Design Thinking
Desired by users - By closely listening to the needs of your target market, you can develop a product that is tailored to their wants and desires. Your product team should be proud knowing that they created something that fulfills customers' expectations! With an effective marketing strategy, even those who don't yet recognize how much they need your product will come around.
Technical feasibility - As technology continuously evolves and progresses, there are still certain objectives that it is unable to reach. Your product development team will be more than willing to give you the details about the existing solutions along with the tasks that remain beyond their capabilities. If your product idea appears overly complex or unrealistic, then instead of obtaining positive initial feedback, you may receive a 'no' response in return.
Financially profitable - Maximizing profits from an existing product is your main objective. You can offer it for sale, or if you have a mobile app, monetize by incorporating ads and/or in-app purchases into the user experience. Be calculated about your approach to the marketplace and distribution strategy!
Product Discovery - what to perform on your own before reaching the development team
Have a clear idea
Before joining forces with the product development team, it's essential to have a clear-cut conception of your product. Consider how this concept will match up to customer expectations and solve potential problems they may face. It is also beneficial to brainstorm the look and feel of your product. Crucially, consider ways in which profits can be generated from this idea. You don't need to build advanced tech specifications - as long as you wisely choose your software house they should guide you to change your idea into clear product development documentation.
Check on your competitors
Utilizing existing products that are similar to your own concept is a good way to prepare when forming an idea for a product. It grants you the opportunity to not only observe how such apps function but also consider what additional elements could be added in order to refine it, make it wholly yours, and build a Unique Value Proposition.
Collect user feedback
When it comes to understanding what customers want, existing products are a goldmine of information. Not only can you see which features are praised and appreciate the objections they have with current offerings, but you can use this user feedback to your competitive advantage.
By identifying the most desirable features for your target audience and incorporating them into your product offering, there is no telling how successful it could be!
Pitching is an effective way in the idea generation process. Invite a few of your reliable decision-makers and present your concept to them. Allow them the opportunity to express their doubts about it, since that way new features for this idea will come into play. You will also gain initial feedback on your idea this way.
Don't ever overlook this integral step - even if you have an incredible plan, but are unable to showcase it persuasively to stakeholders or customers, its potential will remain untapped. Pitching is also crucial if you will decide to look for external funding for your product.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
MVP stands short for Minimum Viable Product. It's good to have at least initial priorities for the features of your app as releasing an app to the target market requires a baseline version, often referred to as an alpha release.
A minimum Viable Product is the most effective way of optimizing the time of development and validating ideas. You don't have to define MVP in detail on your own but be prepared to work on the priorities of each feature during the Product Discovery phase with the App Development Company you will choose or your in-house development team.
Market research is an invaluable tool for gaining insight into what your product should be. It's a holistic assessment of the wants and needs of both global markets as well as those expressed by individual customers, giving you valuable feedback to make informed decisions about your offering.
It is essential to not limit your market research to simply comparing with competitors' offers; rather, you should also reach out and gain insights from both existing and prospective customers when formulating a new product development process as well as after launching.
Listen to your customers
A great way to gather this kind of intel is through surveys and interviews. This way you can get your customers' direct opinions on your product. It is also a great way to learn what could be improved or incorporated in the future.
In addition, don’t forget to keep an eye and ear out for feedback on social media, as this can provide you with invaluable insights that would otherwise remain hidden!
If you're unable to decide which feature would be best for your product, A/B testing is the perfect solution. Simply gather a group of people and split them into two halves; one half will use the version with Feature A, while the other half uses Feature B. Their feedback can be invaluable to your research process!
An excellent way to obtain user feedback during the early stages of product development is by conducting usability tests. During this concept testing, users are asked to use the product while performing a set list of tasks. In the meantime, researchers can observe their performance and identify any issues or pain points to make improvements and create an even more user-friendly experience.
Product Workshops - teamwork makes the dream work
Workshops are a pivotal piece of the product discovery puzzle. These meetings, which involve founders, product teams, developers, marketing teams, and any other pertinent stakeholders are essential for cultivating successful strategies.
Clear communication between your business and the software house is indispensable to ensure seamless collaboration. With it, developers can observe the project from the client's perspective, narrow down specific aims, determine what constitutes success for the product in question, and agree on a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) along with the product development timeline.
There are different types of workshops that occur during the whole product development process.
These groundbreaking workshops bring together both the client and developer teams to decide on the final product form, as well as guide the product development cycle. This is also an ideal time to pinpoint if launching this product will meet the market's requirements - a crucial aspect known as 'product/market fit'.
The product development team should present you with a wide range of documentation when the discovery workshops come to an end, including:
Product Vision Board
The product vision board shows the target market, what are its needs, what would the product do to satisfy its desires and what are the business goals for the product.
Business model canvas
Mostly taking the form of an expansive table, the BMC shows the whole business analysis and value proposition of the product, as well as the target audience and the marketing efforts essential to reach it.
The product roadmap is an in-depth plan of each team's objectives and the due dates for their completion, including those related to project management, product development process, and market strategy. By adhering to this schedule closely, one can ensure that production runs without hitch and culminates with a timely finished product launch.
UX Strategy Canvas
This document is composed of five key sections: what are the obstacles we face, our desired outcome, where to concentrate our efforts to reach it, strategies for overcoming those challenges, and what actions we need to take and the skillsets required to conquer these issues.
UX Design Workshop
In the second phase of product discovery workshops, when the general perspective on the market and proposed value is clear, you can focus on understanding who your target audience is, how to deliver your product or service to them, and the many ways that they can benefit from using it.
At workshops, create several fictional characters to represent your potential customers. They should be as detailed and accurate as possible - from age and occupation down to their personalities. This will greatly aid in formulating a sound product strategy; you can even model them on user stories for added accuracy. Personas can be built based on the experiences, intuition, and knowledge of your team but they should be at least partially confirmed through the research.
User journey map
Just as a map can direct you to the treasure, a user journey map reveals each step that your desired customer persona must take from noticing the product to reaching their objective. Your primary consideration should be on how many steps it takes (the fewer, the better), and if they're easy or complex for them; but also include any thoughts and emotions experienced during every step. With this in mind, you'll have an easier time creating a more accessible product concept.
A product backlog is an essential list of tasks that must be completed to take your product ideas from product development to an existing app. This list will start as a rough draft and then develop into more granular details outlining what actions are necessary for completion. The development team won't be able to get the job done without it.
When constructing your product backlog, it's essential to plan and coordinate with the roadmap. Take into account how much time you have in each phase and what effects that would ultimately have on the product development process. This is the time when MVP definition should be defined.
The evolved, comprehensive iteration of the business model canvas is known as the product canvas. All that you've organized in your BMC should be broadened and specified within the product canvas. It also assists with envisioning a clearer image of each segment or aspect every team member is working on.
Let's dive into the results of our UX Design workshops. We have both a user persona and an action plan, so let's get to work. Ideation sessions help us identify solutions for users' issues while also identifying potential risks and devising countermeasures in advance. These workshops are particularly helpful during the new product development process.
Through the ideation workshop, you should create:
A mind map is a powerful tool that organizes and classifies vast amounts of data. It can be used to divide any information, such as risks or questions, into distinct categories. This not only helps keep the product development process organized but also makes it easier for team members to understand their responsibilities.
Unlock the creative potential of your team by giving them a dilemma and allowing each member to come up with individual solutions. When all responses have been collected, compare answers and brainstorm together to determine the most suitable answer. This is an excellent way not only to cultivate creativity within a group setting but also to promote cooperation among colleagues while striving for optimal results!
You've reached the culmination of the product discovery process and are now able to kick off prototyping. We’ve moved beyond mere conceptualizing or conversing about product concepts or product ideas, it's time to bring them to fruition. As you create your prototype, utilize all that have been deduced from marketing strategy and business analysis.
During prototype workshops, you're going to work on base for UX designers to build wireframes, mockups, and interaction prototypes.
Creating wireframes is an essential part of app development, which involves constructing a schematic view without the use of colors, icons, or images. At this stage in the process, you'll be focusing on defining foundations for your design system and deciding what UI components are needed and where each component should go. Wireframes allow us to get an overall sense of how our application window will look before making any further investments into design elements.
Mockups are the improved versions of the wireframe. After getting the technical sense of the app, you're starting to choose everything that was not included in the wireframe: logos, colors, icons, styles, photos, and many more. At this point, the app starts to look like an actual application and will give you a better sense of how your product is going to look and perform.
The main difference between a mockup and a prototype is that a mockup provides a glimpse of all the components that will be utilized in the remainder of your views, while a prototype takes it one step further by allowing you to interact with what is displayed. With prototypes, after clicking on an element, it responds and reveals the next window or page.
The product development process does not end with constructing a prototype, but the product discovery stage comes to an end here.
Example - Flambia - Product Discovery for Food Industry ERP System
The best examples come from our own experiences. The founders of Flambia came to us with an innovative idea for a personalized diet catering management system.
At first, our Product Designer conducted interviews with the decision-makers to understand the initial concept and the goal of the platform.
Since the market research was already done by the founders, we made sure all of our cross functional team was familiar with it and had a good sense of the market and environment in which the new product will be built.
Then we worked with the client on choosing a highly inclusive team of people, with a broad perspective to conduct Product Discovery. We engaged dieticians, cooks, a marketing team, and some potential clients.
We conducted a series of 7 few hours workshops, in which we discussed different areas of the product. Concept development was started in divided focus groups and then we managed to join various perspectives in general workshops.
Based on the good research and the effects of the discovery workshops our designers conducted UX design workshops to transform product vision into wireframes and early-stage prototypes to test.
As an effect, we had a clear vision of a great product with multiple layers of user roles and features. That was the time to structure it into an optimal action plan by splitting the product into a few separate services and planning a 1.0 version backlog for each of them.
We spent more than 2 months on the Discovery and Design stages of Flambia but it gave us a great foundation for the straightforward development process and deployment of the 1.0 version which is already in production without any delays and surprises.
Invest into in-depth concept development
As you can see, the Product Discovery process is a crucial procedure for the new market launch. It helps with communication between different teams, encourages creativity and cooperation within a group setting, but also promotes resourcefulness.
Crafting a product is an individual journey, as no two solutions are the same.
As such, it's important to make sure that you don't use the same approach for every case – each project needs its own solution tailored accordingly. Developing your product concept early on in this process makes everything more streamlined and hassle-free from start to finish.
Every digital product development process is the same in that validating ideas and revising the product vision are necessary steps due to today's rapidly changing, highly competitive environment. It's important to remember that making changes and adjustments during the beginning of a project is much simpler and cost-effective than when it has gone live or progressed further into its development stages. That being said, investing in Product Discovery can help provide assurance for future products down the line.
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