6 key tips for successful product discovery

11 min read
December 8, 2023

If you want to build a successful product, it needs to meet your users’ needs.

And to do that, you need product discovery.

But, you need to do it right.

That’s why we’ll discuss 6 key tips to make your product discovery successful.

Let’s go!

What is product discovery?

Product discovery is the process of researching your market and validating your idea before developing your product.

The point of product discovery is identifying and meeting your users’ needs.

And this means answering several important questions like:

  • What problem is our product solving?
  • Who are we solving it for?
  • Why is our product valuable to our users?
  • How does our product fit into our target market?

And the answers to these questions will show you if your idea is viable or not.

This is an essential step because it can save you from making a costly mistake and developing a product that doesn’t meet your users’ needs.

But, if your idea is viable, doing product discovery first will give you a strong foundation for further development.

And that’s why it’s so important.

Key tips for successful product discovery

Now that we’ve defined product discovery, we’ll discuss some key tips to make it successful.

Set up a product discovery workshop

By design, product discovery is an intensely collaborative process.

And the most collaborative activity in every discovery process is the product discovery workshop.

Discovery workshops are where the magic happens.

This is where everyone on your discovery team works together to validate your product idea and make sure it’s viable before you develop it further.

But, how exactly do you set up a discovery workshop?

product discovery

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App development starts with product discovery…

For starters, you need to set clear goals i.e. which outputs and outcomes you want to achieve by the end of the workshop.

This will also help you create a clear and focused agenda.

So, for a design-focused workshop, the goals might be:

Also, you need to choose the right team to participate in the workshop – ideally, between 4 and 7 people to keep it manageable.

But, you should always include your core discovery team i.e. the product trio.

The product trio

source: Maze

You should also include other relevant stakeholders, like subject matter experts (SMEs) or extra designers or engineers, depending on your needs.

But, the most important thing you need to set up your discovery workshop is a clear agenda.

So, if you’re just starting product discovery, your workshop agenda might include:

At the end of the workshop, you should have a clear idea whether your product idea is worth pursuing or not.

And that’s why workshops are such a key part of product discovery.

Why product discovery workshops are important

  • Aligns all stakeholders – holding a discovery workshop brings together all relevant stakeholders and will help you get everyone on the same page from the beginning
  • Helps you get diverse insights – getting a variety perspectives and opinions from your workshop participants will help you build a well-rounded product
  • Builds team cohesion – discovery workshops are a great way to encourage collaboration and bring the discovery team closer together

Validate your product idea

One of the main benefits of product discovery is validating your product idea.

Think of it like this – would you jump out of a plane if you weren’t sure your parachute would work or not?

Of course you wouldn’t.

And you shouldn’t build a product if you aren’t sure your idea is viable or not, either.

Just think about these statistics – according to CB Insights, having no market need is one of the top reasons why startups fail:

Reasons why startups fail

source: CB Insights

Validating your idea before launching your product is a great way to prevent that from happening to you.

So, how exactly do you validate your idea?

First, you need to set a product hypothesis – this can be something as simple as “our users will find value in using our product”.

Just keep in mind that your hypothesis needs to be falsifiable i.e. it can be disproven.

Next, you need to test your hypothesis.

You should use various types of research to do that, like:

  • Market research
  • Competitive analysis
  • User research
  • Social media research

Once you’ve done the research, you’ll see if your idea is validated or not.

If it isn’t, you can pivot to another idea.

And if it is, you can continue with discovery and development.

Why validating your product idea is important

  • Ensures product-market fit – by validating your product idea, you’ll make sure your product actually meets your users’ needs
  • Minimizes the risk of failure – if you make sure your idea is solid before committing to development, it will have a significantly higher chance of success
  • Identifies your target audience – a major benefit of validating your idea is that you’ll also identify your target audience, which is crucial for your product’s success

Encourage cross-functional collaboration

We’ve already established that product discovery is a collaborative process by design.

And every good discovery team is also cross-functional.

Cross-functional collaboration is key to the success of product discovery, as your team’s diverse perspectives and expertise will help you build a well-rounded product.

Functional vs cross-functional teams

And it’s not just a meaningless corporate buzzword, either.

A Harvard Business Review study showed that cross-functional teams who had strong backing from executives reached a 76% project success rate.

Compare that to a 19% success rate for cross-functional teams with only moderate support.

These figures show just how effective cross-functional teams can be if they’re properly supported.

So, how can you encourage cross-functional collaboration?

The first step is breaking down silos in your organization i.e. removing divisions between your various departments.

This is a great way to promote a collaborative culture where different departments freely share ideas and information.

Next, make sure you create a safe, inclusive space for ideation during discovery.


Everyone on your discovery team should be able to freely speak their mind and share their ideas and concerns.

And that’s essential if you want your product discovery to be successful.

Why cross-functional collaboration is important

  • More informed decision-making – cross-functional collaboration will help your discovery team make informed decisions based on diverse perspectives
  • Speeds up product development – if your designers and engineers, for example, work closely from the start, they’ll be more efficient and that will speed up development
  • Higher employee engagement – cross-functional collaboration encourages your employees to engage more with the product discovery process

Interview your users

The main goal of product discovery is to identify and meet your users’ needs.

To do that, you need to do thorough user research.

And user interviews are one of the best ways to understand your users’ behavior and pain points.

If you do them right, you’ll get great feedback you can use to improve your product and increase its chances of success.

So, how can you make sure you nail your user interviews during product discovery?

The key step is recruiting the right users to interview.

They need to be representative of your target audience and your product’s end users.

Target market vs target audience vs target personas

If they’re not, you’re going to get unusable feedback.

Next, you have to prepare an interview guide.

This is where you’ll put all the questions you want to ask your users.

It serves, like the name suggests, as a guide – you don’t have to follow it to the letter.

Also, since user interviews are a qualitative research method, include only open-ended questions.

open-ended vs close-ended questions

source: Delighted

This way, you’ll get more detailed answers and insights from your users – and that’s exactly what you should be looking for.

Another important tip to keep in mind is to interview one user at a time.

You need to dedicate enough time and attention to your interview if you want in-depth answers.

Finally, once you’ve interviewed your users, you need to analyze their feedback and implement it.

And that’s even more important than the feedback itself.

Why user interviews are important

  • Direct insight from users – user interviews give you firsthand information about what your users want and expect from your product
  • Helps you identify user pain points – interviewing your users is the best way to discover specific challenges and issues they face
  • Helps with feature prioritization – your users will tell you which features they want to use and you should prioritize

Analyze your competition

If you want your product to be successful, you need to differentiate your product from your competition during discovery.

And you can’t do that if you don’t research your competitors.

That’s where competitive analysis comes in.

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It’s a key part of market research and will help you position your product on the market effectively.

So, how do you do competitive analysis?

The obvious first step is identifying your competition – you likely already have an idea of who your main competitors are.

But, you need to research them in-depth and categorize them as primary, secondary, or tertiary competitors.

Primary vs secondary vs tertiary competitors

Once you’ve done that, you should analyze their 4 Ps:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

This will give you a clear picture of what their product does, how they position themselves in the market, and how they interact with their customers.

You should also do more detailed analyses, like:

The end result you’ll get from these analyses is a deep understanding of your competitors’ products.

They’ll also help you identify gaps in the market and unmet user needs your product can fulfill.

And that’s what product discovery is all about.

Why competitive analysis is important

  • Helps you understand your target market – competitive analysis will help you understand market dynamics (growth, trends etc.) in your target market
  • Identifies market gaps – analyzing your competition will help you find gaps in the market your product can fill
  • Helps you position your product – a thorough competitive analysis will inform you how to position your product to stand out from the competition

Make discovery continuous

Thinking that product discovery is a one-and-done process is an easy mistake to make.

But, your users’ needs and your market evolve.

And your product needs to evolve with them if you want sustained success.

That’s where continuous product discovery comes in.

Teresa Torres, author of Continuous Discovery Habits, defined it like this:

“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.”

But, what do you need to do to make that happen?

For starters, you need a dedicated discovery team.

The core of the team should be the product trio, who we’ve mentioned earlier.

You can also include other members in your discovery team, depending on your specific needs, like:

  • Data analysts
  • Engineers
  • User researchers
  • Business analysts 

But, the most important thing you need is a feedback loop.

Customer feedback loop

source: Convas

With a feedback loop in place, you’ll be able to continuously collect, analyze, and act on feedback you receive from your users.

You should use both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather that feedback, such as:

  • User interviews
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Focus groups
  • Feedback forms
  • Social media listening

This way, you’ll keep your finger on the pulse of your users’ needs and trends in your market.

Then, you should adjust your product accordingly, which will set it up for long-term success.

And that’s why you should make product discovery continuous.

Why continuous product discovery is important

  • Helps you adapt to users’ evolving needs – continuous discovery is the best way to adjust your product to your users’ evolving needs
  • Builds strong relationships with your customers – being constantly in touch with your customers will help you build strong, long-term relationships with them
  • Reduces long-term risk – having a steady stream of user feedback will help you make informed decisions and minimize long-term risks

Product discovery tips: FAQs

Product discovery is the process of researching your market and validating your product idea before developing it.

Product discovery is important because it validates your product idea before you commit to full development – this will help you minimize the risks involved and develop your product faster.

If you want to make your product discovery successful, you should:

  • Set up a product discovery workshop
  • Validate your product idea
  • Encourage cross-functional collaboration
  • Interview your users
  • Analyze your competition
  • Make discovery continuous

You should implement continuous discovery because it:

  • Helps you adapt to evolving user needs
  • Builds strong relationships with users
  • Reduces long-term risks

Need discovery for your product?

Do you have a great idea for an app but don’t know where to start?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll test your idea and make sure it fits the market before turning it into reality.

Feel free to get in touch with us and if you want to learn more, check out our product discovery process.

Written by

Ivan Kardum

Lead product manager

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