Product Discovery 101 for Product Manager

5 min

A translation of the article was prepared ahead of the launch of a new group on the courseProduct Manager IT-projects “.

So what is Product Discovery?

Product Discovery is the process of figuring out what will ultimately be created. It reflects your vision, gives a clearer picture of the needs of users and key answers to questions that arise during the construction of the roadmap.

  1. Should I solve this problem?
  2. Will our solution work?
  3. Will people pay for it?

If the answer to at least one of these questions is negative, then you will have to return to the whiteboard with a marker. Product Discover y is the process of working on your idea, interviewing your customers until you get clear, positive answers to all three questions.

“When” matters!

Now you know what Product Discovery is, and before we dive into the best practices, to figure out how to do it right, you need to talk about when to conduct Product Discovery.
If you come to this stage with an already half-finished MVP, but have not yet touched on research, stop developing!

Before you spend precious time and resources on creating something, get involved in Product Discovery, and it will be the key to creating a product that will find its market place. What is the point of developing what no one needs?

Even if you are absolutely sure that your product meets a specific need of the user, Product Discovery will help you design it correctly before you start creating MVP. Product Discovery helps you make the best and most informed decisions. Your product may indeed be a great idea, but it’s Product Discovery that helps you make sure that people are willing to pay for it.

Steps to Successful Product Discovery

1. Give an answer to the question “Why?”

Understand the purpose of the product. Not only the vision of the product itself, but also how it fits into the goals of the company. Make sure that all participants agree from the very beginning, because later on you will use this “why” as a motivation.

You can approach this issue as creatively as you want, but something simple and capacious as a statement of your mission may be quite enough.

2. Think about metrics

Understanding how you are going to measure the success of your product will give you a specific goal that you need to strive for, so as not to chase the weakly tangible “why.”

How many paid users do you need to ensure sustainable growth? Set a timeline in order to understand when and what you want to come to, and decide what control points should reflect on this timeline.

Methods such as goals and key results (OKR) and key performance indicators (KPI)are great for setting goals and marking the stages of growth of your product.

3. Designate the boundaries

There are many unlimited things in the career of a Product Manager. Potential, innovation, opportunity …

However, resources, time and money are not unlimited.
Sit down and talk with people from various fields (designers, programmers, marketers, etc.) about restrictions. It’s useful for everyone to know what they have to work with, whether it’s determining the launch date of a product or the allocation of resources.

4. Decide on the risks

Nobody wants a crisis, but if it happens, then the best thing you can do is prepare for it.
Think with your team about what might go wrong and how you can handle this situation. There are things that are beyond your control, for example, launching a competing product before yours or even a natural disaster!

Divide your anxieties into two categories: what you control and what you do not control.
For those things that you cannot control, write a short contingency plan. Think of preventative measures for things that you control.

It may be pessimistic as the beginning of the path of your product, but you will be glad to take the steps if the crisis really comes!

5. Meet your users

Perhaps this is the most important stage of Product Discovery. For you, as a Product Manager, customers mean everything. Fasten your seatbelt because it will not be easy …

  • Conducting user research to obtain qualitative and quantitative results

To get a complete picture of the needs of your users, you will need qualitative and quantitative data.
You can get high-quality or “soft” data through surveys, interviews, focus groups and reading user reviews. This data is one of the most useful for creating your vision of the product and User Journey map.

Having received quantitative data, you will need to challenge your assumptions. This will be hard data. What percentage of users work on a tablet compared to a desktop computer? How many of your users earn $ 50-60 thousand per year? Use these hard, objective numbers to support your quantitative assumptions.

  • Make your cards

Once you understand your customers, you will need to make sure that everyone involved in the development also understands them. There are two really useful tools to help convey your understanding of customer needs to other team members: User Journey Map and User persona.

User Journey Map reflects various points of user interaction with your brand / product. Using quantitative and qualitative data, it creates a picture of the general relationship that you want to have with your ideal user, from opening to acceptance, those relationships that will make the user your first fan.

Your User Persona will help you specify for whom you are creating the product, these characteristics are incredibly useful, they should be used as a reference. Divide your users into groups and consider how to interact with each of these groups. It’s useful to engage marketers at this stage, because they have skills that may be useful here, and the need to use these groups in future work.

  • Interview users

Online surveys are one of the best ways to do research because they can be done remotely and require less resources than face-to-face interviews.
The best way to get useful feedback is to ask people to answer open-ended questions, letting them provide you with detailed information. This does not mean that you have to wait for long complex paragraphs. Let your questions sound easy. Instead of asking, “Do you like our homepage?”, Ask: “What do you like about our homepage?”

To make users interested, be creative. Use multiple-choice questions or sliding scales to add variety.

Best Tools for Product Discovery

There are many tools, so you can easily find anything you want. But here we need an individual approach! So, we will tell you what we have chosen for ourselves:

  • Organize your work with Productboard: The functionality includes a repository of user insights, prioritization, user impact assessment, a portal for voting for functions and much, much more. This is an all-in-one tool that appeals to people working with products around the world.
  • Think through your strategy and roadmap with Productplan: Great products start with great roadmaps. ProductPlan integrates with Jira, Slack, Trello and other useful platforms to make your communication and updating the roadmap as smooth as possible.
  • Chat with your users with UserTesting: The best tool for collecting user information and real communication with your customers. You can access the user panel for every taste and color, or focus on your own audience. You can trust UserTesting, as the world’s largest brands trust.
  • Create wireframe with Balsamiq: It was created accessible not only to technical specialists, but also to Product managers of all industries. If you can sketch the user interface on a napkin, then you simply have to try Balsamiq, because it is very simple! Professional designers also use it because Balsamiq is fast and contains hundreds of built-in controls and icons.
  • Prototype in Invision: Invision uses brands like Airbnb, Amazon, HBO, Netflix and IBM, so you can be sure that your prototype is in good hands!

Want to learn more about research and other amazing product development steps? Then we have one for you book! We are with our friends from Userguiding We’ve developed the perfect guide to help you move from an idea to launching a product. (When you start the user onboarding process, it’s hard to find a platform better than UserGuiding.)

We invite everyone to free lesson in which, with examples from real products, you will learn:
– why the success of a product manager is the growth of the main product metric;
– How to determine the growth metric;
– How to build analytics and product around growth metrics;
– Learn how to calculate unit economics, as product managers do;
– Learn what a product manager can do to improve the unit economy.


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