What do people mean when they say a certain product is “good”? Mostly, they are talking about its design and usability. We live in a cut-throat market competition where companies gain an edge over their competitors through their product design.
Therefore, for every designer, product manager, or marketing manager, it is crucial to understand the product design process to set themselves apart.
This article will discuss product design and development through six simple steps to help you design the best product.
The product design process is based on the concept of “design thinking.” It is a human-centric innovation strategy that compares any product’s needs with its viability and economic feasibility. To design a product, you have to identify an opportunity, define the problem, develop a solution for the problem and justify it to actual users.
Before you start thinking of a product design, as a designer, you should identify
● The problem you wish to solve
● Who it affects, and
● Your solution.
Answering such questions will help you identify the users’ needs and, in turn, the usability of your product. It will also give you a framework to find a solution, i.e., an apt product design.
There are five steps to product design and development. As you move from one step to the next, you will observe that a product designer has to play multiple roles. You will have to learn about market research, data analysis, product management, etc., along with product designing.
There is a lot to cater to; hence, your team should follow steps to stay on track:
● Define: Define the exact problem you wish to solve for the user. This will be the “problem statement” you will refer to at every step of the product design process.
● Ideate: Unleash your mind and think outside the box to create the most creative solution.
● Prototype: Implement your ideas by building a simple model.
● Test: Present your prototype to real users for their feedback.
Now that you know the process’s basic flow let’s see each product design step in detail.
Before beginning a product design process, your team needs to assess if there is a need for it in the first place. Also, you need to understand the customer’s expectations for the product you are designing. This can be corroborated by carrying out user research. Some common methods to carry it out are
An interview is a common research technique for collecting information. While time-consuming, it can help assess the user’s needs and feelings. You can conduct on-site as well as remote interviews. However, if given a choice, in-person interviews are better as they provide more behavioral data through body language and verbal cues.
Surveys and questionnaires overcome the drawback of time consumption with interviews. They are inexpensive to run and can cover a large area to gather more information in less time. However, they lack the on-ground insight that you get from personal interactions.
Another smart way is to conduct market research to ensure that your product has a competitive advantage. Competitive research is undertaken to analyze competing companies’ products.
There are two types of competitors:
● Direct, whose products offer the same or very similar solutions to your future users, and
● Indirect, whose products are targeted towards your consumer base without a similar solution.
After empathizing with the users, you need to define what problem your product will solve. For this, organize the information from user research into common themes and patterns. You should look for those challenges that show up repeatedly to form a “problem statement” that will trace the challenges you wish to resolve.
The problem statement should center around the user. For example, instead of stating, “We will increase online groceries orders by 30% in the 40-50 age bracket,” frame it from the user’s point of view: “People in the 40-50 age bracket need an easy online interface to order groceries.”
By this product design step, you know your target audience’s needs and have a problem statement to solve. Now is the time to think of possible solutions. The ideation process should be an unrestricted zone where you encourage your team to think unconventionally and brainstorm new ideas.
Do not think of their feasibility now; just come up with as many ideas as possible. You can narrow them down before heading on to the next step. However, keep some design principles in mind. These could be attributes you don’t want your product to have; for example, your product should be
● Simple but not boring
● Personalized, not conventional
● Engaging, not addictive
Once you have narrowed down a solution, start working on a prototype. A prototype is a simpler version of the actual product through which you can test your ideas before investing in the real product. One of the most efficient ways is “rapid prototyping,” which involves creating a testable solution, getting feedback from stakeholders, and refining the areas that need improvement.
Prototypes can range from paper models to operating digital prototypes.
● Paper prototyping involves sketching on a paper that allows designers to try different alternatives without much time and effort. Plus, it requires no special tools.
● Digital prototyping creates an interactive interface that people can experience. Nowadays, prototyping tools enable designers to create high-functioning prototypes as well.
A vital product design step is usability testing. It will help you locate any usability issue before investing more time and effort in the solution. Some common usability tests and tools are
● Moderated testing: Under moderated testing, a real person facilitates the usability test either virtually or on-site.
● Unmoderated testing: With unmoderated testing, the person is not being monitored. Websites like UsabilityHub can be used to recruit participants to conduct these tests remotely.
● Random testing: With random testing, test subjects are selected randomly to try a product they have never seen or used before. Such tests can quickly ascertain the usability of a product.
● Dogfooding: This refers to the in-house testing of a product before releasing it in public. It allows the team to identify any critical issues.
A product designer’s work does not end with the launch of a product. It continues till the product is being sold in the market. As the product designer, your goal should be continually improving the product based on user interaction.
What are the ways to analyze it?
To see how the product performs on the ground, you must look at the numbers – profile visits, search queries, bounce rates, etc. The product team must monitor metrics analyses to see if the product satisfies the customers. Tools like Google Analytics, Hotjar, and Mode are good for understanding user behavior.
To avoid a product recall, prioritize regular user feedback. It can be carried out through online surveys or customer support tickets. Incentivize users to share their reviews through offers or coupons.
In A/B testing, when designers cannot choose between two options, roll out two versions to two equal sets of users. Then, use metric analytics to determine which version users prefer.
Ultimately, remember that products are made for people to use. Therefore, the product design process should revolve around the people. As product designers, you hold power to change societal behavior with your products. Therefore, be conscious of the choices you make while designing. Remember, a good product will deliver the right features to the right people.
The product design process involves empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing.
There are three types of product designs – system, process, and interface.
It includes various steps like brainstorming, conducting user research, sketching, sample testing, etc.
The design of a product is crucial for the company as it determines its success or failure in the business circle and market shares. It directly affects the company’s reputation.
A design strategy caters to design, business and technology. An ideal product design will define the product, what makes it successful, and its feasibility.
Product designers should be efficient at decision making, working in a team, and have good communication skills.