Product discovery, and the need for continuous

Daniela Fratino
February 26, 2024

As product professionals, our ultimate goal is to create human-centred products that not only engage customers but are also functional and user-friendly. The path to achieving this varies across organisations and their methodologies, particularly in the realms of product discovery and delivery. This article delves into the conventional methods of product development, their limitations, and how embracing continuous discovery can elevate the product development process, ensuring it remains centred around the user.

Traditional approach to product development

Traditionally, product development is split into two phases: discovery and delivery. During discovery, designers and researchers determine what to build based on various research methods. Following this, the focus shifts to delivery, which includes designing, developing, and shipping the product while ensuring quality. 

Typically, your organisation's discovery approach may begin with an internal intuition, aimed at aligning with company goals, matching competitor technology, or stemming from a stakeholder's vision. This often results in either immediate project-based research or a direct dive into product development and design, culminating in a launch. However, post-launch, the emphasis tends to shift towards maintenance rather than continuous user engagement.

Reflecting on this traditional approach to product discovery, it’s crucial to acknowledge that user needs are not consistently prioritised throughout the process. Although it includes input from key stakeholders, it frequently overlooks maintaining a continuous connection with the most crucial element - the customer. Several key factors tend to be overlooked in this project-based approach to product delivery:

Changes to customer needs

Considering your customers, remember they are human, and their opinions and needs evolve over time influenced by factors like age, occupation, location, and education. In our tech-driven society, new products and functionalities frequently emerge, potentially aligning with your customers' changing preferences. Staying alert and responsive to these shifts is critical to maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Understanding new customers 

As your product evolves and time progresses, new customers will enter your market, bringing fresh engagement opportunities. To secure their loyalty, it's vital to discern their specific needs and preferences. If your team fails to connect with these new customers it could lead to disengagement.

Competing with new technology

The market is always introducing new products and functionalities. Falling behind in innovation or failing to adapt continuously can result in customer disengagement. It's crucial to engage with customers consistently throughout the product lifecycle, ensuring you stay competitive amidst rapidly emerging technologies.

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The need for continuous product discovery

How can you enhance your product to ensure it remains user-centred? The answer lies in continuous discovery. This approach, detailed in this article on continuous discovery, adopts an agile, iterative process that evaluates your product throughout its lifecycle with a strong focus on customer engagement.

Unlike traditional discovery methods, continuous product discovery is an ongoing journey. It involves consistent research and customer interaction, usually on a weekly basis, to align with your product's strategic goals to reveal new opportunities. With this approach, the project is perpetual; your product is continually honed through regular customer interactions.

By consistently engaging with customers rather than just launching and maintaining a product, you ensure that your design and development processes are inherently centered around the user. This ongoing interaction fosters a cycle of continuous improvement, keeping your product relevant and maximising user satisfaction as needs evolve.

Implementation of continuous discovery

Imagine a scenario familiar to many organisations: the CEO conceives a new digital tool designed to enhance customer experience and drive sales. Traditionally, this project may follow a linear path from concept to launch with minimal engagement with the user of the product. However, the evolving landscape necessitates a more dynamic approach, which is where continuous discovery plays a crucial role. 

This approach transforms the linear project into an ongoing cycle of user engagement. By establishing a system where your product team continuously interacts with users, ensuring the product evolves in alignment with their changing needs. This method allows the team to validate assumptions, gather feedback on user preferences and behaviors, and identify emerging trends. 

For a deeper understanding of continuous discovery, refer to our article on the basics, or reach out to one of our research consultants for practical strategies on implementing this into your organisation. 

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Daniela Fratino

Askable Plus Researcher

A service and UX designer driven by a passion for human-centred design, shaping digital experiences with empathy and innovation.

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