Designing a product is a process with already established steps you and your team should follow for the best chance of good results. To illustrate it via an example – no one starts building a house from the roof right away. They begin with basic measurements, procuring materials, and then move to the building’s foundation.
That’s why we present this product design and development guide for UX professionals who are a part of the product design process.
Understanding Product Design
Product design means creating, developing, and providing users with a solution that satisfies their needs.
We will focus solely on digital product design rather than physical products created via mass manufacturing. Thus, we can define a digital product as an intangible good that exists online, such as a website or an application.
The main focus of product design isn’t the look and feel of the product – it is about how the product works. That is where product design intertwines with UX (user experience) and the craft of creating useful and practical product experiences for users.
What Exactly is the Product Design Process (PDP)?
The Product Design Process is an established cycle of a user-focused approach to designing digital products. It intertwines multiple disciplines, and its key goal is to make great products that can be easily placed on the market.
You may even find the PDP useful if you have a project that you want to grow through optimization. Whatever your starting point is, you will be using PDP to solve specific problems users have.
Now, let’s move on to the specific steps PDP entails.
Generating ideas or ideation is the core of the creative process of the PDP. It’s the precursor that will set the tone for the rest of your product design and development journey.
But many teams get stuck on this step already. They expect to come up with a perfect product right then and now. Besides such a product not existing, the gist is that product design and development rely not on delivering the whole product right away. Rather, it relies on the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – the initial result holding the minimum of required features that the user needs.
When brainstorming, keep in mind that rarely can you come up with something entirely new. You can iterate upon an existing product – ask questions about existing products! Can you combine two products into one? Can you modify and adapt a product into something more practical? Can you substitute a feature of a product for another one?
Generating ideas means you are developing the product’s concept while considering the business model you use and the user’s needs. That is the part of the process where the product designer and UX designer collaborate a lot.
Research and Planning
Your product won’t go anywhere if it’s not practical to realize. To find out if your product can be designed and developed, you need to do proper research and planning. That is where hiring a product design and development consultancy can help tremendously.
Product validation is a part of the research step of the PDP. It’s the part where you research the usability and profitability of your future product. Will it waste time, money, and other resources? Ask yourself this, and also do the following:
- Survey friends, family
- Survey your target group
- Use Google Trends and other tools to research the state of the market
- Pose questions on Reddit and Quora to get some additional insight
- Launch a landing page or Coming Soon page to find out what’s the interest in your niche
Getting feedback from unbiased audiences and target audiences is crucial to validating your product. While doing this, downplay feedback from those who tell you they would “definitely buy the product”. People are quick on promises, especially if they hear a good idea. But no transaction is truly done until the money is handed over.
Another important part of research is competitive analysis. Someone had a similar idea and they’re already running a business. Research those entities that occupy the same space as you and go after the same audience.
Here are some things you can do:
- Sign up for your competitor’s newsletter to see how they attract customers
- Visit their website to get a sense of their UI
- Survey your target audiences to see what they like and don’t like about the competitor
- If needed, buy the competitor’s product or sign up for a free trial to do a deeper dive into the product’s features
All of this can give you ideas for your product – from the elements it needs to have to the demand and profit it can generate. Then, you can move on to more detailed planning that involves:
- Sketching the product
- Considering the retail price of the product
- Considering the category of the product
- Choosing the possible labeling and packaging methods
Now, we move to the fun part…
Prototype, Source, and Deliver
Here is where you need to start thinking of a Minimum Viable Product. It helps you get product validation, and user feedback, and gather information on making small albeit important changes.
If you are a startup, customers can be used to research their interests, reaction to the messaging, and the UX. That sets off a chain reaction of useful ideas you can implement.
After you secure a satisfying MVP, you need to start thinking about your supply chain – the vendors, partners, resources, and actionable steps needed to be taken to get the product delivered to the customer.
The process of developing a supply chain mainly consists of:
- Scouting for suppliers
- Finding storage space
- Finding viable shipping solutions
- Securing warehouses
Don’t go for the first option you come across – for suppliers, find multiple ones and compare their pricing. That will get you the best deal – but it will also give you a backup if your partnership falls through.
Once you do the needed business analysis that will define the cost and profitability of the product, the only thing left is delivering the product to the target audience! That is where the marketing team moves in to do their magic via:
- Paid ad campaigns
- Product launch emails
- Affiliate marketing
- Instagram shopping options
- Highlighting favorable user reviews
While the Product Design Process has its established steps, that doesn’t mean that its intricacies don’t change by the day. After all, with tech and algorithms getting updated often, you need to keep light on your feet.
Research often, conduct audits and surveys, and integrate tools and tech that help your performance and product.