The Product Discovery Process outlines an iterative approach to developing successful products by integrating user research and testing to drive product direction.
A feedback loop in each stage of the process indicates how touchpoints with Users help to validate development is in line with user needs.
In this model I differentiate analysis from design and break the process into 4 distinct stages: Analyze, Design, Prototype & Evaluate. Phases incorporate User feedback consistently throughout the development lifecycle.
The phases of product discovery are not linear. Although analysis is often a good place to start, it is not the entrypoint for every project.
In the analysis phase, the purpose is to gain greater understanding of problems and define potential solutions for those issues. This stage is about defining the 'why' and 'what' of a project. Questions we attempt to answer during this phase are: What are the issues Users are currently facing? and Where are there opportunities for development? Interacting with Users during this stage helps to solicit Ideas and gain greater understanding of user needs.
Activities such as heuristic analysis and competitor reviews, market and user evaluations, contextual inquiry, charting of business processes, and definition of requirements are often associated with this stage.
This stage deals with 'how' things are done. In this phase, various design elements may be incorporated to create viable solutions addressing user's needs. Questions that are addressed during this phase include: What features will solve userís issues? and How will Users interact with the application?
A variety of activities may be associated in the assessment of potential solutions. Brainstorming sessions, use-cases, user interviews, card sorting, persona review and wireframing are often used in the development and articulation of design concepts.
In this stage we work to acquire understanding of how valid our potential solutions are and how well they address User needs. Questions we look to answer in this stage include: Is this solution understandable? Does this solution address User needs? Does this solution seem valuable and desireable to Users?
Techniques in the prototyping phase help assess product concepts through the use of simulation. These methods often take the form of guided interviews, paper prototypes, clickable product demos, and usability Sessions. Additionally, internal design teams meet to discuss potential implementations to clarify features and address the feasibility of solutions.
In the evaluation phase, judgments are made concerning the direction of implementation. Evaluation of the analysis provides direction and helps to prioritize requirements. Evaluation of design helps to validate whether a proposed solution is succeeding as intended. A variety of tools, such as A/B and Multivariate Testing, web analytics and NPS, User Review and follow-up discussions are used to assess the success of solutions.
Questions that are addressed during this phase, include: How does the solution perform related to associated goals? In what ways might the product need to pivot in order to better address User needs? and How should product improvements be prioritized?
In a holistic approach to product discovery, all phases are integrated throughout the lifecycle of product development. Teams maintain attention to all areas of design throughout the project and are involved in all stages. Breaking down barriers between groups and including Users in the discovery process improves overall success and understanding throughout the project lifecycle.
If you're looking for assistance on a current project, or want more information on how to incorporate product discovery methods into your development lifecycle, send me a message.