Digital Product Discovery: 3 Essential Steps to Design a Product People Will Love
Author: Nisarg Mehta
Date Published: 09/28/2020
Did you know that every year, close to 30,000 new consumer products are launched, out of which 80% of them fail?
Everything has to have a reason and purpose for existence. Period.
One that stands aloof with no reason whatsoever is bound to fall.
Not sure about other sectors but in business, this holds true. Your business can only run when it has a problem to solve. At the very heart of running a business lies the aspect of capitalizing on an existing problem by offering a solution in the form of a product or a service.
That’s what I’ve learned while running a product development agency, Techtic Solutions.
Now, people facing the problem would look for an ideal solution. And when they stumble upon your product or service – through targeting and marketing of course – they would opt for it.
This translates to revenue and more of it to profits.
This is a scenario where a problem is solved. But imagine a contrary scenario.
You start a business on an assumption. A gamble that you don’t realize yet.
You identify an opportunity and decide to launch a business. You wait, your market, you push sales but hardly any progress happens.
As months go by, your business is going down and you’re sinking in losses. Though late, it is at this point that you realize your whole idea about your business was wrong.
Here is a statistic to give you some perspective.
According to the study conducted by The Product Development And Management Association, product failure rates varied across industries. While healthcare constitutes about 35% of product failures, consumer goods constitute 49%.
Read More: How to build a Contagious Digital Product?
In your case, you never identified a problem in the first place. All you had in mind was an idea that would look good in the market. You assumed the tastes and preferences of your target audience and blindly believed they have a problem at hand. Or in the worst case, you assumed they would enjoy your product or service.
You looked at the profits of running a business and overlooked if it was necessary in the first place.
When we talk to a lot of aspiring businessmen, one of the common threads that unite most is the excitement they have about their business idea. They have a vision of their final product but zero data to prove the need for its existence.
When the tipping point was reached, we thought it was best to shed light on one of the most important aspects of running a business – product discovery.
This is crucial especially at a time when the market is cluttered with too many ideas and replicas of existing ones.
So, what is it?
Let’s find out.
What is Digital Product Discovery?
Let’s try to keep it simple.
Product discovery is one of the initial stages of starting a business that defines the purpose of its existence.
Got too complicated?
Okay, product discovery is that process that identifies if there’s a demand/requirement/need for your product in the first place. If yes, the other processes of starting a business are followed.
If not, pivoting or brainstorming for other ideas happens.
Refining the process further, product discovery involves the understanding of your target audience and their concerns. The more specific the identified problems, the sharper your product outcome.
Read More: Product Discovery Process: 3 Question Categories to Follow
This is the critical stage where this is both the beginning and the end. Sounds like a paradox, isn’t it?
Imagine, if you don’t know what your target audience wants and you blindly assume they have a problem and your idea is a game-changer in the market, you’re indeed building castles in the air.
And such castles can’t be rented out on AirBnB. Meaning, you can’t make money.
For instance, let’s assume you have an idea to start an on-demand delivery service. Firstly, it’s a brilliant idea and secondly, it’s a hot market right now.
But most business owners go wrong here. They overlook the stage between assessing market value and designing a product called product discovery.
Read More: 5 Books Every Digital Product Designers Must Read
Now before you go about developing your on-demand delivery service app, a couple of questions you need to ask would include –
- Is there a need for such an app currently?
- Why would people want to use your app when there are other established alternatives?
- What unsolved problem is my idea going to solve?
- What difference is my app going to make in the market?
- The list could go on for a few more crucial questions.
The idea is you need to have proper data-driven answers to these. Insights from these would help you decide if the business is in demand in the first place.
Why is Product Discovery Important?
Product discovery is inevitable because you don’t want to build a product that nobody needs. Your business can make way for perennial profits only when you develop a product or service that is essential or fundamental.
You can’t expect this from a product that is merely good-to-have. For instance, an AI-powered talking assistant is a good-to-have product but not fundamental. Households can do without that.
To identify such insights, product discovery comes into the picture. Besides, product discovery is also important to keep assumptions about your market and its demands at bay.
3 Essential Steps to Product Discovery
Though product discovery is a time-consuming process, these three steps can help you find out an effective way to execute the inevitable process.
1. Don’t Dwell on Your Assumptions
If you dwell on your assumptions, you would most likely have to dwell on your pasts – one with regrets.
So, the first step in product discovery is to list out all your assumptions and challenge them. On this quest, you come up with surveys and analysis of your market with your team. You look for data touchpoints to gather as many insights as possible about your market niche and compare them with the assumptions you had.
The inferences will blow your mind and show you the way forward.
2. Focus on Problem
As a product manager or a business owner, we tend to get a tunnel vision of processes and how things should pan out.
So, even when we’re challenging our assumptions, we tend to lose our focus on problems and dwell on the solutions our business would offer.
This again skews the entire purpose because psychologically, your mind theorizes and connects dots on how your business is the ideal solution to a problem when the problem by itself is trivial.
Start focusing on the problems your audience faces and try not to bring in your solution as of yet. Look for ways if the problem could be solved without the intervention of your business. If yes, there’s no need for your venture. The more you isolate problems, the more clarity you would have.
3. Take Litmus Test With MVP
If you intend to have solid feedback and validation for your idea, we recommend you build an MVP. It’s the most basic version of your product that you could roll out in the market and test the waters.
Once you build it, you launch it in the market or among your primary and secondary circle of contacts for honest criticisms and feedback. With a good volume of the sample set and feedback, you would know if the MVP could be turned into an extensive product.
We’re sure this post was eye-opening in many ways.
If you’re still in the ideation stage, we recommend revisiting your idea for more clarity. If you have clarity on your idea and would want validation, the best thing you could do is get in touch with us.
We could roll out an MVP for your idea or develop a prototype that could save you from a lot of consequences and pave the way for a smooth venture.