product discovery; a complete guide for 2022

Product discovery has changed significantly in the past few years. While it used to be that the only way to find out if a product was worth pursuing would be by getting prototypes made, nowadays entrepreneurs can use powerful online tools and platforms to research their ideas before they spend any money at all on expensive prototyping processes.

The product discovery process is more important than ever in the digital age because product discovery allows you to innovate more quickly and frequently. The process enables product developers to validate product ideas before investing time, money, or resources into them.

By the end of this guide, you should be able to successfully understand the product discovery process, discover new products with greater efficiency, overcome common challenges in product discovery, learn some best practices for product discovery, avoid common mistakes made while doing product discovery and predict what the future holds for Product Discovery.

What Is Product Discovery and Why Do You Need It

Product discovery is the process of understanding customer needs and wants in order to create a product that will meet them. You might be asking yourself why you need this process at all when you have been working on your business for years. The answer is that over time, customers change, their needs change and their available options also change. Unless you do thorough homework on these changes, all your effort will be in vain. It's not enough to just take an educated guess or rely on your gut feelings-you need a concrete understanding of the problem they are trying to solve so that there's no room for error. Product discovery allows startups and established businesses alike to stay relevant in an ever-changing market by delivering solutions that their customers actually want.

What Are the Challenges for Product Discovery?

When dealing with product discovery, there are some challenges that organizations might encounter. Product discovery is the first phase of the product development process and usually deals with market research before developing a prototype or final product. There are several parameters to consider when choosing the right path to take during the actual product development stage, including aspects like industry readiness, available funding, and market conditions. As such, it is important to ensure that the product discovery process is sound and thorough. Failure to do so might lead to new product failure.

Challenges in Product Discovery Phase

The primary challenges in product discovery are developing a solid understanding of customer requirements, identifying the right R&D team for each task at hand, and steering the business towards product success.

Customer Requirements Understanding

In order to come up with a successful product, there needs to be a solid understanding of what the customer wants out of it. The right teams need to have a handle on what customers expect from products in this category so they can deliver accordingly. At the same time, companies have to recognize that they cannot please everyone at once, and they might have to make sacrifices along the way.

R&D Teams for Each Task

Each new product development phase requires a different set of skills and expertise, including user interface (UI), information technology (IT), and industrial designers, who will focus on three separate aspects of design: form, performance, and user experience (UX). Moreover, in order to deliver market-ready products in the shortest possible time, companies need to delegate responsibilities appropriately.

Steering towards Product Success

With so many moving parts at play when developing a new product, it is easy for organizations to lose their way along the way. Product managers who can steer innovation and deliverability, and who can manage the process according to requirements and timelines will help turn product development into a success.

How to Overcome the Challenges in a Product Discovery Phase?

Most challenges in a product discovery phase can be solved by carefully planning this phase and having all members of the team according to their respective roles. You'll also need to do market research, select target customers, learn how they use existing solutions to their problems, identify what they like and dislike about the existing products.

Cabot solutions is a custom software development company that provides a product discovery phase as a service to collect software requirements, analyze competitors, identify market opportunities, and will help dig deeper into each of these points in order to provide you with all the information you need for a successful product discovery phase.

It's always recommended to involve users during an early prototype or poc development since it makes them feel more involved in the process. However, you should also be aware that an unprepared product discovery phase can drive users away. If this happens, it will result in a huge waste of time and money for your startup.

A successful way to work with users is to have meetings with them on a regular basis so they can share their opinions about the prototype you are developing at any given moment. Don't wait until the end of the product discovery phase to meet them because it will be too late to make adjustments based on their feedback.

To ensure that testing is conducted properly, you'll need members of your team who are experts in user research and user experience design. They will know how to conduct successful tests by asking the right questions and observing the answers.

User research is a key part of any project, but it's even more important for a product discovery phase because it provides you with vital information about your target customers. While conducting market research, try to understand what problems your future users are currently facing. This will help you develop a better idea of whether or not your solution is viable.

Remember that market research shouldn't just focus on identifying customer needs but also their preferences and past experiences with similar products. The more you know about them, the better equipped you'll be to build a product that they will enjoy using.

One of the most common problems in the product discovery phase is spending too much time on developing a product that nobody wants to use. This happens when the team doesn't include members who know how to conduct market research, especially if they have had previous experiences with similar projects.

Introducing an MVP (minimum viable product) is a good way to start your project off on the right foot because it allows you to test your ideas before spending too much time on them. During the product discovery phase, your goal will be to find out how many people are willing to pay for your product and what features they want it to have.

Based on this information, you'll decide whether or not to continue working on the project or start over from scratch. If you decide that there is potential in it, you'll need to readjust your budget and timeline so you can refine it.

The product discovery phase is a time-consuming process that requires planning and organization if you want to overcome the challenges associated with it. If your team doesn't include members of different specialties, such as marketing, UX design, or business development, then this phase will be even more challenging. It is recommended that the product discovery phase is done in an agile manner. At Cabot, we form agile teams for the product discovery phase, and we deliver results in 2-4 sprints.

By planning ahead, organizing your work, and including different stakeholders in the process, you'll be able to successfully complete all tasks during this phase. Simply put, if you want to develop a good product that users will enjoy, identifying their needs is crucial.

Tools for Product Discovery

Here is a list of tools that can use to successfully complete product discovery:

- Customer Journey Mapping

- Opportunity Assessment Matrix

- Personas

- Affinity Diagrams

- Storyboarding

- Business Modeling Canvas (BMC), and

- Voice of the customer (VOC).

Customer Journey Mapping aims to improve the customer experience by realizing the needs of customers at each stage of their journey. Through a standardized process, organizations can better understand current and future journeys and identify areas for service improvement. You can use software such as Uxpressia or Whimsical for customer journey mapping.

The Opportunity Assessment Matrix is a model that outlines all of the necessary factors to consider when creating an opportunity profile; each cell represents the attributes of that factor, which are then used to develop better solutions through mapping out customer needs. For example, for product managers to create a successful cycling apparel line, they need to consider the element of weather as a factor since this is a major influence on how they will design their products.

Personas are fictitious characters that represent potential customers, and allow companies to strategize who they want to target for their product.
Sample Software for Personas: Hubspot

Affinity Diagrams allow teams to collect all of their ideas from brainstorms and organize them into logical groupings. Example of Affinity Diagram Softwares: Creately

Storyboarding is a process that allows companies to visually map out customer journeys in order to identify where they want the product to be most impactful; this exercise essentially consists of creating detailed sketches of the ways in which customers use products and interact with brands. You can use Theplot software to create Storyboarding.

Business Modeling Canvas (BMC) is a tool that companies can use to map out all aspects of their business and product; each section of the model contains information that should be considered while planning or designing a product.

Voice of Customer (VOC) is a technique used to identify customers' thoughts, feelings, and needs in order to create more value for them; the best way to accomplish this is by having customers provide feedback through surveys.

As technology advances, new options for product discovery come onto the market almost every day. These include online user testing platforms, product discovery tools that allow product managers to manage product development, design, and UX together. Product discovery is here to stay.

Best Practices for Product Discovery

Here are the product development best practices you need to follow when it comes to product discovery:

  • Conduct market analysis and research
  • Use product discovery tools
  • Analyze what's going on in your industry and who the main competitors are, so you can position your product accordingly
  • Pitch product concepts to stakeholders
  • Refine product concepts based on stakeholder feedback
  • Set product specifications before product development starts

Product Discovery Process

The first step of the product discovery process is to identify a problem that people have. It doesn’t matter what kind of business is run, every good company should be solving problems for their customers and users as much as possible. If you know the target audience well enough, it will become apparent which problems they face on a daily basis. This stage may take some time – but keep at it until you find an issue that many different types of people struggle with!

Once you understand what problem you want to solve, you need to brainstorm all the ways in which the current and potential audience could use this solution. Don't worry about whether or not any ideas can actually be made into real products; during this phase, quantity over quality is the goal. To get started, it’s important to map out all the ideas on a whiteboard and start grouping them together.

It may seem like we've gone over this point already – but don't worry about whether or not any of these ideas can actually be made into real products during this stage! During product discovery, it's more important for us to put as many ideas down as possible without worrying too much about their feasibility at first (although you should prioritize some concepts over others). Get creative and think outside the box; if an idea doesn't work today, that doesn't mean that there isn't something valuable here worth pursuing further. Use tools such as IdeaScale and Quora to help you brainstorm new concepts and collect data from the people who would use those products.

This is where we start to think about how these ideas can be turned into actual real-life product designs that your customers will want to pay for! It's important to remember that, as a business owner or entrepreneur, it’s always better to ask forgiveness than permission – so don't wait before testing out any of your concepts with potential users. You may not have access to prototyping tools like Solidworks just yet; however, there are numerous free online programs available today which allow us to test our assumptions by creating wireframes and paper prototypes.

Although many entrepreneurs tend to focus on prototyping their solution in detail at this stage, it's important to remember that this is simply one of the many steps involved in product discovery. It's also not unusual for entrepreneurs to get caught up here and spend more time trying different designs than actually getting out there and testing them with potential users! If possible, try to find a balance between prototyping your solution in full detail while still being sure you’re talking with people who would potentially buy or use something like what you have designed.

After spending some time digging through data on IdeaScale (or similar platforms) and creating prototypes using design tools; finally, reach the stage where your product idea has been fully vetted by real customers! This is where you’ll know whether or not your solution is something people are willing to pay for – but don't get too excited about that just yet. Although it feels great to have finally completed the product discovery process, there's still a lot of work involved in moving your idea from a prototype into an actual real-life business!

Having gone through every step listed above, you should feel much more confident in taking your product ideas and turning them into actual products customers will want to buy. The next steps after this point may vary depending on what kind of company you run; however, they typically include hiring team members (or yourself), setting up a web presence using the latest technology, refining user interfaces, and determining marketing strategies to help you reach your target audience.

However, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for product discovery. This process will differ depending on where you and your business are at the moment; however, it's always a good idea to keep these best practices in mind when taking your next steps!

Common Mistakes Made When Doing Product Discovery

Following these product development best practices can help you avoid common product discovery mistakes, such as:

  • Failing at any of the product discovery steps will lead to product failure.
  • Not gathering enough information about customers and the market
  • Not knowing who their product should appeal to or what product requirements they should meet
  • Trying to do product discovery in real-time (ie. trying to do product discovery while product development takes place) (Ie..-doing-it-in-code-)
  • Not having product specifications before product development starts
  • Lacking communication between internal stakeholders
  • Failing to gather feedback from customers
  • Failing at marketing their product effectively

The Future of Product Discovery

In order for a business idea to become a success, it needs to be validated by customers first. By leveraging tools such as surveys, interviews, and usability studies product managers have been able to validate successful product ideas before product development starts.

Product discovery is taking product management to the next level by not just focusing on product development but rather by focusing on product validation, which means product managers need to pay close attention to make sure that they don't miss critical product planning stages. This has transformed product managers into product leaders who focus not only on product development but also on bringing ideas to life by carefully validating an idea before product development begins. Product managers are required to be more data-driven and understand their customers in-depth (through research) so that they can pitch their product concepts to stakeholders successfully during road mapping sessions.


Product Discovery is the process of finding, researching, and selecting new products. It’s important to understand that product discovery can be done in many different ways. The future will bring more innovation with technology but it also means there are larger challenges ahead for those who want to find these innovative solutions. As a product owner, you need to stay on top of trends so you know how your customer interacts with them and what they like or dislike about them.

If this sounds daunting, don't worry! We're here to help make sure your marketing strategy stays relevant by giving you guidance on everything from product discovery tools to best practices. Let's connect today about how we can make sure your business remains successful as time goes on!



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