What is the Discovery Phase in App Development?

Have a great idea for an app that you can’t wait to start developing? That’s good – but as much as you may be rearing to jump in to its development, you should first make it a point to go through the discovery phase.

But what exactly is the discovery phase? Why is it important? And what do you need to do?

Discovery Phase Explained

To put it simply, the discovery phase is a process that precedes the start of an app development project. During this phase, you’ll want to outline the scope of the project and research its target market.

The goal of the discovery phase is to understand the project better, identify its potential and limitations, find out the needs and requirements of end users, and finally come up with a simple rough prototype. By doing this you’ll be able to determine how viable and feasible your app is.

Importance of the Discovery Phase

Although it may sound simple, the discovery phase has proven time and time again to be extremely crucial to app development. It can help to put your project on the right track by allowing you to:

  • Build a more marketable app by understanding the needs of the end-user and making design decisions accordingly.
  • Clearly define and prioritize the key features of the app and what is necessary to build them.
  • More accurately estimate the budget and timeline after coming up with a viable roadmap.
  • Reduce the overall cost of the project by avoiding unnecessary detours and minimizing the risk of costs you did not expect.
  • Improve the user experience by coming up with early designs that can be optimized and iterated upon.

All that is just the tip of the iceberg, but it should be enough to make it clear just how important the discovery phase truly is. Skipping it is never a good idea, and could very well come back to haunt you.

Steps of the Discovery Phase

Carrying out the discovery phase for app development typically requires the involvement of several parties including the project manager, business analyst, software architect and app developers, and UI/UX designer. The product owner, managers, administrators and investors may also be involved.

The exact steps of the discovery phase may vary on a case by case basis, but typically it includes:

  1. Collecting information by defining the target audience, app objective, key features, potential competition, technical limitations, and other relevant areas.
  2. Structuring ideas and brainstorming to evaluate the available information and if necessary do more research to supplement the existing project documentation.
  3. Creating user avatars and stories to better understand end-users and create ideal solutions (in the form of features) to the problems that they face.
  4. Analyzing the competitiveness of the app by researching its competition, identifying both its strengths and weaknesses, and determining its opportunities and threats.
  5. Producing specific requirements and technical specifications that outline the entirety of the project and its functionality.
  6. Creating a prototype of the app that looks and functions per the requirements and technical specifications so as to act as a proof of concept.
  7. Making final decisions regarding the technology and platform, budget, timeline, and other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

All said and done, by the time you’re finished with the discovery phase you should have a complete understanding of the requirements of your project as well as a working prototype and comprehensive plan on how to develop the final product.


As you can see, the discovery phase is a vital part of app development. Even if you aren’t using an in-house team, you should discuss it with the app development company that you hire so that you can get involved.

Going through a thorough product discovery phase will yield tangible results that can have a huge impact on the success or failure of your entire project. Without it the risks involved will be much higher, and the final product may not turn out the way you initially envisioned.

Considering all that, the question you should ask yourself is: Do you really want to risk your entire project? Or would you rather give it the best possible chance of success?


Writing has always been a big part of who I am. I love expressing my opinions in the form of written words and even though I may not be an expert in certain topics, I believe that I can form my words in ways that make the topic understandable to others. Conatct:

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