How to fill out a pre-discovery questionnaire

The process of filling out a pre-discovery questionnaire is an important aspect of project planning as it help us validate a client’s business idea before we move on to the product discovery workshop.


When it comes to organizing and conducting product discovery workshops, our goal is to be as efficient and as thorough as possible. This means defining all the needed information about custom software or applications that our client wants us to create. In order to achieve that goal, we always opt-in for a custom-made, client-centric approach to organizing workshops, and that means we need to validate our client’s business idea and gather some basic information about them before any type of organizing starts.

This is where the pre-discovery questionnaire comes into play!

What’s a pre-discovery questionnaire?

A pre-discovery questionnaire is a set of questions we ask our clients to answer before we start structuring a product discovery workshop. Those questions are spread across 7 different sections:

1. Introduction
This section covers the basic aspects of our client’s idea, their vision for the digital product and challenges they’re facing.

2. Company/Client
This section covers the question about the client itself, their company, the industry they’re working in and business goals they’re trying to achieve.

3. Product & Market
This section covers the information about the digital product our client wants us to create, its unique aspects and insights from any conducted research.

4. Content
This section covers the information about all visual and textual content that can be used for the digital product. It includes product copy, images, videos and data.

5. Users
This section covers the questions about specific target groups who will use the product. It includes the information about their needs, expectations and wants.

6. Competition
This section covers the topic of other companies with similar digital products that are already on the market or expected to launch soon.

7. Design
This section covers the visual aspect of the digital product that is to be created. It focuses on defining benchmarks as well as key elements like colors.

Questions in these sections range from really basic, general questions to really specific ones that can be considered more complex. We are, of course, aware that our clients might not have the answers to all the questions in the pre-discovery questionnaire, so we always give them a simple instruction – answer as many questions as you can, with as much detail as you can. You see, answered questions enable us to structure the product discovery workshop and focus it around key aspects of our client’s idea, while the unanswered ones show us where we need to probe deeper during the workshop itself. Nothing goes to waste!

OK, now let’s jump into the questions themselves and briefly explain what we expect to see in the answers. FYI before we continue – when we mention product or digital product, we refer to custom software, mobile applications, web applications, interactive installations or any other type of digital solutions.

Section #1: Introduction

Question 1: Tell us a bit about this project in general.
Please share with us the information about the bigger picture, the vision behind this project and explain the idea in as much detail as possible. Also, tell us more about your desired solution for this project, what challenges have you faced with it and, if you can, tell us a bit more about the overall scope of the entire project.

Question 2: What is the single most important business problem this product will solve?
Tell us more about the issue this product helps solve, how this product should solve it and what is the reasoning behind it. Additionally, tell us why this problem you defined is a problem in the first place.

Question 3: How do you suggest we learn about your business and industry?
Please share with us all available sources of information that will help us to explore your business and the entire industry you’re operating in. It could be links to websites, books, magazines, your internal documents – anything you believe will help us get enough relevant information about your business and industry.

Question 4: What are the key motives for the production of this product​?
Tell us why do you want to create this product, what do you plan to achieve with it and what end goal drives you to push this through to the end.

Question 5: What is your business model?
Tell us a bit more about your business plans, the ways you plan to monetize this digital product and ultimately make a profit, and why do you think your chosen business model is the right one for this product.

Question 6: How would you describe the success of this project?
Briefly tell us how do you plan to measure success or failure of this product. Also, tell us what do successful outcomes look like to you in regards to this digital product (is there only one successful outcome, are there more).

Question 7: What results are you expecting after launch?
If you have them defined, list and briefly explain all key performance indicators tied into this project.

Question 8: What is your bulk investment for this project?
If you have it defined, please tell us how much money are you willing to invest into the production of this digital product.

Question 9: What’s your desired timeline for product launch?
Tell us the approximate date when you would like to have the finished product.

Section #2: Client/Company

Question 1: Briefly introduce your company.
Tell us more about your company, what do you do, when did you start, what’s your background. Imagine this was an ‘about’ page on your website and provide us with as much information you can.

Question 2: Do you have any core values?
If you have them defined, tell us more about your company values. Explain what your company stands for and how do you express that to the public.

Question 3: What is your company’s mission and what goals are you trying to achieve?
If you can, please tell us what your end goal is, what is it that guides you, what is it that drives you forward and what do you as a collective want to achieve.

Question 4: Briefly describe market/industry you are in.
Please give us some more information about the industry you’re working in. Explain the business side, the main players, what is it that drives innovation and progress within it, what are its good aspects, what are some of its bad aspects, what challenges did you encounter.

Section #3: Product & market

Question 1: Describe the ​product in a few sentences.
Briefly explain what this product should be, what it should do and how should it be used. Provide us with as much information as you can about the product itself.

Question 2: What problems (for their users) will this ​product​ solve?
Tell us more about the issue for users this product will be able to help them with. Also, tell us if anyone has already managed to successfully solve that issue and what would make your product different/better from their product.

Question 3: Tell us about your product goals.
Please share with us all available details regarding your financial, customer-related and operational goals that are tied in to this product.

Question 4: Did you make any research efforts already?
If you have conducted any kind of research in regards to this product, issue it’s trying to solve or target audience, please share with us the results you gathered, as well as any and all insights you acquired during the process.

Question 5: Is there any existing research data already available?
If there’s available data, please send us the information (links, articles, summaries, papers…) about conducted surveys, market research, analytics, customer support or any other conducted research that could be in any way connected to this product.

Question 6: Is there anything you learned from the feedback already?
Provide us with any insights you already got from any type of conducted research or conclusions you were able to draw from them.

Question 7: Based on your product idea, name the 3 things that are most important in the product.
It could be anything from features to visual elements, communication, technology that should be used or anything else that you believe is crucially important for the success of this product.

Question 8: Based on your product idea, name the 3 things that are least important in the product.
Same description as in the previous question, only here we’d like you to tell us more about the aspects you believe are not important at all for the success of this product.

Question 9: Why is your product different than other ​products on the market?
Briefly explain why your product is or should be different from other products that try to solve similar issues, or other products on the market in general. Write down and explain all elements that make your product stand out.

Question 10: What are you long term goals with the ​product?
If you have them defined, tell us more about your 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, 10 year, end goals you’re trying to achieve with this product.

Section #4: Content

Question 1: Can you provide us with content (text, images, data) for your new ​product?
Tell us do you have all the content needed for this digital product. If you don’t have it, tell us who will be handling the production of the content – will it be you, some of your associates, freelance professionals, maybe other agencies you might be working with or maybe you’d like us to handle that aspect.

Question 2: Do you have any specific media (photos, videos) you plan to use?
Please share with us all visual material you believe we might find useful during the production phases of the project.

Question 3: Do you need us to find and/or create any images for the ​product?
Tell us if you’ll handle the production of all the visual content needed for the digital product or if you’d like us to create or find the appropriate material.

Section #5: Users

Question 1: Who is the target audience of the product?
Describe the type of people you plan to target with your digital product. Be as specific as you can be and include all demographic factors you have defined.

Question 2: Can you describe your typical user? what are their goals and needs?
On an example of a single, fleshed-out person, tell us more about your typical user. What would an ideal user of your product look like, what are their goals, needs, where are they working, what’s their position, what’s their income level, how do they spend their time…

Question 3: Do you have any data or insights regarding your users?
If you can, please share with us the results of any research you might have conducted or insight you might have acquired in regards to your target users.

Question 4: What are their expectations about the product?
Tell us what do the members of your defined target group expect to get out of your digital product. Describe all elements they might find important.

Question 5: What would be the main source of motivation for users to use your product?
Tell us why would the members of your defined target group want to use your product. Describe some of the main benefits they could get out of your product and how it would affect their lives, personal, professional or both.

Question 6: Can you describe in a few sentences your process how do you sell or plan to sell your products or services to your users?
Please provide us with all the information you can about the platforms you’re using on plan on using to reach customers and specific steps you’re taking to move them closer to the conversion, as well as specific sales tactics and strategies you implemented or plan on implementing.

Question 7: Can you describe in a few sentences how would a typical user use your product in a desired situation, so they could accomplish their goal?
Explain the typical situation when a member of your target group might want to use your digital product, the goal they are trying to accomplish, how your product helps them do it and the steps they need to take to reach that goal.

Section #6: Competition

Question 1: What are the closest competitors of your product?
If you have competitors with similar digital products, provide us the links so we can check it out, and briefly explain how their products are similar to yours.

Question 2: Is there something you like about them and how do they make you feel?
Tell us a bit more about some specific elements that you like about their products. It could be some specific functionalities, copy on the product, visual elements or anything else that you find interesting.

Question 3: What do you think are the biggest pros of the competition?
Tell us what is it that your competition does extremely well. Additionally, tell us what you believe they might be doing better than you.

Question 4: What do you think are the biggest pains of the competition?
Tell us what do you think your competition struggles with, and what are some of the challenges they might be facing with their product.

Question 5: What makes you different from your competitors?
Give us more information about the specific elements that make your digital product different than the ones made by your competitors. Also, tell us why do you believe your product is or could be better than competitors’ products.

Question 6: Why should people do business with you rather than your competitors?
Share with us all of the specific elements and aspects of your digital product that would or could make users choose your product over some other, or even switch from your competitors’ product to yours.

Question 7: What do your current competitors’ ​products have that you wish to have?
Give us more information about all of the aspects you wish you could implement into your digital product. Anything goes – from specific technical functionalities to business strategies, ways they communicate and anything between you might want to have in your product.

Section #7: Design

Question 1: Do you have specific company colors that need to be used?
If you have a defined colors that have to be used, please provide us with their specific codes in Hex, RGB or HSL. Additionally, if you have them, share with us your brandbook and styleguide.

Question 2: Can you name 2-3 design benchmarks?
Tell us who do you aspire to when it comes to design or visual communication and briefly describe what you like about them. Share with us a couple of links to their websites, applications or social media profiles that show the visual elements that you really like.

Question 3: Are there any related product designs you like?
Think about the product you want to build and try to find similar digital products that have some visual elements you’re fond of. Send us links to those products and briefly explain why you like those certain elements.

Question 4: Are there any other product designs you like?
Now go beyond just similar products and take all digital products from the same category as yours into account. Give us a couple of links and tell us what do find so special about the ones you picked.

Question 5: What types of things do you see on other ​products that you really like?
This is a general question. If you’ve done some research into different digital products within the same product type as the one you’re trying to build (whether it’s a mobile app, software, internal tool or anything else), tell us more about the visual elements you like on them. And briefly explain why.

Question 6: What types of things do you see on other ​products that you really dislike?
The same description as above, only here we’d like you to tell us more about the visual elements you dislike and why.

Questions answered. What’s next?

After our clients send us back the filled out questionnaire, this is what follows.

  1. We take all the answers and go into the analysis mode
  2. We extract the most important information from the answers
  3. We list all of the aspects we’ll need to cover with clients during the workshop
  4. We create the workshop agenda with specific topics and roles for each person
  5. We contact the client and set a date for the product discovery workshop