User Research - Google Ventures

I wonder what do you think are the real benefits from doing "Discovery" questions?

  • 1
    What is a 'discovery' question? When and where do you want to ask it? Give an example or two.
    – Willem
    Feb 15, 2015 at 6:59
  • 3
    Please present the specific content that you are asking about with some more information. Linking to a 90 minute video doesn't provide that, as someone would have to spend 90 minutes to even know what you're asking.
    – JohnGB
    Feb 15, 2015 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: Discovery = What do we make? Usability = Did we make it right?

Usability, as the term is now used, is evaluative. It's about figuring out whether a particular web site / app / whatever is usable. Discovery, in the way that GV are using the term, is generative. It's about discovering the needs and pain points of a group so we can figure out what we need to build.

Both evaluative and generative user research are hugely valuable - but in very different ways.

Generative / discover related research is all about figuring out what problems to solve. Evaluative related research is all about figuring out whether our solution actually solves the problem.

For example we're in the middle of rebuilding our company website at the moment.

We'll be doing usability testing to figure out whether folk can navigate it reasonably, whether they can find the workshop descriptions, whether the can contact us, etc.

However, the discovery work that have already happened has told us about the pain points our customers have, the kind of language our customers use, how particular terms are ambiguous, etc. Which in turn has led us to develop and market specific workshops with specific language, etc.

Usability testing reveal very little about whether we have the right workshops or not. Discover would reveal very little about whether people can book a workshop.

  • So when do you use "Discovery" and "Usability" at the same time? Feb 20, 2015 at 4:53
  • Depends what you mean by "the same time". Generally the practices are one or the other. E.g. ethno-style interviews are pretty much all discovery - since you're not evaluating a product. Process wise you'd do both discovery & usability practices at the same time when you're in an environment of rapid exploration & testing. Finding new stuff out & testing whether what we found out is correct. That kind of setup is what you'll sometimes see in startups, agile & lean teams.
    – adrianh
    Feb 21, 2015 at 8:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.