Discovery process

I have successfully created the ‘Discovery process’ at ‘Cian Group’ (CIAN Group is the leading online real estate marketplace in Russia (e.g. the Russian equivalent of Zillow), / / This project is so popular that the majority of people who need to find a flat for rent or buying go to this site or the mobile app ‘Cian’. The company has a solid development process that leads it to the first place in the Russian market. Moreover, they want to improve their position by resolving an issue that all companies have. The issue is about being sure that new functionality will be demanded among users.

I was hired to create a process for this. We called it the ‘Discovery process’ with the following goals:

  1. To determine users needs and implicit motivation in particular subject.
  2. To check a product hypothesis by validating it on users.
  3. To improve the current functionality.

Process is based on the standard ISO 9241–11 and represents the idea of Human centred design approach showing the impact of understanding user needs.

Structure and participants

Let’s go through the process. There are four people needed to be involved in the project according to the ‘Discovery process’ idea.

  • Product owner — provides ideas for the test
  • UX specialist — conducts an interview
  • UI designer — creates the wireframes
  • Customer service- conducts a phone interview
Discovery process

Each role is very important for the project. The process starts from filing in a brief form by the Product owner. The form includes:

  • Goal of the project
  • User segment
  • Metrics of the project
  • Deadline

Later the project is discussed within the team. It’s very important to engage all team members in the discussion so that it leads to empathy and creates awareness about the initial issue.

1. The first workshop

The first workshop clarifies the goal and requirements of the project. ‘Cian group’ is a big company with a history and has a list of conducted A/B tests and marketing researches. Therefore, it is important to have collaborative work between the UX researcher and the Customer service (the Customer service conducts marketing researches and has a list of users’ requests to the Customer care) to find out what job has been done in the same area within the company.

It should add additional information for understanding the issue.

2. The second workshop

The next step is clarifying the ‘Persons’ who are related to the changed functionality. I would recommend to use the ‘Product Diffusion Curve’. The Product diffusion curve shows different ‘Persons’ during a project adaptation. It starts from ‘Innovators’ and finishes with the ‘Laggards’.

Product diffusion curve (

After determining the segments of users you should discuss the current journey and points where and how ‘Person’ contacts with the product.

The next step is to understand what impact your tested hypothesis has on the Journey and change it if needed.

As a result of this workshop you have:

  • Selected ‘Persons’ from the ‘Product Diffusion Curve’ who are related to the project
  • Their Journey
  • Understanding how the Idea changes the Journey with the list of Particular pages/screens which should be revised according to the tested hypothesis
  • Low fidelity wireframes representing the changes
  • Tasks for the designer for creating high fidelity wireframes based on low fidelity analog.
Example of low fidelity wireframes

After that the Designer starts works on wireframes. In parallel the UX researcher and the Client support start recruiting people for the test.

3. Recruiting people

The primary question is selection of test participants. If you test hypothesis on customers from a wrong segment, you can make irrelevant conclusions.

It’s very important to take into account participants’ characteristics by using the results of the previous workshop. The key characteristics are selected from the segment determined at the second workshop: age, outcome, habits, needs.

For example, if the payment process is to be improved, then it’s important to invite ‘Early adopters’ because they represent the main segment and the process of payment is created for these people. In addition, it’s necessary to choose two types of people from ‘Early adopters’ who use it successfully and who reject it. It would be more efficient to diversify the tested groups by inviting not only ‘Early adopters’ but it will increase the costs and time to the project.

4. Scenarios

The next step is creating scenarios for the test. Some tips how to do it.

  1. Create a new document in Google Sheets
  2. Write down the hypothesis and opened questions in the first column. Write questions for the respondent who should give you answers for your theses in the second column. For example:
Table 1. Scenario for testing

3. Share the scenario among your team

4. Collect the feedback

5. Change the scenario according to the feedback

5. Discussing scenarios

This step can help with involving all members to the discussion and realize what screens you have missed. The designer should work on the missed screens then.

6. Conducting the test

Now is the time to conduct the user test.

Some tips:

  • Don’t invite more than 3 people per day. You will spend at least one hour on each one of them and it will be difficult to get all the points after the third person.
  • Before the test tell them how important their opinion is.
  • Relax them by saying that you are testing the interface not them.
  • Have a short conversation with them before the test about their lives (For example, ‘Please tell me about yourself’). It can reduce stress level.
  • Show them the envelope with the remuneration stating what you will give them the money after the test.
  • Ask for permission to record a video. It would be great to get their permission on paper. To do this, prepare the form in advance. It should contain information that this video will be used only within the work group not for publicity.
  • After the test, add all observations to the file with scenario and questions immediately .
Table 2. Notes about users

Iterations of wireframes

Sometimes you can have iterations of wireframes within the project improving the wireframes after several users. We are not talking about serious changes but about small important things.

How it goes:

You start speaking to the users and gain knowledge about their experience: listening what’s important for them, observing what they see and what they don’t see. There is no need to speak to all users in order to change obvious faults in the wireframes. From the moment you start talking to your users, you can see the point with their eyes and it broadens your perception about the blocks on the page.

7. Next idea

The next step is presenting the results and conclusions to the team. Not all from tested functionality you should transfer to the development team. Create the roadmap of the project based on priority from user’s side and implement only key features.

Sometimes after the project you will create a new idea based on user’s interviews or you will notice implicit needs in particular functionality . All these reasons initiate the Discovery process again. For sure, you also need to test final mockups. So Discovery process is an endless circle which should be repeated until you have living project.