You have a great idea that you know will help make a positive difference in people’s lives. You worked out the details about how your product will look and work, but where do you go from there?
Your idea is the very first step in the product development process. This is the process that takes your idea from a thought to a fully functioning successful product.
For many consumers and those new to creating products, this process sounds mysterious. For a product to be successful, the process needs to be flexible. While it may sound straightforward to some, it’s actually a windy road that jumps forward, backward, and all over the place.
Are you interested in learning how to make an idea into a successful product? Here’s a look at the windy road that makes up the product development process and how your ideas can go from imaginary to real-life.
The Product Development Process
One of the most unique aspects of the product development process is that it’s not cut in stone. You don’t need to follow it exactly as written.
The purpose of this process is to guide you, but it also offers the flexibility to jump around as needed. Depending on the product or design you’re creating, it’s normal to jump back and repeat steps until you get your design just right.
Step 1: Brainstorming the Idea
If you already have an idea for a product, then you’ve already achieved most of this first step. But it’s not always this fast and easy.
For most designers, engineers, and developers, this process starts with brainstorming an idea. You’ll start learning about your target customers’ needs and gathering data through surveys, observation, and feedback about existing products.
After you gather this data, you can see what people need and want. From there, you can brainstorm ideas for a new or improved product.
Step 2: Picking the Strongest Idea
You have a list of ideas, but how do you pick and move forward with the strongest one? You share your ideas with others. Before you do, narrow your list down to the few ideas you feel are best.
If you’re working in a company, share your ideas with the stakeholders or decision-makers. If you’re working independently, ask for feedback from a mentor or a potential customer.
As you share your ideas with others, you will want to explain the benefits as well as the cons. Other aspects worth discussing include cost estimates, what resources you have, and what you might need. You’ll gain insightful feedback which will help you choose the best idea.
Step 3: Researching the Market
At this point, you might want to leap ahead and start developing and designing your product idea. Before you do so, you will want to research the market and validate your product.
You’ll be researching the need and demand for your product. Is it something that people need and are willing to buy? Is it a new idea or is there a similar product that does the same thing?
The last thing anyone wants to do is waste time and money on a product that no one wants or needs. Validate your idea by sharing it with others via surveys, forums, landing pages, and any other ways you can gain feedback. You’ll also want to check your competition to see what the demand is like for any similar products.
If there’s plenty of interest, you can move forward, but if not you will want to edit and improve your idea. Once you have a strong idea, you’ll determine how much it will cost to develop and test. Then you’ll need to determine the profit and if it’s worth the investment.
Step 4: Create a Prototype
This is where the fun begins and you can finally see your idea as a product. This first design is a prototype, a sample of what the finished piece will be like. It lets you test it by seeing, feeling, and using it.
The point of a prototype is to determine how easy to use and useful the product is. It’s usually a very simple and sometimes unattractive version of the product.
This step allows you to test the product and make any design or engineering changes before you test it with others. Once you have your prototype the way you like it, it’s time to test it.
Step 5: Testing & Iterating
Have you ever tested something and found it worked well? But as soon as you had someone else try it, they gave you a long list of improvements? While your idea may work for you, it might not work as well for your potential customers.
Testing and iteration are two important steps in the product development process. It allows you to find ways to improve your product that you didn’t think of before.
Find potential customers, coworkers, and stakeholders to test your product and give you feedback. From there you can make changes to improve your product and test it again. Try to have different people test your prototype or release it in small areas to see how it sells.
For the best possible product, it’s normal to repeat this process several times. You’ll be ready to move on once you’ve made changes and people give you positive feedback.
Step 6: Launch Your New Product
The final step in the product development process is to market and launch your final product design. This involves determining how many products to produce, where to sell them, and how to market them. This also includes looking for custom product packaging and determining the right price.
Marketing involves sharing your new product release with people who are most likely to buy it and benefit from it. As for production, you don’t want to spend too much time and money on something that might not sell as well as you thought.
Ready to Develop Your Great Idea?
The product development process is a way to guide you through the sometimes messy process of developing a product. You have the flexibility to jump back and improve your idea or product as necessary to ensure you launch the best possible product on the market. Not only will this process make your product better, but it can also save you valuable time, money, and ensure you make a profit on your hard work.
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