What You Need to Know About the App Discovery Process
The Lithios Discovery Process
Are you ready to design and develop your mobile or web application? Stop right there! Regardless of whether you are building a product for a startup or enterprise, the Discovery phase of your project is arguably the most important part of the early-stage software development process. What is “Discovery” and why does it matter, you ask? Let’s dive into it.
What is “Discovery”?
The Discovery phase is the first of three phases in our software development cycle that requires completion before moving into the design and development phases. Depending on each client’s unique needs, the Discovery phase includes up to three workshops where we examine and refine everything from user types and feature priorities to business goals and technology stack. These workshops are where we uncover as many specific project needs as possible to ensure we are setting our clients up for a successful transition to design, development, and ultimately, product launch.
Getting Into the Granular Details
As the business representative or owner, you probably have a clear idea of the project needs, but in order to deliver the best product possible, the software company you’re working with will need to uncover the granular details about how your mobile or web app should work. The Discovery phase provides collaborative opportunities to discuss and explore these project needs in-depth and, based on the findings, to draw up a product roadmap and map out the UX Flows which will provide direction for the next phases of the project.
Thinking Through the Product Roadmap
The way a software development company will navigate the design and development of an app will change depending on the app’s required features and functionality, as well as the client’s timeline and budget. If you have lofty goals for your product but you’re still waiting on funding from investors, for example, the Lithios team would likely recommend beginning with a minimum viable product, or “MVP”. You can add features to an MVP later on, but knowing which features should be added in a future version will ensure we’re starting with the framework that can support the additional functionality when it’s time to build V2 (aka, the second version of your app).
During a Discovery Workshop, the Lithios team will work together with you to define which features to prioritize for the first version of your application versus which ones should be saved for future iterations, how this will impact the app’s infrastructure and thus, affect the timeline and cost of the project.
UX Flows, AKA App “Blueprints”
User Experience, or “UX”, Design experts draft UX Flows for an application for the same reason that an architect outlines blueprints for a new building — they illustrate the precise plan of what is to be designed and built. Spending adequate time to get the UX Flows exactly right will save a significant amount of time and money in the more costly design and development stages. For this reason, UX Flows are arguably the most important deliverable in this early stage of the software life cycle.
If you have already prioritized a list of features and have even created UX Flows of your own, including things like the commonly missed “forgot password” function, that’s a fantastic start (and we encourage you to work on this prior to a Discovery Workshop), but there are similar, often overlooked details that are imperative in mapping out UX Flows, which is why it’s key to think through the details of UX flows with the help of a UX Design expert during a Discovery Workshop.
Here are a few examples of questions we might discuss in-depth during the Discovery phase to help us uncover the most logical implementation of each feature:
- What purpose does the completed project serve? An office building is very different from a shed, similar to how a ride sharing app is different from a to-do list.
- What are the most important features to develop for the first version? We want to make sure we are saving you time and money by only including the most important features now. We can consider adding additional features later.
- Do you plan on including additions in the future? We want to ensure we create a framework that can support those later additions.
- How does the user interact with the application? Can anyone sign up, or is it invite-only? How are those invitations sent? Via email? A numeric code? Who would send those invitations? An admin? Accepted users? Are there multiple admins? Should they have different levels of permissions?
- How many people will the app need to accommodate? Is the final product going to be used by only one or two people? Or will it need to support hundreds, or potentially hundreds of thousands of people?
How Do I Prepare for a Discovery Workshop?
The only thing you really need for a Discovery Workshop is an idea and the drive to get started, but here are a few ways we suggest to prepare:
- Conduct market research and validate your idea. Does your app solve a true problem?
- Write a summary. Describe what the application will do in just a few sentences.
- Complete a competitive analysis. Are there other companies that are offering a similar solution? If so, what is your competitive edge?
- Create an MVP feature list. What are the primary features and functionality you want your app to have?
- Consider how your users navigate through the app. What happens after your users log in? What happens after that?
What It Boils Down to:
While we’re the experts in the field of software technology, YOU are the expert in your field. For us to collaborate effectively throughout the duration of the engagement, we have to discover the granular details of your project prior to diving head first into the deep (and more expensive) end of design and development. Take our word for it — the several weeks required for the Discovery Workshop will save you a TON of time and money in the long run, and will ensure you’re ending up with the best software product possible.
Kassidy Jezierski leads business development at Lithios. She works to clearly communicate the capabilities and optimal engagement opportunities between Lithios and its clients. In her free time, she enjoys fingerpainting pictures of lambs and docile sheep.