The Step-By-Step Guide to Product Design and Discovery
Product discovery is an important yet often overlooked aspect of mobile app development. Too often, usability is emphasized at the expense of utility. While the former is crucial, it is empty without considering the latter. Product discovery is a process that helps us make sure we’re not just creating products that are usable, but also useful.
At Clearbridge, we conduct design and discovery sessions to help you set product goals, identify and understand the business outcomes of your mobile app, prioritize product features, and determine what to include in your minimum viable product (MVP). During a product discovery session we work through four key areas:
- Product Strategy
- Product Definition
- Presentation and feedback
We’ll look at each of these areas, as well as the steps within. While processes for product discovery vary from organization to organization, we find that following these steps produces the best results.
1. Define the Goal
At the basest level, why are we building the product? What is the long-term goal? Identify your strategy and write it down. You also want to include assumptions and obstacles. To reach the goal, what has to be true? What assumptions are we making with the product? What might cause us to fail to reach our goal?
2. Create a Vision Statement
Before you jump into listing features, spend some time determining your product’s vision statement, the problem or problems it addresses, its target user base, and the value it brings to the market. A concise vision statement will help you nail down the central functionality of your MVP.
3. Write Down The Problems As Opportunities
For every problem identified in the existing process or product, write it down as an opportunity statement. For example, if the problem is that it takes two hours to process a customer request, the opportunity can be “how might we reduce processing time for customer requests?”
4. Ask the Experts
Once you have mapped the process, you can identify the internal experts you need to talk to. The experts you need to involve will vary depending on your overall business objective, but typically they will be employees who use the existing product or are involved in the existing service. They understand what the current process is, what’s working, and what areas need improvement.
5. Identify Your Minimum Marketable Features
Product discovery prioritizes one value proposition. You can define value in several ways: cost savings, customer loyalty, brand awareness, competitive advantage, revenue generation, etc. Ask yourself, what is the number one functionality your product requires to bring a specific value offering to the market and be successful? Answer that question, and again, focus only on what’s required to build that value into your MVP.
1. Prioritize Features
At this stage, you and your product team will generate, capture, and prioritize the core features of your MVP. Start by creating a master list of all the features you want to include in your product and start organizing and cutting features to keep your MVP lean. A common best practice for determining the necessary features for an MVP is a prioritization matrix, which we include in our MVP template.
This method will help you determine what features are mandatory, which features will come later, and which features to scrap entirely. Remember, it’s not feasible to implement every feature in the first version of your mobile app. It’s essential to identify what core feature is best suited to solve your users’ most pressing pain point and take that solution to market first.
2. Create User Journeys
Building a visual representation of the user journey keeps you focused on the user, or groups of users, in relation to the user experience design of your product. It’s important to think about how the end product will fit into the user’s life from the very first moment they require the service you provide. Creating user journeys helps you see any gaps in your thought process.
1. Present User Journeys and Wireframes
Here we map out how the solution will actually look and work in the hands of the end user with a visual solution that details both the user experience and the user interface. This step provides guidance on the user flows for app prototyping, the next phase in the product discovery process.
1. Create a Prototype
The app prototyping phase is where we create a clickable version of your app. Using the storyboard as a basis, we build an interactive and clickable sample of the product experience to demonstrate how it will work (we also like to create mockups to provide a polished and branded representation of the product composition).
Once you have a working prototype created, it’s advised to validate the product by conducting user testing. Organize a focus group to collect feedback; your focus group can consist of internal team members or people you’ve located through a user testing tool/service. Collect feedback on your app prototype – how people interact with it, the issues they are running into, what they say about the experience, etc. – and use this to guide the direction of the product.
The Benefits of Product Design and Discovery
Beginning mobile app development properly helps establish business outcomes and an overall product vision to maximize your return on investment. A design and discovery session gives you time with mobile subject matter experts who can help you understand mobile-first best practices and improve your chances of winning investor buy-in.
Using this approach to product discovery allows you to focus on both the utility of the app (is it really solving a problem and adding value?) and the usability (what is the user’s experience with the product?). This provides the foundation necessary to begin developing a product that will truly add value to your users and have a much greater chance of success in the market.