Navigating the Discovery Phase of Digital Product Development

Bringing your digital product ideas to life starts by successfully navigating the discovery phase of product development.

The discovery phase is when your team works to analyze the market need for your product, understands your target audience, and hashes out the problems your product is solving for. When executed properly, the discovery phase enables your team to work from a thorough, in-depth understanding of the objectives, scope, opportunities and limitations surrounding the development of your product.

Before you start to think about implementing and launching your product, you need to ensure you’re building the right product for the right audience. The discovery phase allows you to build the foundation that will dictate the success of your product, so it’s important to give your teams the appropriate amount of time to ensure resources aren’t wasted and proposed product solutions are worth building.

To get your digital product design and development started on the right foot, here are a few tips that will help you navigate the discovery phase with complete confidence. Ultimately, by following these recommendations, you’ll be able to determine whether your product has market value and which users will be most likely to benefit from your solutions.

Ensure Alignment

There are likely many stakeholders involved with your digital product, which means it’s your job to ensure all internal teams need to be aligned around the main objectives and expectations of building out your product. Thorough communication and clear context regarding internal responsibilities and tasks are necessary in order to minimize confusion and misalignment during later phases of product development.

Assembling your team and product stakeholders in a conference room (or perhaps a video conference call) and addressing any and all questions they may have will help clear the air from the onset and enable you to kick off the discovery phase from a good starting place.

Do Your Research

Fortunly recently analyzed 101 small businesses that closed down in order to determine why they failed. It turns out that 42% of these businesses shut down their operations because there was no market need for their products or services. This study goes to show the importance of doing your market research before spending valuable time, money, and resources on building out your digital product.

Spend plenty of time researching your target audience to get a sense of their most pressing pain points, and determine how your product solutions will fit into current market needs. Identifying the product opportunity and ensuring there’s a path to success for your product needs to be done before any work on product design and development can begin.

Brainstorm Solutions

Once you have a good sense of your target audience’s problems, you can begin to consider the ways in which your product will solve for those problems. Ideation can take on a lot of different forms, from bringing the entire team together for a mass brainstorming session to letting employees think independently and ideate on their own. Sketching initial ideas of what an ideal product might feel like and what types of features could be included is another great conversation starter, as it allows your team to validate at a high level potential threats and opportunities for your product in the current market landscape.

However you approach brainstorming solutions, be sure that as many ideas as possible are expressed and laid out for team members to consider. While every idea won’t be a winner, a large volume of versatile ideas will enable you to prioritize solutions and determine the best course of action. The closer each idea is to solve an existing problem for your audience, the higher is the chance this idea will be key to your product’s success.

Build a Prototype

You’ve done your research, aligned your teams, and brainstormed potential solutions. Now you’re ready to bring those ideas to life. Building an initial prototype is an effective way of validating your product idea and testing how it performs with a small set of users. Don’t stress over the minute details of the product experience (animations, UI, stylistic features, etc.), and instead build a prototype that will provide users with a general idea of the purpose of your product and that clearly states how this product will make their lifes or work easier. 

There’s a fair chance that insights gathered from testing your initial prototype will result in significant changes to the product design and specifications. To avoid having your team spend hours building out sophisticated features and concepts that end up being discarded, direct your product team to build a rapid prototype that encapsulates the main product benefits without including all the bells and whistles.

Create a Roadmap for Success

Now that you have taken the time to properly state your product’s objectives, understand your target audience and competitive landscape, and create a prioritized list of validated ideas for potential features and capabilities, you have all the information needed to create an informed implementation plan. Make sure your entire team takes part in this process, as it is important to consider business, user experience, and technical requirements during the creation of the roadmap to ensure your product will be able to satisfy the users needs whilst being adaptable and scalable, and up to par to current technological standards. 

You might still need some additional time to be able to define every little detail of your product's look and feel, features and functionality, but hopefully by now you and your team have a clearer idea of the resources and effort that needs to be allocated to create an iterative and incremental plan of action towards a successful product release. 

Partner with Zemoga

Since 2002, Zemoga has empowered organizations to build better digital products. Our teams are experienced in partnering with businesses to help turn ideas into action and develop insightful roadmaps that chart a clear course towards impactful digital products.

From product conception to websites and mobile application development, our creative and technical team possesses the latest skills and set of tools to help ensure your product is carefully planned and quickly reaches the market in optimal condition. Through our Spark! sessions, we’re able to gather all the information needed to set your plan in motion.

If you’re ready to chat with Zemoga and see how our professional expertise can be tailored to your particular product needs, schedule a meeting or send us a message today!

About the author

David has been working with us for 10 years, helping to give shape to many products and initiatives, and ensuring our Business Analysis team participates in exciting projects that empower users and clients alike.