Product Design Process [Ultimate Guide in 2021]

5871 Updated 09.30.2021
Virliana Tymkiv

Design Team Lead at Northell

5/5

Table of contents

Launching a new product is equal to new business. When every business is competing for devoted customers, the product design process is critical for standing out. In today’s world, we live in a consumerist culture.

Product design has become more crucial than ever before as our society has grown increasingly globalized. While we still have a fundamental need for products and services, what we desire is a different story. 

To take advantage of our rampant consumerism, great product design takes advantage of both our needs and desires. The market is swamped with similar products and services, and the only thing that distinguishes one brand of a certain offering from another is the design. 

However, getting into the product designing process is risky. It requires serious planning and organization.

This guide will outline the key stages of the product design life cycle. Moreover, product design is the start of a new business way, and this guide will help make this star successful.

It will explain how a planned and phased product design process will help you make the most informed investment and budget decisions. We will also tell you how best to build your development team and manage your project.

Short bases: Product Design in 2021

Let’s start by defining what exactly product design is.

The product design process is the process of a product idea implementation. A good product design is one that best meets the customer’s goals. An excellent product designing process combines and satisfies both the business goals and the needs of its users.

The approach to product design is primarily focused on a target user and target market, after that – the introduction of innovations and constant “live” testing. Such a way will simplify the user interaction with the product. It will become a single solution that combines technological capabilities and business requirements. 

What do you need to have before starting Product Design? 

The process of developing a new product consists of a whole set of stages that explain how you would apply the steps in product design when developing this product. However, at the very beginning, an idea is the basis.

When it comes to designing a new product, there is a lot at stake. There are several factors to consider minimizing risk and allocating investment and resources wisely:

  • Will your new product meet the customer’s needs?
  • How workable is the product from a technical standpoint? Can you meet the design, resource, and production requirements?
  • Do you have a rational idea of what you hope to achieve with the new product? 

The following tips may also be helpful:

  • Consult with members of your team about your development plans; they may be able to suggest ideas you have missed;
  • Get feedback from suppliers and other business partners-their experience can be invaluable;
  • Test a large number of ideas at the beginning of a project.
  • Take into account the regulatory environment in which your new product or service will operate;
  • See the immediate potential of the new product or service, but think about the long term.
  • Think of a strategy for your product monetization.

Process of Product Design in 2021.

We have already figured out what product design is. The next concept that needs to be introduced is the product design process. This is exactly the path that the product goes from idea to implementation.

It consists of four steps:

  • Product discovery;
  • UX Design;
  • UI Design;
  • User testing.

 However, getting into the development process is risky. Now in 2021, it requires serious planning and organization because there is competition in every field, and the user expects high quality from the final product.

This guide will describe the key steps in product development. We will explain how a planned and staged development process will help you make the most informed decisions on each step.

What is included in the Product Design Process?

New product designing is the creation of an original product, product improvements and upgrades, and the creation of new product brands.

There are several key product design steps:

Product Discovery

  • Business, user, and discovery goals 
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • User interviews
  • Competitive analysis & SWOT analysis
  • Business model and lean canvas
  • Personas
  • User stories
  • Customer journey map

UX Design

  •  Information Architecture
  •  Prototyping
  •  Wireframe

UI Design

  • Design system
  • An accessible interface
  •  Usability and likeability.
  • Emotional design.
  • Adaptive (responsive) design

Usability Testing

  • In-depth interviewing of focus groups
  •  Northell UX Lab usability testing
  • UX Eye Tracking
  •  Assessment research
  • Usability reports

And in the following paragraphs, we will consider this information in more detail.

Product Design Process: Step-by-Step Practical Guide 2021

Launching new products can be a challenge. In addition, every product launch is different, and you should know how to design a product properly. There is no point in looking for a one-size-fits-all solution for every business and every product.

However, some things are necessary for a successful launch of each product. By following the 4 points for launching a new product in the list below, you will be on your way to increasing sales and promoting your product before you open it to the world.

#1 Product Design Process: Product discovery

The product discovery stage is a process of analyzing the market, defining your product-market fit, and gathering all the project requirements and goals.

We recommend not skipping this part of product design because this stage helps understand your customers better and roll out a product that will solve your customer’s problems. Product discovery will help you better organize a product development process and connect business goals with customers’ needs correctly.     

Business, user, and discovery goals 

Business analysis is the first part of the design process in any project. It is an activity aimed at identifying needs and recommending solutions that provide value to stakeholders. Then we study the market and users. Empathy is essential here. You need to feel the problems of the audience and find ways to solve them. 

After passing the analytical stage, we get the whole picture. This will help us set business goals that will be achieved through the product. And to realize them, the big goals are broken down into a lot of smaller ones and incorporated into the product design process. 

Stakeholder interviews

Stakeholders frequently have unique insights, expertise, and data regarding internal, backstage operations, as well as the users that engage with them.

Interviewing stakeholders adds another layer of information to the team’s understanding of the problem’s scope as well as the possibility of future solutions.

By interviewing essential members of the company, you can learn more about:

  • The organization’s, individuals’, or teams’ most important business goals (These are useful for determining if and how these broader goals relate to the project’s objectives.)
  • Data and insights on how user issues influence backstage work (such as inquiry type and volume, additional processing)
  • Solutions they have attempted before that worked or didn’t work, how they implemented them, what additional issues they generated, and why they were eliminated (if applicable)

Here are some of the questions we ask during stakeholder interviews:

  • What are your business goals?
  • What is your role in the company?
  • Who are the users of your future product?
  • Who are your main competitors?
  • Do you have any technological limitations?
  • What are your product concerns? 

User interviews

To build a useful product, you need to know your future customers. To do this, choose a target group that will likely use the product in the future and. Get to know them by conducting research (interviews, online research, surveys).

One of the most effective ways to get this information is to conduct qualitative interviews. You will have to ask open-ended questions to learn as much as possible about your future users.

  • First, find out what their problems are. (What are the three things you have the most trouble in this area? / What causes these problems?)
  • Find out what the current solutions are. (Detail the last concrete example of when the problem occurred / How did it happen / How are you currently dealing with the problem)

Competitive analysis & SWOT analysis

New ideas for development are built through the analysis of this, directly comparative and SWOT analysis.

SWOT analysis is the identification of strategic planning. Its main idea is to understand what strengths and weaknesses the product has. 

The result of the analysis should also become an understanding of what opportunities you have from external factors. It is connected with development and customer growth.

Moreover, identifying threats in the external environment is also included. It helps to warn yourself against interacting with them and preventing the emergence of new weaknesses in your product.

However, a comparative analysis will reveal opportunities for improvement or differentiation. It also points out areas of advantage.

By examining qualitative data (observations, discussion of trends, etc.) and specific numbers and statistics to support a qualitative assessment, the team can make recommendations to meet and ideally surpass the steps taken by competitors.

Business model and lean canvas

A business model canvas is a one-page description of the high-level strategic elements required to bring a product to market effectively. 

A canvas’s categories or buckets can be changed at any time. Most, though, will cover major areas such as:

  • The benefit – or value – of your product or service to the customer compared to what competitors can offer. Are customers willing to pay that price?
  • Suppose you are the first in the market. Is your product or service revolutionary, or are you following a market trend?
  • The sales channels you want to use, which will affect your advertising and distribution costs.
  • The speed at which you want to create your product or service.
  • The expected life cycle of your product or service.
  • Are you covering your costs?

Lean Canvas helps the product manager or product owner quickly describe their idea. However, it’s worth remembering that it’s not a definitive business plan.

The point of Lean Canvas is to put the first ideas on paper and start testing them, gradually improving them. This is the only way to create a product that will meet the real needs of the user.

Personas

Based on extensive audience research, a persona is a model that depicts your ideal customer. It’s a “fictional” profile that closely resembles a group of real users, allowing you to humanize the groupings that represent your ideal client.

They are validated based on the user interviews we wrote about above. The information collected during the user interviews stage is entered into the persona.

A persona is essential to the success of a product since it guides company development and improvement decisions. It simply helps in the comprehension of your customer and the many ways in which they search, choose, buy, and finally use your product. 

You may then make informed decisions about Product Positioning and Tone of Voice based on this information. Creating a persona helps in creating successful and focused messages that communicate directly to your target audience.

User stories

User stories define:

  • what is being developed,
  • why it’s being developed,
  • whom it’s being developed for,
  • and when it will be developed.

By explaining the desired outcome of a product feature, user stories remind everyone involved of the user’s goals. This enables you, the designer, to see a product’s usefulness and helps in the organization and prioritization of the way each function is developed.

Customer journey map

Creating a customer journey map is an excellent technique to discover what makes a viewer a committed and loyal customer. This approach helps you understand a customer.

And also allows us to see the customer’s journey from a first acquaintance with the product to permanent use. We can see all the nuances of usage, pros, and cons, and thus adjust the project to the user’s needs.

#2 Product Design Process: UX Design

UX is an integral part of product design and development. The application’s user experience is determined by how users interact with it. Is the user experience intuitive or confusing? Does the navigation in the application seem logical or not amenable to logic?

That is why the structure should simplify as much as possible the implementation of targeted actions. The user does (download files, makes a purchase, answers a poll, goes to another page, opens a bookmark) should also overlap with the product’s business goals.

Based on the analysis of the target audience’s actual or anticipated responses, a UX concept is created at the early stages of development.

 Information Architecture

Information architecture is the science of organizing information on websites and software applications to help users meet their information needs and make it easy to use. 

It is also the practice of formalizing the various outcomes of a site model, such as a tree structure, zoning, storyboarding, and navigation system. Indeed, it is a matter of defining the amount of content, the types of content and features displayed in the interfaces, and the user journey associated with them. The overall goal is to organize content and information in a broader sense. 

Here are some of the examples of effective Information Architecture:

  • Site mapping
  • Content inventory and audit
  • Information Architecture Diagram
  • Simple tree structure

At Northell, we are adhering to the idea of the uniqueness of each project, have formed an algorithm for the simple construction of information architecture:

  • We first list all the existing content on the site before we can organize it and then structure/prioritize it.
  • Then we structure and prioritize the mentioned content to allow the target user to find the information in a specific context.

Wireframing

The important step and one of the key ones is the development of a prototype wireframe. 

This helps to see how the user will interact with the interface visually.

There are two types of prototype wireframes:

  • Low fidelity prototypes are much faster to create and usually facilitate teamwork on a project. These can be sketches on paper or a whiteboard.
  • High-fidelity prototypes feature more relevant content, specific font variations and may contain more accurate information about image sizes and even button styles. In most projects, our team develops high-fidelity prototypes. At Northell, we use this particular type.  

At Northell, we have great experience in creating wireframes for our clients.

Racers360, a personalized online motor sports coaching project, came to us for a more user-friendly and attractive design for the web app.

Have an idea of the next great project?

Thanks to wireframes, we managed to provide our client with a new, bright and straightforward design that met the needs and preferences of the Racers360 target audience and clearly displayed all the important information.  

UX testing comes next after UX design. And after that, the models and the first beta versions of the future product are already created. Projects are built based on an analysis of the audience’s interaction with existing analogs because reviews, wishes, behavioral factors, and features of products (services) that are not identical to competitors are considered.

#3 Product Design Process: UI Design

UI design – graphical and functional implementation of the concept, all those ideas, and solutions that were approved at the UX analysis stage. The UI stage of product design cannot be called only visualization and drawing. For a successful implementation of the UI, the following rules should be followed:

  • all system elements are structured and interconnected;
  • architecture is followed, logically related elements are grouped;
  • maintained a single overall style;
  • focus on certain blocks or buttons (do not overload the appearance of content, distracting illustrations and buttons, there should be free space);
  • alignment of the interface components.

 Design system

A design system is a set of rules and tools for visual and technical execution that reflects the philosophy of a product and is constantly evolving. By using design systems, team time is saved.

But the biggest plus is a common approach to UX and UI design, which makes the product more accessible and understandable for customers. Besides, the uniform visual style of all projects increases the company’s recognition in the market and the quality bar for competitors.

  An accessible interface

A good product is available to all people to the same extent. This means that people with hearing impairments, vision loss, or mobility impairments must also be considered.

To create such products, designers take many factors into account – for example, the selection of colors that color-blind people see, the size of the text and the font that is larger for those with poor eyesight, and so on.

Usability and likeability.

In product design, usability refers to how easily a product interacts with visitors. And in order to create such a user-friendly interface, you need to adhere to the 5 main principles of website usability – accessibility, clarity, learnability, trust, relevance.

Emotional design.

The emotions the user experiences have the greatest impact on the overall product experience. This is why the design approach to creating products, which is called emotional design, aims to create a UI / UX that delivers a positive experience to users.

UX / UI designers use this design approach to design creative interfaces to generate a positive emotional response from users.

 Adaptive (responsive) design

Mobile device owners often use them to visit web products. To keep their path short and convenient, your product needs a responsive or adaptive design. Both types of design help customers and visitors navigate your product with ease.  

Responsive design resizes your product based on the device’s screen size, while adaptive design stays the same for each individual device. 

There is no single answer as to what kind of design is best for you since each case must be considered on its own. If you need advice on which design to choose for your product, contact us, and we will be happy to help you. 

#4 Product Design Process: User Testing

The testing step helps to bring the finished prototype to an ideal state. Here we can understand what is missing in the product or what is better to remove, and that is why we should ask ourselves the question “how to design a product properly?” during the entire testing phase.

  In-depth interviewing of focus groups

Focus groups can be used to conduct quality market research in terms of design competitiveness. Such groups are recruited from active users with a similar product and are polled.

Or, if you need the subjective opinion of each individual user, then you can conduct in-depth interviews. One way or another, the data obtained in the course of research will help make the product better and more competitive.

 Northell UX Lab usability testing and UX Eye Tracking  

A great example of user experience testing is our own development, the Northell UX Lab. The idea is that the user in our lab gets a prototype of the product. Special equipment for eye-tracking captures the user’s actions during the interaction with the product interface.

Then the system displays the information and it is possible to compare the data of real use and analytics. Based on this, changes will be made to the product to help improve the usability of the product.

Assessment research

Also, do not forget about the evaluation study. This is a set of models and techniques that allow you to assess – in social and economic terms – the final result or effect of product introduction on the market.

 It reduces the time it takes to get to the final product that is most likely to attract customers. From a marketing perspective, this process is also a good opportunity to build interest in your product.

Usability reports

To identify problem areas in the interface quickly, you can use usability reports. This process and the result of an expert assessment of an information system or its prototype for ease of use. In addition, this diagnostic approach can use the current state of the system and determine the potential direction for development.

Advice from our Design Team Lead.

And now to wrap up our guide, we would like to deliver important advice which are in the new service or product development process, the design stage is critical because of it.

Product design is not a linear process

Although we have shown through a very structured and linear design process, the reality is that you may find yourself jumping back and forth to learn more about the problem space.

There is no one size fits all

The product design process should transform to fit the project, not the other way around. The design process will depend on what stage of the product design lifecycle the feature or product is in.

In other words, if the product is in its early stages, you may want to spend more time on user research; whereas if it has been shipped, your priorities may lie in growing and optimizing your product.

It’s a never-ending process

Continuous improvement is at the core of what we do, so keep refining and improving your product! Once a product has shipped, never assume it’s finished. Keep getting feedback and refining your product as your users’ needs can change over time.

Product Design Process: Entrance to a new level, modern practices

You will always know where to go next by going through the cyclical process of data analysis, user feedback, and testing. New challenges emerge, and new features will be added to the product, and it may not fit into the product and process design principles solution manual.

The techniques listed above will help you work through any challenges properly, with more confidence and understanding.

 You have probably already tried many of these approaches such as involving different people to have a fresh perspective, seeing the path of their client, putting new technology into the process.

And if you haven’t – we highly recommend that you try them at least once. However, do not expect a revolution after the first attempt, and if you are in trouble, look at the root of the problem and only then find a solution.

At Northell team looks at every product as an opportunity to try out all these new ideas. And the more we work with it, the better results we get.

At Northell team looks at every product as an opportunity to try out all these new ideas.

We Are The Top 5 Product Designers in Ukraine.

Typical Mistakes in Product Design Process

The business world is not very friendly and no one is immune to failure. Product failure can be attributed to several factors even if you have a good product and process design principles solution manual:

  • The market may have been poorly priced or overpriced;
  • Market research was conducted on their own without the involvement of experts;
  • The product was poorly designed;
  • Focusing on only one, your own, idea and ignoring the ideas presented by the team;
  • The product was misplaced;
  • Poor customer analysis and lack of understanding of their needs;
  • Poor commercial communication;
  • The company was production-oriented rather than consumer-oriented;
  • Overspending;
  • The competition was poorly evaluated or was more aggressive than expected. 

Successful Examples Of Product Design Process

As a team of product designers, we received the “Top 20 Product Designer” award according to the Clutch version.  And the “Top 5 Product Designers” award according to The Manifest version.

We want to share our experience and show some product design and process selection are examples of our many years of experience.

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How Much Does  Product Design Cost in 2021?

 

  Freelance  Agency
North America  $50-100/hr  $75-150/hr
Western Europe  $40-80/hr  $50-120/hr
Eastern Europe  $25-50/hr  $30-70/hr
Asia <$30/hr   <$40/hr

Wrapping Up 

The most important thing to remember when designing products is that we end up creating a product that people can use. As a product design team, we tried to share with you all our experience in this product and process design principles solutions manual.

The products we create have the potential to change the way companies think, feel and behave. You can learn more about product design by contacting us directly with any questions you may have. 

Have an idea of the next great project?

We Are The Top 20 Product Designers & Developers on Clutch

How to make an existing product or design process better?

The key to making your project grow and become better is marketing testing and concept refinement.

This will help you make sure that your product or service can be changed according to feedback from the customer, manufacturer, and supporting organizations.

This means choosing the best time and best process for your new product or service.

What approach does it work for startups and small businesses?

New products and services must deliver value that meets the needs of your customers. You must find out these needs. Also in view of limited budget and limited possibilities, you must predict the pricing strategy for the new product or service.

And also keep in mind the competition and try to implement fresh ideas that will attract more and more audiences to your project.

How to check the quality of my product or product design process?

There are a number of generally accepted criteria by which you can assess the quality of the finished product design:
  • Does the design have a focal point?
  • Is the flow of attention directed?
  • Is the design balanced?
  • Do the fonts go together?
  • Is the text readable?
  • Are form and function balanced?
  • Is there a contrast?
  • Is the space being used correctly?
  • Is the design in the right mood?
  • Does the design match the brief?

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We are TOP 20 Product Designers & Developers on Clutch.

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