Published Fri Feb 24 2023
Product Design Process: A 6-Step Guide
Nowadays, customers are highly demanding, and they pay attention to design. In fact, businesses that use design receive 32% more revenue and get 56% more shareholder returns.
When it comes to creating great products, design is the essential part you should not overlook. Nowadays, customers are highly demanding, and they pay attention to design. In fact, businesses that use design receive 32% more revenue and get 56% more shareholder returns, on average. So, a product design can either break or make your business thrive. It is what sets your business apart and gives you a real edge over competitors.
Whether you’re a product manager, developer, designer, or project manager, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the product development process in order to create your best work.
The product design process provides a clear understanding of what the final product is going to look and feel like and what problems it will solve.
Creating a product design may seem a daunting task. However, with a few useful tips, you will be able to get started. In today’s article, you will learn the nine steps of the product design process.
Why Does Design Thinking Matter?
Before jumping into the design process steps, it is essential to understand why you should care about design thinking.
Product design is not a fixed structure: using a flexible process enables you to feel confident in getting to know your users, fixing problems, and achieving your product goals.
Below are the essential benefits of design thinking:
- It enables you to be more customer-centric and empathize with them.
- It’s evidence-based, relying on testing and observing users.
- It gives you clarity on complicated problems.
- It reduces confusion and enables you to become more confident in design decisions.
- It helps you come up with innovative solutions.
- It helps you and uses design patterns out of habit.
- It ensures your team and stakeholders are on the same page.
- It’s not rigid. So you can tailor the process to your needs and requirements.
Product Design Process in 6 Simple Steps
Now, it is high time to dive into the main theme of today’s article. Follow the below-mentioned seven steps to succeed with your product design process.
1. Define the Product Vision
The first step to take is to identify your product vision. It’s an important strategic tool allowing everyone to understand the main goal and their responsibilities. Defining a product vision at the very beginning of the journey gives every stakeholder an idea of what success should look like.
So, you need to get started by defining a clear and precise vision. More specifically, focus on the following questions.
What do you want to achieve? Telling your audience that you have launched a new product is too banal. Think about what you want to achieve with your app. An app for learning different languages or finding healthy recipes is more specific. These are all examples of strong product visions.
How are you going to achieve this? You are free to think big as long as you are able to achieve your goals. Your product vision can be highly ambitious but unattainable at the same time. So, instead of going big on your first product design project, it is recommended to start small for better results. Ensure to identify how you are going to achieve your goal, set clear deadlines, and determine all the resources to accomplish.
Why are you doing this? Regardless of the objective, you should understand why your brand vision is important. Answering this question can help you easily get started.
Who is this for? Your final product needs to be concentrated on the customer. If your consumers don’t benefit from your end goal, then you won’t be able to succeed. So, make sure to prioritize your customers and their needs.
2. Conduct Product Research
Apart from determining your product vision, it is also essential to do product research. It allows you to gather important data to understand how your product fits in the market and find out what your consumers think about it.
There are a few effective ways to do this.
Interviews Interviews are one of the most effective ways to gather information from users. You can perform both face-to-face and online interviews. However, online interviews do not allow you to read the consumer’s body language, which can tell a lot.
Surveys Surveys are also highly helpful. You can conduct them at almost all stages of product development and still gather useful data. Many people prefer surveys over interviews as they are less time-consuming.
The key to collecting the most useful information is to ask the right questions. Avoid asking Yes/No questions, as they don’t allow you to see the large picture. So, opt for open-ended questions to get as much information as it is possible. Also, make sure to keep your questions short and concise.
It’s time to jump into the ideation process. During this stage, enable your team of designers to brainstorm different solutions. Now that you have plenty of data, it will be much easier to come up with ideas.
You can use a few brainstorming techniques.
Mapping user journey A user journey map shows the user flow, enabling you to see where they go and what they do on your website and in your app. It allows you to get an accurate picture of how (and where) to engage people.
User stories These are short pieces telling businesses who the consumers are, what action they want to take, and what expectations they have.
Storyboarding Storyboards are one of the best ways to visualize information. This way, you will have a better understanding of your customer journey.
Sketching Sketching is a useful activity as it motivates non-designers to share ideas. It is also an effective way to encourage collaboration, as some of the most fun ideas come from people who don’t have any background in design.
Once you are done with the brainstorming phase, your product team can better understand what they want to create. During the design stage, the product team will start creating solutions to solve the customer’s problem and implement concepts. The design team will try to come up with creative ideas using a few elements and principles of design.
To deliver a great user experience, prototyping should be a part of your design process. Prototyping enables you to test the design before creating the final solution.
When it comes to prototyping, effectiveness is crucial. One of the most efficient prototyping processes is rapid prototyping. If you are prototyping for the first time, you can try rapid prototyping, which includes three stages.
- Prototyping: Building a solution that can be reviewed and tested.
- Reviewing: Introducing your prototype to consumers and stakeholders and collecting feedback that helps you understand what’s working well and what should be improved.
- Revising: Based on the feedback you receive, determine areas that need to be revised or clarified.
5. Test Your Product Design
As we have already mentioned, it is important to test your product design before you get it in front of a wider audience.
You can try usability testing. It is an essential part of the design process as it enables your team to get useful feedback from customers during the ideation phase before anything gets launched. This is important as it allows you to detect any usability issues before investing more time in developing the solution.
Usability testing methods and tools are the following:
- Dog-fooding: Dog-fooding is a widespread way to test your product in-house before getting your product in front of the public. This way, you will be able to identify the pain points and improve them in the future.
- Guerrilla testing: Guerrilla testing is a usability testing method that usually involves random people being asked to complete a quick usability test in public places. Such testing is performed with people who have not interacted with your brand before and can provide objective feedback about your product design.
6. Assess the Results
Just because you have launched your product, it doesn’t mean that you are done with your product design process. In fact, this is just the beginning. Now it is time to enhance the experience. You might think you have achieved the best quality. However, there is always room for improvement.
So, you need to take some post-launch activities to understand what’s working and what isn’t.
Understanding how users interact with your product design Now when your product is ‘live,’ you can understand how consumers use your final product. More specifically, try to figure out whether your end product solves their problems or not. Or, maybe you can analyze what challenges they face while using your product.
Collecting feedback from consumers Analytics cannot tell you everything. So, it is better to speak directly to your consumers. Before you reach out to your customers, think about what you want to find out and how best to contact the right people. This could be in the form of surveys or short questionnaires.
Launching new products that will efficiently address users’ needs is difficult, if not impossible, without a clear digital product design process in place.
Creating a design for a new product is important when it comes to meeting your product goals.
Following a clear design thinking process helps teams to produce work that meets their customers’ needs and expectations.
In order to come up with creative solutions, you need to find out what problems your product solves. Gathering insights and doing thorough product/user research will allow you to successfully complete your product design process.