Mobile Development

What is the Discovery Phase of App Development?

The road to a successful app development is long and wearisome. It can take anywhere from 4 months to a year. Every step you take will influence the end-result of your product — so be careful which path you take.

Meghan W. - Social Media Manager

May 8, 2019

The road to a successful app development is long and wearisome. It can take anywhere from 4 months to a year. Every step you take will influence the end-result of your product — so be careful which path you take. This initial stage is called App Discovery. It is the most important part of your app development process.

Think of the discovery stage as the preparation and runway before taking off with a plane. If you don’t make the right decisions and assumptions at this stage, you may lock yourself into a lot of decisions that may affect your destination. Alright, alright, that’s enough scaring for today. You will be just fine. And you know why? Because we are here to help! So what exactly is the discovery phase in app development and how can you benefit from it? Basically, it is a process of thoroughly planning your business intentions especially relating to your app’s value proposition. Most importantly, plan everything based on the question “ Why are you launching your digital product”?

By Failing To Prepare, You Are Preparing To Fail

Through a successful discovery phase, you’ll be able to:

  • Establish business outcomes and product vision

  • Identify and prioritize your product features

  • Determine app metrics and success criteria

  • Validate your idea before investing in development

  • Get investors’ attention

  • Maximize your ROI

  • And most importantly avoid costly mistakes

Remember, even the all American hero, G.I. Joe once said “knowing is half the battle”. Follow the next 4 steps to win half of the battle that is app development.

Product Vision

What is your product? How will your product create value for your customers? Develop a product strategy using your vision statements:

  • Define who your end users are

  • Define what problem exactly are you solving with your product

  • Define how is your solution different from the rest of the market

Once you have answered all of that, you have a clearer understanding of what your product requires in order to satisfy your end-users. You are now ready to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) .

Product Definition

Users have high expectations from their apps. If they are unsatisfied or if an app does not add value to their lives, they will most likely stop using it. This is why it’s crucial for you to have insight into your target market!

As soon as your product launches, you will want to have continuous engagement with your end-users. Until then, you have to use your product vision and make it into a product that serves a certain purpose in peoples’ lives.

In this step, define your product. How will your vision come alive? What features do you need in the initial launch? In our experience after the first 2 stages, most people will have a huge list of amazing ideas and features. Saying goodbye to an idea or feature can be hard, but since resources are always scarce, you have to choose exactly which features to keep. From a user experience standpoint, dropping a brand new platform with 10 different functionalities can be tough for new users. Whereas a new platform that solves a specific problem and gets the job done is much more attractive to most users. The MVP is the set of features that your product absolutely must have.

In this step, we also want to examine the User Journey. User journey includes the actions your end-user takes to reach the goal your product is created for. Use your product definitions to create value for your end users throughout their “journey”. Guide users according to your wire-frame and product road-map. We recommend at the least doing a Business Model Canvas to check the viability and difficulty of your new product or service.


In this step, we turn our focus to visualizing our solution in a way that details the user experience and user interface. Now that you have established your goals for your product and your target audience. You need to outline the steps your user takes when using your product. Your wire-frame should also show how your features come together

Why is it important?

If you are looking for investors or if you need to present to your stakeholders, your best chance at winning them over is with a high-fidelity, detailed presentation of your app. Use your wire-frame to illustrate the basic functionality of your app. Remember, here you only demonstrate the primary features that are essential to your product’s success, so make sure that when linking these features together they are user-friendly.


This is your final step! 😀 Once you have a wire-frame, now all that is left to do is to use your wire-frame to develop a clickable prototype and to optimize it according to the received feedback.

Keep in mind, that your product at this phase is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Meaning, your product only includes the essential features that are required for you to make it in your market. You have to go through the process of “building-measuring-learning”. Analyze and alter your product according to your users’ initial reaction and identify what features you should include in the future and what features to take out. In your alteration, include features that add more value to your user, or a feature that makes your app even more user-friendly — more convenient to use.

To Summarize

Your discovery phase is the process of transforming your idea of a mobile app into an actionable product. Throughout each step of the discovery phase, you have the opportunity to check your work, receive feedback, and ensure that you are heading in the right direction. Essentially, you are eliminating your risks and uncertainty in your project. It does not take a rocket scientist to follow all of these steps and to create a clickable app prototype. At the same time, it is totally understandable if you don’t have the capacity, the time, or the resources at the moment. Even if it’s merely a vision, call us for a free consultation! A professional agency will help you research if the features are feasible and if the financials make sense, which could be extremely important for you and your stakeholders to know. Help us help you. 😊

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