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5 key tips for continuous product discovery
What’s the main goal of product discovery?
Creating a product that meets your users’ needs.
Your users’ needs evolve, though.
That’s why you should implement continuous product discovery.
It’ll help you stay ahead of your competition and consistently deliver value to your users.
In this article, we bring you 5 key tips for continuous product discovery.
Table of Contents
Put your users first
You can’t build a successful product without knowing your users.
As Steve Blank, an American entrepreneur and educator, put it:
“There are no facts inside your building; get outside.”
To understand your users, you need to get out of your office and interact directly with them.
That’s what continuous product discovery is all about.
““At a minimum, weekly touchpoints with customers by the team building the product, where they’re conducting small research activities in pursuit of a desired product outcome.”
Regularly interacting with your users is the only way you can understand their needs and pain points.
This’ll help your organization become customer-centric.
By doing continuous product discovery, you’ll not only build a better product but also become more successful.
And that’s not just idle talk.
The most successful companies in the world are customer-centric.
Take Apple, for example.
Their philosophy is to start with the customer experience and work backwards towards the technology.
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Statistics also show that customer-centric companies outperform their peers.
A Deloitte study showed that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than those not focused on the customer.
This goes to show just how important putting your users first is.
So, what are some ways to keep on top of your users’ needs?
The best way is regularly holding user interviews.
One-on-one conversations with your users will help you gain valuable insights about your product.
Of course, it might not be feasible to interview users every week.
You should use other research methods, too.
Use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods for the best results.
What you’re looking for is to create a feedback loop.
It’ll help you continuously collect, analyze, and act on the feedback you receive.
And that’s the main goal of continuous product discovery.
Implementing it will help you get a deeper understanding of your users and create products that meet their real needs.
Encourage cross-functional collaboration
Every good product discovery team is cross-functional.
Your continuous product discovery team is no exception.
Effective cross-functional collaboration is key if you want it to be successful.
Cross-functional teams bring together different perspectives and expertise.
This helps them build a successful, well-rounded product.
And they’re not a passing fad, either.
Statistics reveal that cross-functional teams lead to higher project success rates.
A study by the Harvard Business Review found that cross-functional teams that get strong executive support have a 76% project success rate.
This is in contrast to 19% for teams with only moderate cross-functional support.
Take Spotify, for example.
They were one of the first to implement cross-functional collaboration on a large scale.
Their agile cross-functional teams consist of:
- Product managers
They all work together to deliver a great user experience (UX).
This helps them add innovative features and stay ahead of their competitors.
It’s one of the reasons why they have over double the market share compared to their nearest competitors – 30.5% to Apple Music’s 13.7%.
So, what can you do to encourage cross-functional collaboration in continuous product discovery?
The first thing you should do is break down the silos in your organization.
What this means is removing divisions between departments.
You should encourage open communication and information sharing among your teams.
This’ll help create a culture of collaboration in your organization.
You should also promote shared goals for your discovery team.
Align the team around a common product vision so that everyone works towards the same outcomes.
It’s also important you create a safe space for ideation.
Your team members should feel comfortable sharing their ideas and challenging assumptions without fearing criticism.
It’s a good idea to hold regular meetings and workshops to discuss new ideas and your users’ feedback on your product.
This’ll ensure everyone on the discovery team is in the loop about what’s happening during continuous discovery.
There’s a variety of collaborative digital tools you can also use to do that, such as:
In short, cross-functional collaboration will help your continuous discovery team address user needs more quickly and efficiently.
And that means they’ll build a better product.
Use data-driven insights
“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.”
This quote by Daniel Keys Moran, American science fiction writer, highlights just how important data is when it comes to understanding information.
That’s why it’s important to use data-driven insights in continuous product discovery.
They’ll help you make informed decisions based on evidence rather than assumptions.
This way, you’ll be able to meet your users’ real needs.
The benefits of data-driven decision making go beyond just improving your product.
They’ll also improve business performance.
According to a McKinsey Global Survey, organizations that employ data-driven decision-making are 1.5 times more likely to report improved business performance.
So, how can you use data-driven insights in continuous product discovery?
First, you need to set clear goals for data collection and analysis.
A useful framework you can use is the SMART goals framework, pictured below.
Let’s say you’ve gotten user feedback and made changes to your product.
You’ll need to decide which metrics you’re going to track to measure the impact of those changes.
For example, one of your goals might be “reduce churn rate by 15%”.
Some key metrics you should look at are:
- Churn rate
- Bounce rate
- Click-through rate
- Retention rate
Pay close attention to any changes that happen after every update.
There are plenty of analytics tools available that’ll do the heavy lifting for you, such as:
- Google Analytics
- Crazy Egg
Using them will enable you to understand how users interact with your product.
You’ll also have a clear picture of the impact of the changes you’ve made.
This way, you’ll be able to identify and solve your users’ pain points.
Metrics don’t tell the whole story, though.
For successful continuous product discovery, you’ll need direct feedback from your users.
This’ll give you a better understanding of your users’ needs and pain points.
To do this, you’ll need to do continuous user research and create a feedback loop.
So, what are some methods you can use?
- Social media
- Focus groups
- A/B testing
Of course, your users should be your main focus in continuous product discovery.
However, it’s important you also keep an eye on industry trends and your competitors.
Take note of any updates or new features they add to their product.
You’ll be able to identify evolving user needs and market demands.
So, if you see that a feature your competitor added resonates with their users, you should think about adding it yourself.
Using data-driven insights in continuous discovery will help you improve your product and stay ahead of the competition.
Embrace iterative design
No product or feature is perfect from the get-go.
The most successful products go through many iterations during their lifecycle.
Constantly improving your product is at the heart of continuous product discovery.
Take Google Maps, for example.
Google continuously adds new features and updates Google maps to make it more usable and useful to their users.
Pictured below is what their last major redesign in mid-2016 looked like.
They release beta versions to gather feedback when introducing new features.
That’s what you should do, too.
The quickest and easiest way to do it is to use iterative prototyping.
Iterative prototyping means that you create and test new features in small and incremental stages.
Let’s say you’re thinking about adding a new feature to your product.
By using iterative prototyping, you’ll be able to quickly gather user feedback and validate your feature idea.
This way, you’ll save a lot of time if it turns out it doesn’t resonate with your users.
You’ll also be able to quickly test and validate several ideas.
So, how can you do it in continuous discovery?
First, start by making low-fidelity prototypes.
You can make simple sketches or low-fidelity wireframes to quickly visualize your ideas.
This’ll help you decide if your idea is viable without investing significant resources.
It’ll also help your discovery team to refine the idea before making a higher fidelity prototype.
You should get user feedback at this point, too.
This way, you’ll be able to catch any mistakes before you move on to more complex designs.
Continuous improvement based on user feedback is key for continuous discovery.
You should gather user feedback at every stage of prototyping.
Then, your final product will align closely with their needs and expectations.
To make that happen, create an interactive prototype before launching the new feature.
It closely simulates your users’ experience when using your product.
With interactive prototypes, you’ll get more realistic feedback.
You’ll also spot usability issues or pain points you need to solve before launching it.
By embracing iterative design and continuous discovery, you’ll ensure new features meet your users’ needs.
This’ll help you retain your existing users and make your product more attractive to new users.
Learn from failures and adapt
Don’t fear failure, learn from it.
As Henry Ford once said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Adopting this mindset is key for successful continuous product discovery.
This way, you’ll be able to transform setbacks into opportunities for growth and innovation.
Failure is an unavoidable part of doing business.
Take Amazon, for example.
The Fire Phone was a well-publicized commercial failure.
But, did they give up?
No, they learned from this failure and used the insights to innovate and create successful products like the Amazon Echo and Alexa.
Embracing failures and being adaptable paves the way for improvement by knowing which mistakes you should avoid.
So, how can you make this happen in continuous discovery?
First, you should encourage a blame-free culture.
Your discovery team should feel comfortable sharing mistakes and failures without fear of repercussions.
You should encourage them to take responsibility for their mistakes and try to figure out why they made them in the first place.
They won’t be able to do that if they fear the consequences.
You should also hold post-mortem meetings after every major iteration of your product.
Here, you should collectively analyze what went wrong and what went right.
That way, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement in future iterations.
You should also be as adaptable as possible.
This means pivoting if an idea doesn’t work out.
You should always be open to changing course if your idea doesn’t resonate with your users.
A good way to minimize the chance of that happening is to continuously iterate and experiment on your product.
We’ve already talked about why iterative design is important for continuous discovery.
Use the insights you got from both successful and failed iterations to improve your product.
Learning lessons from failures is key to avoiding further failures in the future.
Adopting continuous product discovery is a great way you can consistently improve your product.
This’ll help you keep meeting your users’ needs and increase your user retention rate.
To recap, these are the 5 key tips you should follow for successful continuous discovery:
- Put your users first
- Encourage cross-functional collaboration
- Use data-driven insights
- Embrace iterative design
- Learn from failures and adapt