Product Design Process

Product Design
Product Design Process
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: June 20, 2024

Seven out of ten buyers agree that product design is the number one factor when deciding whether to buy a product. Think about this: As consumers, we buy products that look like they fit in with our aesthetics the most, and any corporation worth their salt knows how to play into effective product design to reach their target market.

Before we dive right in, let’s take a closer look at what product design is exactly and how it can transform your product into one of the hottest-selling items on the market.

Let’s find out.

What Is a Product Design Process?

The Product Design process is a critical framework that product designers use to solve specific problems. The product designer plays multiple roles in this process and executes various tasks. In each step of the process, essential designer portfolio items must be considered.

The product design process and its steps become more evident as we first understand the product design elements.

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What Are the Product Design Elements?

As with everything, there is a lot that goes into product design. The most successful businesses dedicate teams of various specialists to work solely on product design to appeal to their target audience and reach new clientele. These teams include UX designers, marketing experts, animators, graphic designers, business analysts, etc.

Product Design is a multi-step process combining engineering, management, and graphics. It offers a complete understanding of what and how the final product will look and feel and what tasks/problems it will be able to solve.

The product design elements can be divided into three fundamental components:

  • Appearance
  • Quality
  • Functionality

To create a successful, competitive product, designers must work on an attractive and functional product that promises high functionality, performance, maximum availability, and security.

Product Design Process Steps

Let’s get directly to the ten crucial steps in designing a product:

  1. Brainstorming
  2. Defining the Product
  3. Executing the User Research
  4. Sketching
  5. Prototyping
  6. Specifications Compilation
  7. Getting the Factory Samples Ready
  8. Testing the Samples
  9. Starting the Development/Production Process
  10. Assuring Quality

1. Brainstorming

This, of course, is the first step in the product design process. In most organizations, two groups of people are created. One comprises people who generate ideas to solve a problem; the other includes those who process the proposed ideas.

Now, the brainstorming steps further consist of the following three phases:

Defining the problem by announcing it and selecting the participants of both teams

Generating the idea is the second phase. This is about a creative approach where the participants communicate every idea they can think of. The number of ideas is more important than the quality of the same. The ideas can even be absurd but should be evaluated anyway.

Select the most viable idea among the ones proposed in the final stage of the brainstorming process. There are also plenty of brainstorming tools available on the internet that can assist you in making your choice. This action will involve appreciation and criticism of the ideas undertaken by the second team.

2. Defining the Product

Once the brainstorming step is over and the teams have selected the most viable ideas for the future product, it is time to identify a specific number of general expectations for implementation.

David Stellini, Co-founder of All Front, advises against incorporating too many features: "A common mistake we see is product owners laying out impressive roadmaps with loads of features. They usually do it to impress stakeholders, outdo the competition, or secure more funding. But making your design too complex can have a bunch of negative effects.

First, your design team will scramble to determine how to fit all the features into the product. Second, this approach is combined with the mistake of rushing to the next feature without proper testing. It’s also harder for users to get used to a new product with too many features. What you should do instead is identify one critical problem and how you are going to solve it. This way, you can prioritize core features and leave out non-critical ones for future iterations."

Still, the output is a list of somewhat abstract ideas even in this stage. This step is more of determining the directions in which the teams can work further rather than providing exact guidelines on the product development process.

3. Executing the User Research

The third step in the product design process is all about research. The product design team conducts detailed market research to determine the presence of competitors in the market. Alongside that, you also need to assess the prospective longevity of the product, the definition of the trends, and so on.

Cristian Virciu, Head of UX/UI Design at Wolfpack Digital, states that the most common blunders brands make is neglecting user research: “It's like trying to drive a car blindfolded - you might get somewhere, but it won't be pretty! Without user input, you're essentially guessing what works. User research is our compass, steering us towards a truly-click design. It's where we see real people interact with our creation, finding out if it's intuitive or a head-scratcher. Brands need to remember that great design hinges on user satisfaction. It's not about our preferences but what makes the users tick."

Research establishes the grounds on which the customer portraits can be built. These portraits, in turn, would give your team a better understanding of the final product.

An ideal parameter should include factors like age, gender, marital status, income level, employment, place of residence, job position, needs and fears, desires, and typical problems.

In this step, the business analysts and marketers have full responsibility. This step is essential, even if the company tries to create a universal product for everyone. The probability should be narrowed down to ensure the budget is well utilized.

4. Sketching

Preparing sketches is an efficient way of working on large projects with a significant budget. Sketching helps define the direction of the search before investing in finding a solution.

You can narrow down a direction with sketching while choosing the central concept. Only this will pave the way for working on the layouts, composition, edits, and further refinement of the idea.

5. Prototyping

Creating a prototype is sometimes as important as designing the product itself. Prototyping gives you a skeleton of the final product’s look.

However, even with this skeleton, you can define the product's functionality, user interaction, and basic appearance. Prototyping is necessary because it helps avoid many errors and corrections in the future.

This saves time and money while promising peace of mind.

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6. Specifications Compilation

In this step, the product designers should create a list of specifications, such as the traits of a package design. Compiling the specifications enables reviewing the requirements for the finished product and the possible solutions in minute detail.

These specifications should also contain the final delimitation of deadlines, costs, and responsibilities. At the final product development stage, these documents would be precious.

7. Getting the Factory Samples Ready

This step involves manufacturing the pre-production samples. These samples will allow you to understand whether the core idea of the product will attract real users, especially if a rebranding process is in progress.

At this stage, you will also be able to find out if you need to shift the activity vector to the other vital points. At the physical level, you can estimate how ready the manufacturing sector is to produce the goods with the desired quality and speed.

For software, such samples are called MVPs. It is a type of wireframe application containing essential functionality.

8. Testing the Samples

Sample testing allows you to identify the flaws of the product promptly. Finding inconsistencies before moving on to the more expensive implementation stage is a wise idea.

Manufacturing and testing can happen as many times as possible. The idea is to gain the maximum possible positive feedback from the customers.

Make sure to gather user feedback after each round of testing. Arifur Rahman, Owner of Tanur Graphics, highlights one of the most common product design mistakes: "Brands fail to incorporate user feedback and insights into their design. This can lead to products that aren’t user-friendly or don’t meet market demands."

9. Starting the Development/Production Process

By now, you must have already developed an entire technical specification with properly defined tasks, responsibilities, requirements, deadlines, and budget.

The goal is to break these significant tasks into smaller ones and assign priorities. Agile methodologies such as Kanban or Scrum are used at this step in the software industry.

10. Assuring Quality

While quality assurance is necessary at all stages, it is the final step after the product has been released and maintained. The final responsibility is to ensure the quality.

Regarding app development, the QA team conducts pre-release testing to establish the quality of the solution that is realized. It is necessary to determine if the product meets the specifications of its requirements.

What Is the Need for Designing a Product?

The importance of excellent product design keeps increasing with technology's constant and rapid evolution. Therefore, organizations trying to create an impressive digital outcome must focus on a sophisticated process beyond looks. This calls for knowledge and expertise in user research, psychology, business analysis, and software development.

Such understanding enables designers to promise a successful digital experience that meets the users’ expectations and helps achieve business goals.

Consequently, when users have a positive product experience, they recommend it and sometimes become advocates of the product itself. In today’s digital-driven world, users look for products that simplify their lives.

For instance, an app might have a great idea behind it, but if the overall experience is confusing, then it is useless. Similarly, the product design is not just the idea that meets the end-user’s wishes and expectations.

Evaluating the Product Design Development Process

Once you have started the product design process, it is time to evaluate the same by asking the following questions:

What Are the Advantages of My Product?

The answer requires an evaluation of the implemented functions in the product and how valuable these are for the target audience. Also, you should convey this value proposition easily to the consumers. For instance, the problems the product solves or what parameters one can use to measure the idea's success.

What Are the Disadvantages of My Product?

Looking at the disadvantages means finding out if there are some ways to improve the idea behind the product. It also accompanies studying what can be an obstacle to its successful promotion and what could be lacking in the product from the target audience's perspective.

What Are the Promotional Possibilities of My Product?

It is essential to determine how easy it will be to promote the new product in the market, its competitive advantages, and which channels would be most viable for the promotion. In the long run, the product's success is also considered.

Are There Any Possible Threats to a Successful Promotion?

Evaluating whether there would be any noticeable risks to the product's promotion is also necessary. You must try to identify the financial problems you can encounter if any competing products will be challenging to outperform, and so on.

Product Design Process Takeaway

So, the product design process is indispensable for business development, though it might seem challenging to start with one.

A professional approach combined with in-depth industry knowledge is necessary, from analysis to regular updates.

As product design is also a representation of the product, it has to strike perfection to be loved by the customers.

Outsourcing the services of some of the best product design agencies and digital design companies can help you.

We’ll find qualified product design agencies for your project, for free.
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