How do you take a product concept into production? In the next few minutes, you'll learn how to transform a product idea into marketable merchandise with our 9-step app development process.
Creating successful products that produce desirable results doesn't happen in a vacuum. It takes a lot of effort and time. When you watch a ballerina, musician or orchestra, you get so carried away with their performance that you forget the many painful hours they spent practicing.
Many moving pieces need to be in place for the product lifecycle to succeed. And while successful products can be expensive to launch, it's even more costly to launch unsuccessful products. That's why we use the following product development process.
The App Development Process Blueprint
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the development process, it's worth noting that although it's a sequential process, the reality is often very different.
There'll be a lot of back and forth on each step of the process, but once you follow them, you'll be well on your way to a successful product launch.
1. Identify the Problem / Concept Screening
The first step is to understand the idea, concept, or problem by defining it. Most of the time, you won't be able to narrow down the source of the concept. The idea can come from an aha-moment, taking a shower, chatting with a friend, your observations, etc.
But sometimes, it starts with a specific problem. For example, a current customer could come to your business with an issue that doesn't already have a solution in place. Or, a solution already exists, but it has kinks that customers have already accepted, working around it.
In such a situation, there are two questions you need to answer.
- Is your customer motivated enough to get a solution to the problem
- Are they willing to pay more for a solution?
If the answer to both is yes, that's more than enough to kick off the next phase.
2. Define Your Product
A general rule of product development is that the product should be new and add value to what's currently selling. So once you decide on a product's direction, it's time for the brief.
The brief should highlight your thoughts, and while it's a team effort, one of you needs to make the final decision. The brief should define what the product is or isn't, whether through pictures, sketches, or words, as long as it's crystal clear to everyone involved in the product development.
But how do you know you are on the right track? Talk to your customers, look at your competition, talk to resellers, etc.
It's the only way to get accurate information for your brainstorming sessions, find out how to differentiate yourself in the market and figure out what kind of value you can offer. More importantly, it would be best to be careful that your solution doesn't create other problems.
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3. Market Validation Research
At this point, all you have is a hypothesis, and the research phase is all about testing how accurate your assumptions and ideas are from the brief you just came up with. That means you need to gather as many data points as possible using various techniques.
That could include buying a similar or competitor's product, field research, surveying your current audience, interviewing experts, focus groups, internal data from the sales team, etc.
Now, depending on the type of product you're creating, it might be enough to rely on the information from casual conversations or formal data. Either way, update your brief depending on what you learn.
The data you collect will help you gauge the demand and competition and figure out the pain points for your marketing message.
4. Planning / Scoping
The product development process can quickly get complicated and expensive, especially if you don't spend enough time in the planning phase.
While a fully-fledged traditional business plan isn't necessary, don't forget to consider the economic implication of creating and marketing the product. That means paying attention to details like budget, pricing, branding, resources, dependencies, etc.
If you need help during this stage of product development, then you should consider engaging an agency. A great agency will not only help you develop the product but will also assist you understand the market fit.
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5. Design & Development
The next thing to do is to create a sketch or design. It should provide as much detail as possible, and even though it doesn't have to include every potential component, it should be enough to create your prototype. That said, it's important you pay attention to UX/UI design.
That means getting a clear understanding of the technical constraints, the needs of your customers, and that of the end-user.
It's time to create the first edition of the product you've been developing. It can be a simple digital mock-up of a digital or physical product. Your product should be starting to take shape, and you should have a beta sample that can go into production.
While it's doubtful that you'll get a finished product on your first try, by continuously testing, you'll be able to iron out any kinks until you get to the final version. You can use it to test usability, showcase investors or use it in your marketing material.
An experienced agency will not only help with customer research but also analyze findings, offer market insights and analyze your competition.
To develop a successful prototype, it's vital to have everyone involved i.e. project managers, developers, designers, etc. to be on the same page for a successful launch.
After creating a prototype, the next step is to take it through rigorous testing. The goal is to ensure that it works as designed. The steps that come after testing will require a ton of resources i.e. time and money.
That's why it's so crucial to catch and nip any problems that arise in this phase in the bud because it'll save you both money and time in the long run.
Testing is done throughout every step of the product development process, not just for quality assurance purposes, but so the final product version solves the end user's problem reliably.
8. Go To Market
The product development process is only one-half of the product life cycle. The other half is product marketing. That means getting the products into the hands of your audience.
Although selling and marketing a new product is challenging, it's not impossible once you get your messaging right and have a great marketing and pricing strategy. Here, empathy can potentially play a significant role in helping connect you with your audience in a way that has a huge impact.
9. Product Maintenance
After a product goes into total production and has several users, it needs to be maintained.
Depending on the product type, some issues could arise even years after the product has already been brought to market. That's why an adequately developed product will typically get updates that will either add new features or fix issues.
Most products typically go through the above 9-step product development process. While the entire process is sequential, you'll sometimes need to circle back to some stages when you gather new information.
If you follow the steps above, then you should be that much closer to developing a successful product. But if you want to stand out in a crowded, competitive marketplace, then don't hesitate to contact us. Let us do the heavy-lifting, so you can focus on doing what you do best.