Key product discovery roles: UX/UI designer

12 min read
July 5, 2023

A well-executed product discovery process is key to successful product development further down the line.

By design, product discovery is an intensely collaborative process.

This is why it’s so important to assemble a great team when you’re doing product discovery.

We’ve already talked about the 4 key product discovery roles we employ here at DECODE and broke down the role of solution architect in product discovery.

Now, let’s examine the role of UX/UI designer in product discovery in greater detail.

Let’s get into it!

What is a UX/UI designer?

A UX/UI designer in product discovery plays a key role in the process, being responsible for the overall design of the product.

But, what exactly is a UX/UI designer? And why are they important for the success of your product discovery process?

A UX/UI designer is, as the name suggests, is responsible for user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.

Let’s start by defining UX and UI design first.

UX design is the process of building easy to use products that are also enjoyable – the main aim of UX design is to understand and fulfill user needs by doing thorough research to create intuitive, user-centric products.

In other words, UX design provides the user with the best possible experience when using the product in an effort to retain them as an user for as long as possible.

On the other hand, UI design is the process of designing a product’s appearance, interactivity and the overall “feel” of a product.

UX vs UI

UX vs UI

UI design is a key part of the overall UX design process.

So, if it’s a part of the overall UX design process, why is UI design highlighted so prominently in the title of the role in our product discovery process?

The reason is our focus on building digital products.

The user interface is key to the overall user experience in every digital product – without a well-designed UI, it’s impossible to deliver a good product.

The point of product discovery is to create products that fulfill your users’ needs.

The importance of great UX can’t be understated.

It’s perfectly illustrated by the following statistics – improving the user experience can raise key performance indicators (KPIs) by as much as 80% and 90% of users won’t return to a site solely due to bad UX.

This is exactly why the role of UX/UI designer is so important to the success of the product discovery process.

What does a UX/UI designer do during product discovery?

Now that we’ve defined what the UX/UI designer role is in product discovery and their importance to its success, let’s talk about their specific responsibilities during the discovery process.

The UX/UI designer’s main responsibilities during product discovery are:

  • Leading product discovery workshops
  • Conducting UX research
  • Helping define features and creating user journeys
  • Creating wireframes and user flows
  • Conducting user testing

Let’s discuss each of these in greater detail. 

Leads product discovery workshops

The first step of the product discovery process is holding a product discovery workshop.

Product discovery workshops are the initial interaction between the product discovery team and other relevant stakeholders, including you, the client.

Our UX/UI designer is responsible for leading these workshops and will facilitate cooperation between everyone involved during the workshop.

Discovery workshops are the most intensely collaborative part of the overall discovery process.

This is the point where the stage is set for the rest of the discovery process.

Frame 6672

As pictured above, discovery workshops help you align business goals, user needs and the value proposition of your product to devise a strategy for your product’s further development.

So, what is usually on the agenda of a discovery workshop?

Every discovery workshop, just like every product, is unique.

However, some agenda items are universal, such as:

  • Setting KPIs
  • Presenting the product vision
  • Setting the priorities for discovery and development
  • Identifying and defining who your users are

Other elements, such as creating user personas and user stories, can also be a key part of the agenda if it makes sense for that particular product.

That’s the beauty of product discovery workshops.

They’re adaptable to your specific circumstances and our UX/UI designer will make sure the workshop agenda is thorough and has all the necessary elements to maximize your product’s chance of success.

So, what exactly are the benefits of holding a product discovery workshop?

Some of the main benefits include:

  • Helping reduce cost
  • Improving product delivery
  • Helping meet your users’ needs
  • Speeding up production
  • Aligning everyone on the project

At the end of the workshop, you’ll have a deeper understanding of your users, your value proposition and your product’s development strategy.

Product discovery workshops also help everyone involved in the discovery process get on the same page about the work going forward which helps avoid misunderstandings and costly re-dos in the future.

Conducts UX research

Creating products that fulfill users’ needs and address their pain points is impossible without thorough UX research.

That’s why conducting UX research is one of the most important tasks of our UX/UI designer in product discovery.

Let’s define UX research first.

UX research is the study of target users and their needs in order to add realistic contexts and gather insights to inform the product design process.

It’s an essential step if your goal is to build genuinely user-centered products, as by doing UX research you’ll get invaluable perspectives on your product from your users.

User research and UX research are commonly used interchangeably however UX research is a broader field as it can include other research activities such as competitive analysis and market research.

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UX research methods

As pictured above, UX research methods can be subdivided into 4 types:

  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Attitudinal
  • Behavioral 

Qualitative research methods seek to explain the “why” i.e. why users hold a certain opinion about your product.

Common qualitative research methods like user interviews and focus groups will help you gather deeper insights about your users and their needs, motivations and problems.

Quantitative research methods are data-based and can easily be expressed by concrete metrics that you can track.

product discovery

Learn more about our discovery process →

App development starts with product discovery…

These methods, like A/B testing and heatmaps, give you specific and measurable results which you can use to inform the rest of your discovery process.

Attitudinal research methods track your users’ opinions and what they have to say about your product.

On the other hand, behavioral research methods track what your users do when using your product.

The point of UX research is to get a holistic view of where your product stands with your target users and to help in validating your initial idea to ensure that it becomes successful.

Helps define features and creates user journeys

Defining your product’s features is a key part of the product discovery process.

Our UX/UI designer in product discovery will collaborate with you and the rest of the discovery team to define your product’s features that best address your users’ needs.

The point of doing this is to optimize your product for future success.

It’s better to have 1 feature that fully solves your users’ problems than to have 10 which don’t provide them with any extra value.

Our product discovery process will help you identify and define features that will do exactly that and add to your product’s value proposition.

User journey maps are a useful tool you can use to help you with identifying and defining the features of your product.

5 stages of user journey

5 stages of user journey

User journeys are a representation of the sequence of steps a user takes in order to accomplish a certain goal when using your product. 

In short, user journeys describe the user’s experience from discovering your product all the way to becoming a customer.

The 5 most common stages of a user journey are:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Purchase
  • Retention
  • Advocacy

Now, these stages are not set in stone and you can modify or rename them according to your needs.

However, what’s key to creating a useful user journey is to describe every step of your user’s interaction with your product from the moment they’ve become aware of it up until the moment that they become (and remain) active users.

User journeys are more than just a high-level overview of how your users interact with your product.

Journeys should also describe their emotions at every stage of their interaction with the product.

This will help you identify their pain points and opportunities for solving them.

In short, user journeys help you put yourself in your user’s shoes and are an invaluable tool for identifying new opportunities for your product’s development and empathizing with your target users.

Creates wireframes and user flows

Once you’ve done your initial UX research and defined the features your product will have, the next step is to create wireframes and user flows for your product.

This is the point in the product discovery process where our UX/UI designer really comes into their own.

Let’s define both and discuss why they’re important for product discovery.

A wireframe is a 2D illustration that acts as a visual guide and shows the screen layout of your main features.



Wireframes don’t contain every screen your product will have but only the key screens and interface elements.

The point of a wireframe is to provide a clear visualization of your product idea to others – they should be able to tell what your product is about and its main features at a glance.

They’re a key planning tool for quickly validating your idea.

Wireframes can be both low-fidelity and high-fidelity, depending on where you are in the discovery process.

Low-fidelity wireframes are great for quickly visualizing your idea while high-fidelity wireframes are the backbone upon which you’ll build your product’s mockups and prototypes.

User flows are diagrams representing the path a typical user takes when using your product to complete a task.

They represent how each of the features are connected to each other and how users can access them when using your product.

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When you make a user flow, you can immediately see if there are any features that are difficult to access and a well-designed user flow will help enhance your product’s usability and accessibility.

Wireframes and user flows can be combined into wireflows – this is when the screens of a wireframe act as elements within the user flow diagram.

Both wireframes and user flows let you optimize your features and their layout while also validating your initial idea even further.

Conducts user testing

Once you’ve completed your wireframes and user flows, the next step is getting your users to test and evaluate your product.

Conducting these tests is one of the key tasks our UX/UI designer has in product discovery.

User testing, often also called usability testing, is used to conclusively validate your idea and all the work that’s been done during product discovery.

Making products that meet your users’ needs is impossible without verifying they can use them without a hitch.

Why usability test?

Why usability test?

Usability testing will help you identify if there are any problems with your product’s design.

It’s crucial you correctly identify and then rectify any problems before creating your minimum viable product (MVP).

You’ll also discover new opportunities for improving your design as well as gain even deeper insights into your users’ preferences and behavior when using your product.

For example, you might discover that your users prefer dark mode over light mode when using your product and implementing a dark mode setting will improve the UX of your product.

Industry professionals agree that user testing is very useful for gaining insights about your users and improving your product’s UX.

In a 2020 User Fountain report, user testing was rated the highest out of all methods for gathering user insights with an average score of 8.7 out of 10, the next highest being digital analytics with a score of 7.7 out of 10.

User testing methods can be classified into 3 broad categories:

  • Qualitative or quantitative
  • Moderated or unmoderated
  • Remote or in-person

Our UX/UI designer will choose whichever of these user testing types is most appropriate for your product, depending on your budget, goals and product type.

In any case, gathering data about how your users use your product is extremely important for your product’s development and is one of the key benefits of doing product discovery.

This will also make developing your product a much smoother process, as you’ll have all the information needed to create a product that meets your users’ needs and delivers great UX.


A UX/UI designer is one of the key roles we employ in our product discovery process.

So, what exactly does a UX/UI designer do during product discovery?

To recap, their main responsibilities are:

  • Leading product discovery workshops
  • Conducting UX research
  • Helping define features and creating user journeys
  • Creating wireframes and user flows
  • Conducting user testing

If you want to learn more about our product discovery process, feel free to reach out or read our other articles on product discovery.

Written by

Karlo Mihanovic

Tech Advisor

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