step by step guide to product design process

Have you ever wondered why some companies rise above their competitors despite having similar products? 

Facebook isn’t the only social media app, nor is Lux the only soap still; we can observe their product life cycle is longer than their competitors.  And sometimes, a new product suddenly emerges that takes over its competitors like Tiktok. 

People will give numerous reasons if you ask them, but the most basic reason is their unique innovations. It didn’t just happen in one day; in-depth market research, competitor analysis, ideation, testing, iterating, and a lot more procedures are included, which I can call in-short “product design process.”

The effectiveness of your design process will determine the chances of your product being successful. How? The answer lies in the definition. 

What is The Product Design Process?

A product design process is a sequence of steps followed by a product team to develop a design solution. It is a series of tasks that follow a product from its conception to its execution.  Here you can see how you can build a product from concept to a commercially available finished product for the intended consumer.

It includes a framework for discovering a market opportunity, establishing a clear problem, devising an appropriate solution, and verifying the solution with actual consumers. 

 It employs a human-centered approach to transform the solutions to the targeted audience’s problems into a sustainable business model. Product design is an integrated approach to building a product from scratch, which also includes the continuous development process to sustain itself in the market. In UX terms, it can also be called design thinking. 

Why is The Product Design Process an Integral Part of a Business? 

It is essential for the success of product development to have a solid understanding of the end-user customer. Product designers employ empathy and knowledge of their prospective customers’ routines, habits, frustrations, needs, and aspirations to address actual problems for actual people.

If the product design is well executed, no one will even notice; users will be able to utilize it as needed without thinking about it because the design will have anticipated their needs.

However, the importance of product design does not stop there; it continues to be important in enhancing the user experience and guaranteeing that new features and improvements are added without negatively impacting the product’s usability. Maintaining brand integrity over the course of a product’s lifecycle is still essential.

It is impossible to come up with a single design process that works for all products, whether they are tangible or not. It involves adapting the process to accommodate the needs and objectives of a particular project.  

That’s why I have brought comprehensive guidelines that will help you bring solutions to almost every pain point. Let’s start learning about it! 

Read Also: 7 Most Effective Interaction Design Principles

Step-by-step Guide for The Product Design Process 

1. Establish your Vision 

Before you even think about building the product, there is one very important step you must take before you can even start. The first step in making a product should be for the product team to come up with a product vision and strategy. This will not only give you and your team a direction, but it will also show you how to reach your goals.

During this step, you must consider your business and its objectives.  Consider the issue you are attempting to solve and who can benefit from your solution. Finally, consider what you wish to accomplish in the future and how you envision the optimal user experience.

You should invest time and resources in determining your vision, mission, and values. It’s an important step because it lays the groundwork for the success of your product in the long run. After doing all of this, it makes sense to move on to trying to figure out how to solve the problem.

2. Start with User Research 

What is a product?  A product is a solution that solves the user’s problem. To build a product, it’s important to understand first what problems you are trying to solve. So to solve the problem, you need to understand their struggles, right? You can find it through user research. 

How Can User Research Help You Avoid Failures?

User research is one of the most important parts of design strategy. It helps you make the best product possible for users. Most importantly, you’ll have data to support your decisions about strategy and design. User research can also help you find the very first people to try out your product.

Companies might squander a lot of money, time, and resources chasing impossible or undesired goals if they don’t have facts to back up their assumptions. 

It is what has resulted in huge product design flops like New Coke, Apple Newton, and the Segway. To avoid product failure, businesses must make data-driven product discovery.

There are four ways you can gather information:

Pro Tip: Define goals and questions first and then try to find those answers. It will keep you on track! Create some hypotheses, and make questions based on those assumptions. You will be able to devise efficient strategies if you first establish a vision. Now back to the point.

User Interviews

A pretty standard method of qualitative research that can be done in person as well as remotely. Despite the fact that organizing and analyzing interview findings might be time-consuming, this method has the advantage of revealing more insights from direct dialogue with users than surveys alone.

Online Surveys

Surveys and questionnaires enable you to acquire a large volume of quantitative data in a short amount of time. While they are quick and affordable to perform, the negative is that you may miss out on deeper insights that you would normally obtain through in-person encounters.

Contextual Inquiry 

A method in which you observe people as they go about their daily lives in their natural surroundings. This forces you to put yourself in your consumers’ shoes, allowing you to empathize with them fully.

Market Research

Knowing how your competitors solve similar problems is an important part of designing a product because it lets you learn from their mistakes and design patterns.

Once you have gathered data, it’s time to go on the voyage to discover the product! 

Product Discovery 

Product discovery is a way to learn more about your customers so you can make products that meet their needs perfectly. It’s a vital process in the product design process because if organizations don’t accurately verify or challenge their assumptions about their customers, they may squander time creating products that nobody wants.

Now that you have user data, it is essential to analyze it thoroughly and derive meaningful insights from it.

By making a map of user stories, you can find patterns or topics that come up over and over again from different users and user sources. These issues should be refined into major user concerns and used to generate broad and particular questions and hypotheses for discovery.

You can also create the following 3 artifacts to help you define the problem:

Journey map: This is a literal map representing the user’s journey, with “actions” representing stops along the way to their destination. It is vital that these are founded on empirical user research. Journey maps are often made by just one or two employees of a business based on their experience and intuitions. Incorrect journey maps might lead businesses to be misled.

Empathy map: An empathy map is a four-quadrant diagram of the customer in which businesses jot down what their customers think, hear, see, and say about their problems and opportunities. This will aid in developing a solid understanding of how your products and services affect people’s emotions.

Consumer persona: A consumer persona is a representation of a subcategory of your users, like “power users” or “aspiring amateurs.” The majority of personas consist of a catchy name followed by a series of demographics, psychographics, and behaviors that assist businesses in visualizing their customers during the design process.

Now that you have defined the problem, it’s time to come up with possible solutions. This leads to the third step of the product design process, which is called: 

 3. Ideation

The product discovery process’s first two stages are about understanding the problem. Now it’s time to start solving it.

Ideation is the act of generating a plethora of ideas for the defined problem. It is feasible to initiate brainstorming sessions and other collaborative gatherings in an effort to crowdsource prospective ideas and produce potential solutions to stated challenges. Ideally, these collaborations should combine the right-brain and left-brain thought processes, as many challenges necessitate both imaginative and logical methods to develop viable solutions.

Some of the popular ideation techniques are brainstorming, brain dumping, storyboarding, sketching, analogies, mind mapping, etc. to know more about it, read the article

Screen your ideas (idea prioritization) 

Now that you have a list of prospective new product design concepts, you must choose which ones to pursue and which ones to discard. Consider your competitors, your existing items, their flaws, and the market’s requirements. Utilize the client demands list you’ve compiled and the identified opportunities for product enhancement.

Using SWOT analysis, you can evaluate the business idea’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to determine its viability. While you conduct analysis, find answers to the following:

  • Most identified customer requirements
  • technical viability of the concept
  • the extent and level of required research and development
  • Profitability of the concept. How would you make money off of it?
  • How many resources will be necessary for its development
  • Will it align with your company’s profile and objectives?

Validate Your Ideas

Idea validation ensures that you are creating a product that people will pay for and that you are not wasting time, money, and effort on an unsustainable idea. You can validate your product ideas in a variety of ways, including

  • Sharing your concept with your target market via internet forums, for example.
  • Launching a crowdsourcing campaign.
  • Using Google Trends to investigate market demand
  • Requesting preliminary input on Reddit, Quora, or Facebook.

Competitive analysis is also an unavoidable component of validation research. If your concept or niche has the potential to gain market share, there are already rivals in that field.

Visit your competitors’ websites and sign up for their email lists to see how they draw clients and make purchases. If you want to distinguish yourself from the competition, it helps to find out what strengths and weaknesses your potential customers see in the offerings of your competitors.

Product validation and market research will give you an idea of how much demand there is in your product and how much competition there is before you start making arrangements.

Develop & Iterate

Next, design a mockup or MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and seek user feedback on it.

You can use mockups and prototypes to make up for any differences between how users react to an idea for a product and how they react to the product itself.

For example, customers may tell you they want more video editing options on the dashboard of your subtitling software, but adding those features would make their view more cluttered and make it harder for them to use the product in a simple way. You won’t know until you try.

Don’t get too carried away with it. The goal is simply to make some short prototypes for user testing.

There are several approaches to this: you may create mockups or clickable prototypes, or you can simply observe users as they use similar products to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Now that your prototype is complete, it’s time to reach out to users again. To determine whether you’re building the right product, run some prototype testing and get user feedback. 

These are the two usability testing methods:

Moderated Usability Testing

With moderated usability testing, a real person will be present in person or remotely to lead and support the usability test.

Unmoderated Usability Testing

When a participant is not supervised or directed in any way, this is referred to as unmoderated testing. Using websites, many tasks can be accomplished remotely.

If the responses of your users verify your hypothesis and early iteration, you’re ready to begin development. If not, start tweaking your prototypes until you’re convinced that the solution you’re offering is truly what your users want.

Post-launch Iterating 

After all, adjustments have been made; you should have a plan for launching your product. Production and growth marketing must collaborate in a coordinated fashion at this stage. 

It is vital to note that the product design process continues even after the product’s formal release. In reality, product design is an ongoing procedure that continues as long as a product remains on the market.

The performance of your products on the market can be unpredictable and require adjustments along the route. Utilizing marketing metric analysis and stakeholder feedback, you will be able to get fresh insights and enhance your product accordingly.

Conclusion 

According to research conducted in 2018, organizations that performed best in design experienced average revenue growth that was 32% higher than their rivals over a five-year period. During the same time span, they also had a 56% higher shareholder return.

Making things pretty is only one aspect of the design process. Design is the method of discovering and satisfying needs and expectations through the development of a product or service, either physical, digital, or a combination of the two.

Hopefully, the steps discussed in the article will help you attain your goals so that you can come up with innovative solutions and improve people’s lives with your products and services.  And if you need help, we will be happy to help! To know more about contact us!

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