Executing a well-planned discovery phase – by Charlie Crook

This week, Eliga Services’ Product Designer, Charlie Crook makes a compelling case for a well-planned discovery phase.

How many times have you heard the story of a team with a great idea and financial backing? Designers and developers come together to create an awesome looking product. Everyone thinks they are going to hit the market by storm. They launch the product and guess what? Nothing…

None of their so-called potential users buys or downloads the product. The idea completely flops.


The answer to this predicament? User research!

‘With time constraints and lack of stakeholder ‘buy-in’, the discovery phase can be overlooked or run the risk of becoming perfunctory.’

Following on from my previous article about our methodology at Eliga Services, outlining how a user-centric approach saves time and money, I wanted to dive into more detail about the importance of a discovery phase.

At Eliga, we truly value user insight. These observations inform the products we build, ensuring a well-thought-out and strategised discovery phase.

A discovery phase is an opportunity for your digital team to better understand the project. By doing so, teams can recognise the underlying drivers, not just the solutions proposed by the client.

User research is the key driver within a discovery phase, allowing UX teams, designers and developers to empathise with potential or current users of a new or existing product. In my experience, I’ve found it is common for companies to avoid conducting user research as they believe ‘their experience’ or their personal pain points speak for themselves.


The 300 million ‘Continue’ button

An example of the benefit of user research or reaching out to empathise with users is the famous 2009 story of Amazon and its checkout journey. Long story short, the e-Commerce giant found a problem at their checkout stage. After checking out their cart, users were asked to log in or register an account.

Amazon conducted user research and the insight was baffling. It turned out that users (both first-timers and returning users) were reluctant to log in or register to complete their purchases. The result of this was $300 million worth of cart abandonment. Later, the designers fixed the problem simply by taking away the ‘Register’ button and replacing it with a ‘Continue’ button.

The outcome? The number of customer purchases increased by 45% and the extra sales resulted in an additional $300 million during the first year!


How does Eliga tackle the discovery process?

The above example reinforces our belief in conducting a well-strategised discovery phase. The user is at the heart of our thought process. What better way to empathise with them than by using our user research methods?

Before we can begin user research, we must align with our client. The client may be at different parts of product development. It’s up to us to figure out where to start. For example, some research methods wouldn’t be optimal if the client already has a product.

In Eliga’s discovery phase, there are two main objectives:

  • Client/product workshops
  • User research



Due to the collaborative nature of UX, workshops can save time, optimise communication, and generate great results as a team. Workshops are a brilliant way to kick off any new project. Whether it is for a client or internal work, workshops allow the team to come together to understand a new problem.

At Eliga, when onboarding new clients, we meet with stakeholders to understand what they have already learnt about their current product or the new product they want to build, determining how it aligns with the company vision.

A Brand Vision, Mission, and Values workshop is the best way to reveal the company’s vision, asking the brand’s key stakeholders to explain the strategy or goal of the product. For every answer they provide, we ask them to explain the ‘why’. After a few rounds of back-and-forths, we get to the heart of the matter.

Once we are aligned with them as a client/partner, we want to figure out the ‘who’. A persona workshop is perfect for this. We create personas based on the target customers. This allows us to align our product with the potential end-users. After identifying the ideal users, we would figure out how the potential product brings benefit with a value proposition workshop. It’s worth noting that the assumptions we come up with in this kind of workshop will then be tested further along in the design process.

Another key workshop that we would always want to conduct at Eliga is a customer journey workshop. Customer journey mapping is a way to deconstruct a user’s experience with a product or service as a series of steps and themes. If conducted correctly, this process allows stakeholders to think about user needs effectively, identifying pain points and opportunities in a systematic and straightforward way.


User research

After understanding the project from a client’s perspective and the necessary workshops have been successful, it is now time to gain some tangible insight from the users themselves. Some cost-effective methods we use at Eliga are online surveys and data analysis. Due to their ease of use, these methods allow for outreach to lots of people. They are particularly useful for gathering feedback quickly for an idea. Due to the lack of an interviewer’s presence, the answers are usually unbiased.

Initial usability testing is a great way of seeing how a user may use your product. By using moderated or unmoderated usability sessions, you will gather different results for a comprehensive view. For redesign projects, this process can be as simple as watching someone interact with the current version of the product. If you’re building something from scratch, you can test how your audience uses a competing product.

Another staple in our user research strategy is interviewing our potential or current users. Structured and semi-structured interviews require recruiting 10-15 potential users. This format is usually similar to the questionnaire, but interviews allow for more open-ended answers where pain points or product possibilities aren’t clear at first.

Finally, focus groups draw upon respondents’ attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences and reactions, which would not be feasible using other methods, such as observation, one-to-one interviewing, or questionnaire surveys. By having a group of people share their ideas, a client will uncover new or unexpected insights from the user’s perspective.



Don’t underestimate the discovery phase! These techniques will save your business valuable time and money. Always refer to your research when proceeding with development. If needed, conduct further discovery research if you want to introduce new features.


Want to learn more about Eliga’s product development services?

Visit our experience design page to understand how we can help your business.

Finally, follow Eliga on LinkedIn to keep up to date with our company news.