Every great product starts with a brilliant idea. But it takes more than just a great idea for products to succeed. It is crucial to understand the humans who use it - their needs, preferences, behavior etc. Brands that deeply understand their users are rewarded with a top reputation, customer loyalty, as well as brand ambassadors. The challenge, however, is that user behaviors and needs change unpredictably.
To understand and meet these changing expectations, most product companies, especially user-centered ones have started implementing continuous discovery into their product development process. If you haven't - here are four reasons you should implement continuous product discovery and use it to inform your product decisions.
Before we jump into why continuous discovery is vital to building great products, let's briefly discuss what continuous product discovery is and why it matters to ensure we are on the same page.
What Is Continuous Product Discovery?
Continuous product discovery is an iterative process of discovering, testing, and refining new product ideas. It involves doing ongoing market research and gaining user feedback by conducting small research activities through regular touchpoints with customers.
The teams building the product do customer interviews, run usability tests, and conduct A/B tests parallelly alongside development to know and understand the customers and gather regular feedback from them.
It's about understanding user and customer issues and identifying opportunities so you can develop and deliver products that meet your customers’ expectations and are highly valued by the customers.
Why Continuous Discovery Matters in Product Development?
We all know that most new products fail, but do you know why so many products brought to market fail? Well, the number one reason for failure is - No Market Need.
With continuous product discovery:
- You can deliver new products with confidence that they'll be well-received by customers.
- You can build deep empathy with your users and feel confident your products meet their evolving needs.
- You can keep the product teams aligned with the entire organization around their product vision and strategy.
In short, with continuous discovery, you can have a constant finger on the pulse of the customers and build products and features that add the most value to your customers and make better roadmap decisions.
Though most product teams do product discovery, the problem is they don't do it often enough. Because continuous discovery is not a one-time thing. Even if you've already launched a product and have customers, you still need to continue gathering continuous user feedback to keep your knowledge of the market and customer needs up to date and properly prioritize new problems or use cases, etc.
Product discovery is an ongoing process; you should do it continuously to inform your product decisions. But most product teams use it only to validate the decisions they've already made, which is why so many new products fail.
4 Reasons Why Continuous Discovery Is Vital to Build Great Products
By investing into the discovery process and regularly gathering user feedback, product teams can build more impactful products and make better roadmap decisions. Here're four reasons why continuous product discovery is the best way to build successful products.
1. Continuous Discovery Helps You Avoid Biases and Build Better Products
We humans believe ourselves to be rational beings. However, we are all creatures of our environment, prone to assumptions and biases. These biases influence our choices and often force us to make poor and unreasonable decisions.
Product teams need to be conscious of these biases and actively seek alternative perspectives in order to create user-centric products.
To create and launch products that your users want, you need to see through their eyes. A key step for launching successful products is identifying and counteracting these biases. Two of the most common cognitive biases impacting product people are Confirmation bias and Experience bias. Let's discuss each with an example.
Imagine you have an idea for a new product. You then begin to only focus on information that supports that new product idea and ignore data or input that challenges your view. You are then experiencing Confirmation Bias - a cognitive bias that favors any information that confirms your previously existing beliefs.
Have you ever created a product that you think is perfect but does not work for your users? Well, as a product person, you are the expert on your product, but it's different with customers. They are not experts and don't know the ins and outs of your product. This leads to the curse of knowledge, often resulting in Experience Bias.
That being said, experience bias is unavoidable; one way to keep this curse of knowledge in check is to engage with users regularly and get feedback earlier in the process, where it's less expensive to make changes, and continuous product discovery helps with that.
2. Continuous Discovery Helps You Avoid Assumptions
Most new products are built on assumptions, and most often these assumptions are flawed. To increase the certainty of your success before you ship a new product or feature, you need to identify all the assumptions, prioritize them, and validate them by generating your own data. Conversations with your users are key to gaining insights into their minds.
Continually testing and validating assumptions with real users and data helps teams avoid making assumptions based on incomplete or inaccurate information and helps you understand how it will impact your users.
Google Glass is an excellent example of how a new product from an already accomplished brand can fail without proper validation from real users. Though there was a lot of hype around this product and many people were talking about it before the launch, it surprisingly flopped.
One of the main reasons why this product failed was because it was built on inaccurate assumptions and didn't meet real user needs and solve their problems.
Through continuous product discovery, product teams can better understand their users, their needs, and their pain points. By regularly gathering feedback and data, they can adjust their assumptions and hypotheses as they learn more, ensuring that the products they build meet user needs and solve real problems.
3. Continuous Discovery Helps You Stay Ahead of the Competition
Launching a successful new product or feature can be challenging. The two things every brand should do beforehand to succeed are:
- Test the product regularly and collect feedback; this will help you deliver the kind of experience your users would love.
- Create a 'competitive monitoring strategy' so you are aware of what your competitors are working on and can know the product developments of your competitors.
Continuous discovery allows you to stay ahead of the competition by continuously monitoring and understanding your customers and market and identifying new opportunities.
4. Continuous Discovery Helps You Adapt to Change Quickly
The market and user needs are constantly changing, and continuous discovery allows you to have a regular touch base with your users to get regular feedback from them. So, you can quickly adapt to these changes, make the necessary improvements to your product and meet your users' evolving needs. And help you create and launch new products confidently.
Actively listening to your users and adapting quickly will allow your business to create successful products and features and help you gain a positive reputation for meeting its users' best interests. This will help your business build stronger relationships, eventually leading to better engagement with your brand.
Remember, adapting to change and pivoting is crucial for every business and product success. PayPal is one example that comes to mind when it comes to pivoting. The payment giant was born out of a pivot. Launched by Peter Thiel and Luke Nosek in December 1998 as Confinity to provide security software for handheld devices. With little success in this business model, the group pivoted to a digital wallet and launched an early version of the PayPal electronic payments system in 1999, and PayPal was born.
Getting a new product or feature ready and out of the door is daunting. With continuous product discovery, you can deliver new features and products with confidence they'll be well-received by your users and achieve excellence.
Remember, good product leaders do not rely on chance; they conduct continuous product discovery, and you should conduct it too.
Start Using Affect UX Today
Implementing continuous discovery is crucial to make better product decisions. Start your continuous product discovery process by signing up for our integrated user research platform, Affect UX, and begin making better product decisions.