Product Discovery

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Product discovery definition

Product discovery is a process typically undertaken by product teams, UI/UX researchers, UX designers, UI designers and company stakeholders. The process is performed to define a problem, explore potential solutions and build a working prototype that will present value to customers. Modern product discovery and validation is essential to startup success, for example, those utilizing the outcome-driven innovation framework see an average product success rate of 86 percent.

What is discovery in product design?

  • In order for a startup or an enterprise to achieve success, new products must be brought to the market that fill a consumer need. Uncovering what that need is and determining the most efficient way to provide a solution is what is known as product discovery.

Product discovery is typically undertaken by diverse teams of stakeholders from throughout an organization, such as product teams, UI/UX researchers, data analysts, product designers, executives and others who are closely aligned with customer needs and insights. This helps create a link between the customers and the business before any work is done, ensuring that the intended product will be useful and not fail due to a lack of adoption and users.

The roots of modern intentional product discovery and validation can be traced back to the 1990s, when Steve Blank created the customer development philosophy and published the book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win. Eventually, Blank’s methodology facilitated the start of the lean startup movement where customer development is considered a main pillar. Simultaneously, Anthony Ulwick developed CD-MAP, which would eventually set the course for the creation of outcome-driven innovation and the jobs-to-be-done theory.

What are the key elements of product discovery?

  • A few key elements of product discovery include the journey map, empathy map and consumer persona.

When conducting product discovery, it is first important to ensure that empirical user research is done so qualitative and quantitative data can be gathered. This allows discovery teams to challenge their own assumptions about what a user needs and gather data on potential product use cases and customer pain points. From there, teams can form design artifacts that allow the data to stay top of mind and be easily referred back to throughout the discovery and development process. These artifacts often include journey maps, empathy maps and consumer personas.

Journey maps are a set of actions that the user is expected to take to achieve their goal. The actions taken are marked as “locations,” and the product is expected to reduce the amount of actions needed to accomplish the goal. Journey maps must be based on empirical user research to accurately determine what the product will accomplish. Empathy maps are a four-quadrant diagram that are used to record what customers think, hear, say and see in regards to their challenges and the product’s opportunities to present a solution. This helps companies understand user feelings on products and services. Consumer personas are an approximated segment of users that come to be known as target customers. Personas are named and matched with demographics, psychographics and behaviors that help identify a potential customer.

What are product discovery techniques?

  • Techniques for product discovery include identifying risks, understanding underlying user needs and identifying the optimal solution.

Product discovery is all about identifying solutions to customer challenges. By doing so, companies seek to build products that provide continuous value to both the user and the business. This requires risks to be clearly identified before teams can begin building a prototype. These risks include: value risk, or whether customers will adopt the product; usability risk, or whether users will know how to utilize the product; feasibility risk, or whether it is capable to produce a product with the allotted time and resources; and business viability risk, or whether the solution will also work for other aspects of a business.

Once these risks are identified, stakeholders have a better understanding of user needs and can create an optimal solution through ideation, prototyping and testing processes.


Expand Your Product Discovery Career Opportunities

Learn product discovery techniques and other product management skills through top-rated courses from Udemy.



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Product Discovery Certifications + Programs

Prove your product skills by earning one of Udacity’s in-demand product management certifications.

General Assembly’s Product Management course teaches the end-to-end product management (PM) process to a real-world scenario, from evaluating users and managing a roadmap to creating a minimum viable product (MVP) and developing metrics.


What you'll accomplish

This is a beginner-friendly program with no prerequisites, although students may have had exposure to product development concepts or be informally taking on PM responsibilities in their current role. Throughout this expert-designed program, you’ll:

  • Determine key risks and assumptions of a product in order to prioritize research and discovery work.
  • Validate hypotheses by gathering user feedback via MVPs, interviews, experiments, and testing.
  • Execute competitive research to highlight market gaps and trends.
  • Speak fluently with developers, user experience designers, and other business stakeholders about priorities, requirements, and workflow.
  • Apply metrics alongside objectives and key results (OKRs) to measure a product’s success and track its life cycle.
  • Apply what you’ve learned to create a portfolio project: a presentation detailing your product creation strategy.


Why General Assembly

Since 2011, General Assembly has graduated more than 40,000 students worldwide from the full time & part time courses. During the 2020 hiring shutdown, GA's students, instructors, and career coaches never lost focus, and the KPMG-validated numbers in their Outcomes report reflect it. *For students who graduated in 2020 — the peak of the pandemic — 74.4% of those who participated in GA's full-time Career Services program landed jobs within six months of graduation. General Assembly is proud of their grads + teams' relentless dedication and to see those numbers rising. Download the report here.


Your next step? Submit an application to talk to the General Assembly Admissions team


Note: reviews are referenced from Career Karma -


4 months
10 hours

Product Managers are responsible for designing and delivering a profitable product or feature into the market. In this program, you will learn to define product strategy and KPIs based on market analysis, pitch a product vision to get stakeholder buy-in, and design a user-centered prototype that adheres to engineering constraints. Then, you will develop an execution timeline that handles competing priorities, communicate a product roadmap that builds consensus amongst internal stakeholders, and create a comprehensive go-to-market plan based on product KPIs. Finally, you will build tests to enhance product features based on market data.

4 months
10 hours

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