Once you have zeroed in on an idea, your product development process is primarily divided into 4 key phases-
To make your product successful, it is important that each product development step goes through in a proper manner. Breaking down the complete product development process into smaller phases also helps you to plan on that individual cog at a time rather than the full product. You can then work to make that small steps count, set up a goal and timeline for it, get help on it and execute it to perfection.
The design phase is mainly focused on discovering the various solutions that are possible and zeroing in on what really works best for end-users. Just like you cannot have a carpenter design your house, your software cannot start with developers. The software has to start with design first. During this phase, you have to make decisions regarding the usability and user experience. You have to prioritize what goes in the product and what stays for later release. This phase results in building a blueprint for the development.
Your primary skill during this phase would be to fix upon your vision and articulate it well with your team. This way the team that would primarily consist of the UX and analysts make decisions in line with your mission.
It would be helpful to understand what constitutes a good design. What makes top apps really tick and what really does your user want?
The steps included in this stage are:
A Design Sprint or equivalent process should be set up to articulate understanding of users, research, usability and priorities. The idea is to work through the different solutions possible and create a chartered path for the team to follow.
A Design Sprint is a unique process for validating ideas and solving big challenges through prototyping and testing ideas with customers.
An aspect that I primarily like about this phase is the encouragement for founders to speak with real users, interviewing them and understanding their expectations.
User persona, though a fictional character, reflects your real user and helps the team understand the user to be able to make decisions for the user.
Persona is an important aspect in software design as it helps the teams in developing a user-centered product that completely represents them as well as is built in a way that suits the needs of the users.
In a world where softwares fight for user attention span, creating user personas is the first step to build a user-friendly product.
Keeping the competitors closer, one needs to analyze both the strength and weaknesses of the competitor.
A competitor’s research is a good starting point to understand why and how something is already accepted in the market.
We live in a world where every idea is being built in some form or the other. So when our customers point out that they do not find anyone ever built this idea before, rather than being happy, we are cautious. In such a situation, we always suggest that it is important to check why a particular idea has not been built. Is it due to some external or environmental constraint or is there a blocker for end-users? You can find your competitors in various ways.
A user survey is an important part of your journey to identify your user needs and expectations. A survey has to be created in a manner that it is able to recognize the latent needs and aspirations. Questions should be open-ended and the survey should be taken on a phone or in-person rather than over email. Sample questions that we insist to be used for a product survey are
Q. How do you solve this problem currently?
If they do not solve it then possibly it is not important for them
Q. Do you use any tools for solving this problem?
This will give you a sense of competition.
Q. How willing are you to change your current tool if a better solution is available?
This will tell you how strong is the competitor placed in the minds of your audienceTools such as UsabilityHub can be great to create tests that you can use to get an opinion about any visuals or content etc.
Setting priorities completely depends upon the goals of the product in the current phase. When the teams set clear and well-established goals they tend to clarify their priorities easily because they have the primary focus and therefore they possess a clear vision of what they need to work on first.
We suggest making 3 buckets namely Could Have, Would Have and Must Have and put all features in either of the buckets. We also do voting exercises during the wireframing stage to prioritize features.
Once the team has gathered all the information, an information architecture helps to organize the information into a hierarchy-based flowchart that encapsulates the different modules within the platform and how they are connected with each other. This way, one can figure out how users would navigate through the functionalities of the product and find everything they need.
In Summary, the team gets a complete blueprint ready that becomes the roadmap for the developers to follow. At the end of the design process, the team creates wireframes for the project. The wireframes put everything together with a clear roadmap to follow. Backed on ample user research and a scientific approach the team has now built a strong foundation of the product. Conclusively, the idea is now ready to go into the next stage.
At Mindbowser, my CTO and I teamed up to build an agency that can bring the best of tech and knowledge to founders.
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A successful platform has many moving parts. By breaking the product development process into smaller manageable steps, you can accomplish small wins every day that can turn easily into a successful product. All of the product development steps mentioned in this blog will help you as a guiding light as you move toward accomplishing your vision. The design, the decision, the development and the launch phase are all very important steps for a new product development process. Happy Reading!
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