The Role of a Discovery Phase in Application Development

Difficulty: Intermediate

Estimated Completion Time: 9 minutes

Developers tend to put the most effort in development stages other than discovery. In the meantime, however, more than 81 million brand-new mobile apps were released via the Google Play Store. It indicates a high level of competition in the contemporary software market.

The discovery phase of app development greatly assists developers in making digital solutions with chances to go viral. So let’s learn more about this stage, its steps, and why it is so essential.

What is the Discovery Phase in App Development

The product discovery phase is basically creating a blueprint for developing a future digital tool. 

At this stage, you verify your idea against the competitors on the market. In other words, you conduct comprehensive research. Next, you combine your pre-defined business objectives and determine user expectations. Then, you ensure that the future app will not operate against the existing laws and regulations. Finally, you make an initial design decision and set clear development steps.

This is what a discovery phase in app creation looks like without extra details. And now, let’s learn more about the benefits to your business from following the discovery steps precisely. 

  • Ensures a clear understanding of the project.
  • Helps achieve agreement with the client regarding the direction of the development.
  • Identifies business needs.
  • Identifies competitors to look up to.
  • Helps define the required functionality of the future app.
  • Helps define the required design of the future app.
  • Helps define clear goals to follow.
  • Enables strategic planning.
  • Ensures careful consideration of user feedback.

The potential usefulness of the discovery stage in mobile app development is hard to overestimate.

If you want to build a smooth discovery process,
consider partnering with the experienced team.

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Key Stages in Application Development

Insight into the discovery phase in mobile app development will not be complete without a clear indication of the other four stages of the development process.

1. Discovery

What is the discovery phase of app development? Many attribute some of its elements to other stages or rule them out completely. It is vital to have a clear vision of a future digital product before proceeding to the actual development process. 

So, discovery is the very first stage, and its outcomes serve as the foundation for the following phases. Besides the above-mentioned nuances, it is important to know that discovery may partially include actions typically performed in the subsequent development steps.

The rationale is that without prior trials, there cannot be any confidence in the success of the intended development. Most often, developers prepare a raw model—or prototype of the software—to test the planned features and the functionality overall.

2. Design

While the initial visual design is a part of the discovery phase, more complex and detailed design solutions are prepared in the second stage.  

3. Coding

A discovery phase of software development may involve some coding in the prototyping stage. But the main phase of the application building is assembling a fully-fledged digital product according to the plan. 

Coding may involve using multiple software solutions and programming languages to translate a digital system’s design into code. This phase’s outcome is a functioning product prepared for further testing and release.

4. Quality Assurance (QA)

Also known as the validation phase, the QA stage helps polish a finished software solution to perfection. 

This phase typically comprises two stages. The first is in-house testing, with developers themselves and hired QA testers involved. It is necessary to eliminate code errors omitted during the coding stage.

Complex applications may undergo alpha and beta releases performed over non-commercial editions of the software. A circle of outsourcing QA testers and enthusiastic users try a new app and leave feedback regarding its functioning. 

5. Release and Maintenance

Finally, after the QA testing is completed, developers may proceed to the first commercial release of their application. It involves uploading the app on a marketplace like Google Play or Apple Store. 

Developers almost always keep gathering feedback from users to prepare future updates on an app. They also perform technical maintenance and support of the software. 

7 Steps of a Discovery Phase in App Development

The discovery stage in app development requires careful consideration and a comprehensive approach that comprises the following seven steps:

Generating an Idea and Setting Clear Goals

Everything begins with an idea. The initial insight is especially significant as it defines what the future software solution will look like and serve. Then, you should establish clear goals you intend to achieve with your app. They will guide your market research. 

Market Research

Next, it is vital to research similar applications of the main competitors on the market. It will help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of the popular software solutions. To outperform your competitors, you need to avoid mistakes they made and focus on features that users love. 

Brainstorming Solutions

Once there is a general understanding of what is meant to be achieved, it is time to generate tangible ways to do so. You may want to brainstorm ideas for achieving your defined goals and outshining competitors. Typically, you will have a set of undeveloped ideas to be revised. 

Bringing and Reviewing Ideas

After concrete ideas are formed, you should review them multiple times to determine the viable ones. In case you have a broad audience, you may even conduct a survey to learn more about the preferences of your potential users. It will help you separate what functionality is needed on the market from what you personally want to include in your software.

Initial Design Solutions

Creating a nice-looking and user-friendly interface is not possible without drawing the first rough artwork—sketches. Once you visualize your future app’s appearance, it is time to put it on paper or in the digital environment. You may also share initial drawings with your audience to collect their opinions regarding the design.

Finalizing or Prototyping

After both the ideas and initial design solutions are prepared, they can be combined to get the initial impression of the intended application. 

In most cases, developers create a raw model for testing—a prototype. It is simply an interactive mockup with basic functionality and a primitive design. It helps you test an app’s functionality via a user control panel. A prototype is essential for a better understanding of how the future solution will function. You may want to reject some ideas and make changes at this stage. 

Planning and Prioritizing

Finally, as there is a primary model of future software, it is possible to set clear goals, establish a concrete project roadmap, and prioritize development steps. You may guide your planning based on how the test model performs, as you already have a prototype. 

Establish clear development steps for future stages, set achievable goals, prioritize them, and define deadlines. Now you can proceed to the next stage—advanced design.

If you need something out of the list,
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The Discovery Phase in Application Development: Why It’s So Important

For starters, every application can benefit greatly from a thorough discovery stage. However, some apps can do without it and still be successful. 

Types of apps that are unlikely to succeed without the discovery phase are the following:

  • New to market apps.
  • Apps that target a highly competitive environment.
  • Apps that are intended to solve a niche problem.

And here is the list of digital software that may not need discovery in app development:

  • Apps that are new releases of already existing software that have already gathered much feedback.
  • Apps intended for internal use of the business and their functionality and design are defined by the client. 
  • Apps intended to serve models for testing innovative functionality or technology that is unknown to the market.
  • Apps that will serve as software for electronic devices, such as smartwatches.
  • Apps for non-commercial use.

Although there are not many cases in the first list, these cover the vast majority of digital solutions. At the same time, the ones mentioned in the second list are mostly exceptions.

Consider Weelorum Your Trusted Partner in Developing Your Mobile App

Weelorum is a reliable contractor with years of experience creating in-demand mobile software solutions. We are proud of our substantial approach to the discovery phase in application development. You can check our portfolio comprising applications that fit their niches perfectly. 

Take a brief look at some of the benefits you receive from hiring our team:

  • Superior quality of digital applications.
  • Compliance of software with existing regulations. 
  • Constant customer support.
  • Transparency at every development stage.
  • Careful considerations of your business needs.
  • Respect for your privacy.

Do not hesitate to contact us with your project details. We will respond shortly.

Final Thoughts

In essence, discovery is the very first and exceptionally important for the success of your app phase. It ensures that you have a set of clear goals to achieve and the planned software has a chance to become popular.

From designing to release and maintenance, the discovery phase facilitates every consequent development step.


What are the essential steps of the discovery phase in app creation?

You cannot go without conducting proper market research, brainstorming ideas, and creating a well-thought-out plan, while others—are optional processes.

What happens in the discovery phase of a project?

You research the market, create a comprehensive outline to follow, and, preferably, a prototype of your future project for testing, which significantly facilitates the development process overall.

How does the discovery phase in mobile app development differ from the same stages in other software?

This stage offers a brief look into what will be done further in the development process, but it does not replace the designing, coding, testing, and release stages.

Who are the specialists involved in the discovery phase?

This stage may require effort from a project manager, business analyst, tech lead, UX/UI designer, solution architect, and some other developers, depending on the complexity of the discovery phase.

Table of content
What is the Discovery Phase in App DevelopmentKey Stages in Application Development7 Steps of a Discovery Phase in App DevelopmentThe Discovery Phase in Application Development: Why It's So ImportantConsider Weelorum Your Trusted Partner in Developing Your Mobile AppFinal ThoughtsFAQ
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