The importance of product discovery 

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “What is product discovery and why is it important?

Product discovery marks the beginning of a journey. Without a product discovery phase, teams lose clarity of their direction. It's the compass that guides product and design teams to success.

Let's look at product discovery, discuss its importance and share some best practices to ensure your team can successfully execute this phase of product development. 

What is product discovery

Product discovery is an integral design and development phase. During product discovery, the design or product team works to identify and define the right product or feature to create. This phase seeks to determine whether the approach is based on user needs, market conditions or organizational goals. The main goal of product discovery is to develop a valuable, viable and workable product. 

Product discovery steps

There are a few common steps that most teams take in their product discovery process. 

User research

Researchers conduct user interviews, surveys and usability testing to better understand pain points. Product teams must understand the user's perspective to build a product that addresses user needs.

Market analysis

Product teams analyze the competitive landscape and market trends to identify opportunities and gaps in the market. Competitive research helps you position your product effectively and make informed decisions.

Defining the problem

The research leads to the creation of a clear and specific problem statement. This statement outlines the details of the challenge the team will try to solve. 


Design teams often run workshops and design exercises to develop solution concepts. These initial concepts may include inspirational items such as mood boards and examples of existing user experiences or rough sketches and wireframes. 


The team then collaborates to eliminate untenable concepts and prioritize potential solutions they think could work. To weed out the bad ideas, design teams will often present their concepts and vote based on criteria such as user value, business impact and technical feasibility.

Prototyping and testing

After prioritization, design teams create low-fidelity prototypes or mock-ups of the selected solutions. They identify test participants that fit their target audience and then run usability tests, interviews or surveys to test the prototypes and gather feedback.

Iteration and validation

The team makes incremental refinements until the product is validated via positive feedback and high reports of satisfaction from test participants. The design team can then hand the prototype off to the development team with confidence that the product will connect with users.  

The importance of product discovery

Product discovery plays a crucial role in the success of a product or project for several reasons. 

Creating a user-centric approach

Product discovery focuses on understanding and addressing user needs. Conducting thorough UX research and involving users throughout the process ensures that the team designs the product with the end users in mind. This increases the chances of creating a product that resonates with its target audience. 

Market relevance

Through market analysis and competitive research, product teams stay informed about market trends and changing customer preferences. This means that the product remains relevant in a dynamic business environment.

Risk reduction

By validating assumptions and ideas early in the product development process, product discovery helps identify and lessen potential risks. It reduces the chances of wasting time and resources on building a product that may fail.

Efficient resource allocation

The product discovery phase allows teams to prioritize features and solutions. This helps the team allocate resources effectively and develop the most valuable features first. Sometimes, the product discovery phase reveals that a product is unnecessary or unfeasible – saving organizations time and money. 

Alignment with organizational goals

Product discovery helps align the product's direction with the organization's strategic goals. These include revenue growth, customer acquisition or competitive advantage.

Innovation and creativity

Product discovery encourages teams to solve user problems by exploring innovative solutions. This can lead them to develop creative, unique and competitive products. 

Continuous improvement

Product discovery is an iterative process that continues throughout the product's life cycle. It allows teams to adapt to changing circumstances, gather new insights and make improvements as needed to ensure the product remains valuable and competitive.

User satisfaction

By validating the product with real users, product discovery empowers teams to deliver a product that satisfies customers. Focusing on user needs leads to higher user retention and loyalty.

Creating the right features and innovations

By forcing design teams to do their due diligence and validate ideas, the product discovery phase can reduce rework and ensure that development efforts are allocated to the right features and solutions.

Data-informed decision-making

Product discovery encourages data-informed decision-making. The team relies on user feedback, market data and metrics to make informed choices about feature development and product improvement. 

Who is responsible for product discovery? 

Product discovery can look different depending on the organization. Sometimes, the entire process is owned by the design team. Oftentimes, at larger organizations, the process incorporates the expertise of many different departments. 


Product or project managers are often responsible for overseeing product discovery. They define the product vision, prioritize features and make strategic decisions. They also communicate the product's goals and user needs to the development team. 

UX researchers

UX researchers conduct user interviews, surveys and usability testing. By doing so, they gather insights into user needs, behaviors and pain points. These findings inform the product's direction. They may be involved throughout the product development life cycle to help measure the success of product changes and identify areas for improvement.

Product designers

Designers create prototypes, mock-ups and user interfaces, confirming the product's design aligns with user needs and usability.


Development teams work with product managers and designers to understand the technical feasibility of proposed solutions. They provide input on what the team can build within the available resources and timeframes.


Product discovery may also involve various other stakeholders within the organization. Executives, marketing teams and customer support may also provide input. 

Product discovery is an ongoing and iterative process that continues throughout the product development life cycle. It fosters innovation and encourages continuous improvement. Through product discovery, the team can be confident that the product aligns with user needs, market demand and organizational objectives.