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Discoverability in UX: How To Ensure Better Experiences

What is discoverability in UX design? Learn how to help users find the correct information and make their interactions efficient and satisfying.

Written by RamotionJun 6, 202413 min read

Last updated: Jun 6, 2024


When users interact with any product or service to complete tasks, they must leverage the design in the best way possible. Designers, when considering user needs, need to focus on maximizing utility and creating a seamless experience. For this to happen, the users must discover any design's valuable features and aspects.

The concept of discoverability is not new to UX design. However, it is critical to consider and understand this aspect comprehensively, as every interaction begins with the users discovering the design and its utility. Any UX design firm must give due importance to discoverability when conducting user research and designing interactions.

Discoverability in UX Design (Image source)

In this article, we introduce the concept of discoverability in UX design and discuss ways to design discoverable interfaces. We also share real-world examples and case studies to provide a better understanding.

Read along as we discover the simple but critical concept of discoverability in UX design.

Foundations of Discoverability in UX

The term discoverability refers to the ease — or difficulty — with which any item, object, or feature can be found and its utility understood. In the field of UI/UX design, discoverability is linked to the ease of access to features, content, and UI elements.

What is discoverability in UX design?

Discoverability refers to the ease with which users can find helpful information – such as text content, UI elements, features, etc. – when interacting with a design. It is one of the key aspects of any design, as the discoverability of information is important for accomplishing specific tasks.

Discoverability is concerned with the ways in which users are able to locate, understand, and access features and useful information in any design.

A discoverable interface does not merely enable users to find information and the help needed to complete tasks. Therefore, when users discover any information or feature, they are in a better state to make the most of it.

In this sense, discoverability differs from other concepts like findability and visibility. Findability refers to the practice of users actively seeking information and then successfully finding it. Conversely, visibility comes into play when designers structure the content in a helpful and findable manner.

Discoverability is a more subtle and overt concept. The designers are more concerned with the fact that the information should be available for the users if and when they need it.

Why Discoverability Matters?

Discoverability of content, features, and UI elements is extremely important for a good user experience. When users encounter any product or service, the affordances of the design play a critical role in defining the level of user satisfaction. For most users, finding alternative solutions is a more sensible solution than spending time finding the utility of a design.

Therefore, creating and making content discoverable is essential for a winning user experience. These aspects are important for meeting user needs and contributing to user retention, thus significantly impacting the business.

On the contrary, low-level—or lack of—discoverability in a user interface hinders users as they attempt to complete specific tasks. This can happen in several ways, such as the search results not returning appropriate content and the UI elements not performing the way users expect them to. When users encounter such features and elements, their overall experience takes a hit.

Additionally, poor discoverability means that users will need more support and guidance. Therefore, businesses must spend a lot of time, effort, and resources providing adequate support to users.

Strategies for Designing Discoverable Interfaces

Now that we have understood the concept and established its significance for UX research and design let's explore strategies to ensure good discoverability and content creation.

Below are some of the best practices for ensuring that users can easily discover features and leave with a satisfying user experience.

Providing straightforward navigation

The ease with which users navigate when interacting with any design has a lot to do with good discoverability. It is important to ensure clear and easy navigation with breadcrumbs, information about the system status, and guidance wherever needed. This will help users discover features and accomplish tasks seamlessly.

Creating responsive designs

Discoverability designers should create responsive and adaptive designs—the ones that give quick and good feedback to users and lead them to the right content according to their needs. They should also focus on the inclusion of important features—such as search—as well as the quality of these features, such as the efficacy of search results. 

Creating Responsive Designs for Better Discoverability. (Image Source)

Utilizing visual and interactive elements

Another best practice is to provide an interactive experience to users. If we go back to the example of search and search results, the inclusion of search suggestions can significantly enhance the user experience. Similarly, focusing on mobile-first design can help provide the same content better, allowing for more engagement.

Ensuring visual and textual hierarchy

Visual cues and hierarchy strongly relate to the level of discoverability. By addressing aspects as simple as the layout of the information, the use of color, and the choice of typography, designers can eliminate a number of discoverability issues.

Creating a learning experience

Users who interact with new designs are learning new things. This is where focusing on a learning experience can help guide the users better, where designs can deliver new information effectively and enhance the designs' discoverability.

Examples of Successful UI Patterns

Several UI patterns, when implemented appropriately, can ensure good discoverability and a seamless user experience. Some important ones are as follows.

Search feature

While users are almost always flooded with information, search functionality in any design is now becoming inevitable. The inclusion of a simple search bar on a website or mobile application and the provision of relevant search results can greatly increase user satisfaction.

Hamburger menu

There are several different types of menu items in UX design. The hamburger menu is one such item that is arguably the most famous and commonly used option. This UI element clearly indicates to users when they’re looking for relevant or additional information, thus guiding them in a familiar manner.

Menu Items in the Interface. (Image Source)

Testing and Improving Discoverability

Similar to any UX design strategy, the mere inclusion of some features cannot guarantee good discoverability. Therefore, designers should test the level of discoverability and improve it along the way.

Techniques for Measuring Discoverability

Some important techniques for identifying discoverability issues include usability testing, A/B testing, tree testing, and analytics. These techniques help designers devise a strategy that ensures users’ satisfaction along with better discoverability of the relevant content.

1. Usability testing

Usability testing is an essential technique in measuring any design's discoverability level. Carefully designed usability tests can help answer necessary questions about user behavior and needs. With modern advancements like eye-tracking, designers can also visualize how easily users discover useful information.

2. A/B testing

A/B testing is another important technique for understanding the efficacy of discoverable content and whether the design is helping users achieve their goals.

Tools such as Crazy Egg can be used to conduct quality A/B tests on different versions of user interfaces, helping designers gather valuable insights.

3. Heatmaps and Analytics

Heatmaps help in understanding the level of user engagement with the content on digital platforms. Similarly, information from analytics tools gives the designers a clear idea of user behavior and whether they can discover the right information. Hotjar and Google Analytics are some tools that can be of great help to designers.

4. User feedback and interviews

One of the best ways to assess the level of ease — or not — with which users can find relevant content is to gather feedback by conducting surveys and interviews.

Since real users participate in these sessions, the information gathered about user satisfaction and user expectations is valuable. Designers can use this data to enhance the discoverability of content, features, and UI elements.

5. Iterative Design and Continuous Improvement

Like any other technique and practice in UX design, the importance of iteration and feedback loops in creating discoverable content and highlighting important features cannot be overstated.

The information gathered based on usability testing and other techniques mentioned above can be utilized best if the designs are refined regularly.

A defined process for constant assessment and iterative improvement helps understand the level of user engagement at a given point and ensures that the importance of user experience is never ignored.

Overcoming Challenges in Discoverability

Since users' needs change based on the context of use and their goals, it can be challenging to focus all aspects of UX design in the best way. Similarly, enhancing discoverability is a challenging aspect of design.

Designers encounter several obstacles as they aim to improve a design's discoverability. Some of the most common obstacles and their solutions are discussed below.

1. Balancing simplicity and innovation in design

One key challenge is ensuring that users are able to discover and understand all the necessary features, but there is also an element of uniqueness and innovation in the interaction. When users navigate a website or mobile application, something should stand out. Finding the right balance without hampering the user’s ability can be challenging.

The best way to overcome this challenge is to return to the basic principles of UX design. Starting with familiar information and interactions is always helpful, as it ensures users’ trust in the design. The focus should be on keeping things simple and without any complications.

2. Creating adaptive and responsive designs

  • Challenge: different devices and contexts; important to adapt to those; also to ensure responsiveness in the designs, but all of this must happen with consistency
  • Solution: understand the context of use; take mobility and the use of different devices into account; perform tests with a range of audience groups

Another important challenge is focusing on the designs' adaptive and responsive nature. Keeping the context and experiences on different platforms can pose a challenge. The designers must ensure consistency in the design. The best way to tackle this challenge is to focus on the context of the use.

When mobile-first design and the users' mobility are considered, the designers are better able to design for varying environments. The goal is to make information easily discoverable and add to the users’ ability to accomplish a task.

3. Ensuring cognitive load management

  • Challenge: making information discoverable but not overwhelming the users
  • Solution: provide a learning experience; understand the needs and start with a familiar experience; always focus on a minimalist design.

Managing users' cognitive load is always an important concern for designers. While new features can be interesting, they can also prove to be overwhelming for users in certain cases.

When designers focus on creating a learning experience, they can better manage the users’ cognitive load. Small things, such as search functionality, can help make information more discoverable.

Examples of Adaptive UX Strategies

Some of the best examples of adaptive UX strategies highlighting how designers attempt to improve discoverability are as follows.

1. Google Maps

Google Maps is one of the best cases where users' context is always prioritized. The design provides visual cues, ensuring a good user experience. Additionally, the search suggestions and necessary information about the routes make it easy to discover the right content.

Adaptive Strategies Implemented by Google Maps. (Image Source)


Netflix is another excellent example of creating adaptive and discoverable content for the target audience. One of Netflix's best features is its personalized suggestions, which allow users to spend little time discovering the right content.

Personalization and Recommendations by Netflix/ (Image Source)

Discoverability Case Studies and Real-world Applications

Good discoverability of an interface plays a critical role in enhancing user experience and improving user satisfaction. One of the best ways to understand this aspect is with the help of real-world examples.

Tech Industry Examples of Good Discoverability

Several examples of good discoverability in interfaces exist, particularly in the digital environment. Two significant ones are discussed below.


Spotify has quickly risen in popularity as a streaming music and media service. Along with the variety and quality of content on Spotify, one key factor in its success is the good discoverability of the interface.

Spotify’s Simple and Responsive Design. (Image Source)

When users navigate the application, they are quite easy to come across new music that they might like simply because of its design. Additionally, the recommendations, smart shuffle, and responsive search bar add to the user experience.


Instagram is another popular and excellent example of good discoverability in interface design. An important thing to note is that new features, particularly related to stories, always keep on rolling in. However, the app's simple design makes it easy to discover, understand, and use these features in the best ways.

Instagram’s New Features and Discoverability. (Image Source)

The search functionality of Instagram, like several other platforms, is now enhanced with the introduction of Meta AI, adding to the discoverability of content.

Lessons from Failed Designs

Some bad examples can teach us a lot about applying concepts. Two important ones concerning discoverability are discussed below.


Craigslist has been around for quite some time. However, the platform's design is simple and easy to use. When users interact with Craigslist, it takes work for them to locate content quickly.

Cluttered Design of Craigslist. (Image Source)

The content is cluttered and can easily overwhelm users. Due to the overwhelming design, despite the presence of features like search functionality, users are quickly switching to other simpler platforms, such as Facebook Marketplace.


  • Cluttered interface
  • Overwhelming design
  • Lack of integration

Evernote is another design that has quickly faded away, leaving a vacuum for competitors such as Notion, which has improved discoverability. The design of Evernote was a little overwhelming, with a lack of integration and support for other apps, making it difficult for users to have a seamless experience.

Evernote’s Design. (Image Source)

Content Optimization for Discoverability

In most cases, an interface's discoverability is directly related to the quality of information and the ease with which users can locate content. Therefore, it is important to optimize the content so that search engines can return the right information.

Enhancing content quality with a good content strategy is important to improve its discoverability. This is where knowledge of SEO and search rankings also comes in handy.

1. Textual and visual hierarchy

Focusing on textual and visual hierarchy not only helps present information better but also provides good visual cues to users. If the information, features, and UI elements are organized appropriately, the discoverability of any interface is enhanced.

2. Search engine optimization (SEO)

It is important for designers to understand search engine optimization (SEO) and how it could complement UX design. SEO and UX cannot be separated in digital interfaces, particularly when it comes to discoverability. Having a good UX content strategy, along with a good SEO strategy, will ensure that search engines lead users to the right content.

3. Analytics for a better content strategy

Another important aspect to consider when focusing on the discoverability of an interface is to keep an eye on analytics. The information gathered with the help of analytical tools can help understand the behaviors as users interact with the design. This helps provide them with the right information when they need it the most.


Discoverability is important when providing a good user experience with increased satisfaction. Designers must understand and have the skills to implement this concept in their projects.

This article introduced discoverability and discussed its challenges to give a comprehensive overview. The examples and case studies discussed above can inspire aspiring designers as they make their designs discoverable.