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Co-Discovery Method

The Co-Discovery Method is a variant of the Think-Aloud Protocol in which two or more participants use the product together, helping each other as they would in their natural work environment. When peers work together they express their impressions, frustrations, and thought processes more naturally; therefore, this method yields a clearer picture of how the product is used and where users struggle.

This method is especially useful for industry-specific applications because users are more likely to be collaborators in the workplace. However, any application or website could benefit from this method.


Schedule Time

  • Time per Session: 1 Hour

  • Number of Sessions: ~ 3

Gather Materials

  • An interactive, testable version of your product

  • Two participants per session

  • Video camera

  • Notebook


  1. Develop your test scenarios. Write a list of tasks that multiple users could execute together.

  2. Recruit participants from outside your product development group or outside of your company. Pair people who are known to work well together to ensure natural, honest communication between them.

  3. Provide a brief description of the Co-Discovery Method, explaining that you’d like to understand how two users interact while using the product to solve a problem.

  4. Ask participants to speak out loud as they think through their problem solving. Tell them to help each other as if they were completing this task as part of their daily job.

  5. Present users with a task to execute and begin your observations.

  6. Record the session on video and take notes.

  7. Repeat the test with different pairs of test users.

  8. Review the sessions, looking for common pain points and areas of difficulty, as well as occasions in which users are delighted by the product.


Try these tips

  • While this method can be performed with a low-fidelity interactive wireframe, a high-fidelity prototype will often give you the most useful insights.

  • Two people who work closely will usually develop communication shortcuts (wordless gestures, expressions, inside jokes, etc.). Be alert for these. Some communication may need clarification after the session.

Explore more resources

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