Discovery research seeks to discover new knowledge and insights into the market to help develop a product or a process. It involves investigating deeper to gain a better understanding of a product or service’s target. 

Discovery research is very helpful to various internal teams (product, marketing, HR, operations) of a company. It provides a better understanding of users’ needs and problems and creates a path to finding relevant solutions for them.

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Why is Discovery Research Vital to Businesses? 

Some business owners might be tempted to neglect this phase, mistakenly considering it time-consuming and trivial to use the money. However, they fail to understand that this might be a huge misstep. Why? Well, mainly because: 

  1. Discovery research helps companies better understand their customers and roll out products that solve customers’ problems. 
  2. It attempts to improve the progress and connects clients’ business goals with their users’ needs.
  3. Discovery research includes any matter that is relevant to the issues involved in the appeal, including the existence, description, nature, custody, and condition of the tangible things.
  4. It targets the market with knowledge of relevant facts and tries to extract the information for the research that can lead to further discoveries which could help the company.

Importance of Discovery Research

Discover research, also known as the discovery phase, helps to clarify the project vision and minimize development risks. It empowers the team to implement the project just as it was intended. 

The discovery phase involves scrutinizing the target audience, creating a product that meets the market’s needs, and determining your organisation’s goals.

  • Firstly, you need to get a sense of the issues by starting to explore and potentially testing in the subsequent phase. 
  • Then, you will start by reading lots of information. Familiarise yourself with what has already been published on the topic and what potentially you may not know,  to better understand what are the knowns and the unknowns and what you’ll want to focus on.
  • Keep the motto “Build the right thing’’ and not focus on ‘’building the thing right’’ in mind. 

How to begin with Discovery Research? 

Discovery is the first phase in delivering a digital service, and it could be a scoping method. Here, you create a shared understanding of what the service is, who it is for, why it is essential, and what a good service looks like. #

An accurate identification of goals and project scope could result in an efficient estimate. Keep the following reminders in mind: 

  • While in this phase, construct value-adding decisions based on data, not assumptions.
  • Strive to incur better returns on investment and create a user-friendly experience. 
  • If possible, deduct expensive changes during advanced phases of the development process. 
  • Recruit in-house specialists early to maximize the impact of their familiarity with the problem that needs to be solved.

The Process of Discovery Research 

It’ll roughly take 3 to 4 weeks to complete the whole process. After your initial research, you want to get the right people in the room for a series of workshops. By the time you’ve finished discovering, you want to understand 3 things in particular: 

a) who the users of a service are, b) what are the most important things they need, and c) how potentially you could develop a new service.

After researching, you will have a clear idea of what the scope of the service is going to be. Furthermore, you will have gained a shared understanding and buy-in from all the senior stakeholders into what you wish to prove and achieve.

Be prepared to challenge any assumption. So start asking why, and then always ask why one more time.

Methods of Discovery Research

Some methods to follow during the process could be:

1.Hold interviews with your stakeholders: You can apply this method when you want to achieve the following: 

To set up your organization goals: What problems is the business trying to solve?

What are the Constraints? What factors could stand in the way (whether technical or otherwise)?

To find out the current insights: What do your subject-matter experts already know about the problem you’re trying to solve, and what do they know about your users?

2. Hold interviews with your users: You can employ this method to gather qualitative information directly from your users. 

  • This involves: asking people questions related to how they use a particular system, their behaviours, and their usage habits.
  • This research method is useful in the lifecycle of a product. 
  • The results of user interviews can help build your customer journey through your line of products. 

3. Diary studies – In this method, the users log activities of daily activities to generate contextual information about their behaviours, wants and needs. You can then use this data to better understand feature and product requirements.

4. Focus groups – Using this method is a hit-and-miss approach. You need to be sure it suits your objectives. You can use this method when the primary goals of the research are some of the following: 

  • To either explore feelings, perceptions, and motivations and understand why consumers react to a product or advertising message in a certain way
  • If you are looking to provide initial guidance to the creative process (e.g., advertising, packaging, product development.
  • To gain a deeper insight into the issues measured using quantitative research before. 

Steps to Follow During Discovery Research

The project discovery phase includes the following steps:

1. Identifying the stakeholders

2. Analysing business goals

3. Defining how to measure success

4. Projecting awareness

5. Checking existing research and documentation

6. Building a user journey and identifying the target audience

7. Researching competitors


Discovery research is essential as it helps to tackle the unknown and become a stepping stone into the learning curve. It takes place before kicking off the project development. It is focused on identifying your target audience, their issues, and their needs. 

In the discovery research phase, you’ll test your idea against the reality of solving concerns and meeting the users’ expectations. In addition to conducting user research, setting goals, and defining success, the goal is to define the project scope.

About the author

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