Product development is the first step in the lifecycle of a product. This process starts with an idea and ends with a product ready for sale. The development plan is not limited to the designing aspect only. It also covers research, prototyping, validating, and testing. Most products are developed for selling and require significant investment during the development phase. Products can be marketed online by using various marketing options, including an influencer marketing platform.
5 Steps of Product Development
1. The Ideation Stage
This is the first step of any product development process. At this stage, the product is only an idea in the mind of a person. Sketches, wireframe tools, and other options may be used to develop the idea. The person with the idea may decide to develop the product all alone or take the help of others. The idea for this product may have started after the person noticed a need for such an item. Some people also come up with the idea of a product that looks like no one needs but, in the end, sells a lot. Once the idea looks feasible, the person goes for the research to see if there is really a demand for it in the market.
2. The Research
Research may be needed at various stages of the product development process. An idea may look like a winner but it may fail in the market so it is necessary to research the market before making any investment in developing the product and launching it in the market. The initial research is conducted to see if there is demand for such a product. It can involve the use of behavioral analytics tools like WatchThemLive and a visitor tracking software/tool. This report also reveals how much demand there is for this kind of product, at what price it will sell in the market, and if the maker can earn sufficient profit by selling it. This research may not be necessary if it is an already established product category. In that case, research data showing how much demand the product has in the market may already be available.
3. Building a Prototype
Once the market research shows a demand for the new product, the entrepreneur can start developing and working on the project. Now is the time to build a prototype which will likely end up as the final design that goes to production. If it is a digital product, its major elements and structures are defined. The prototyping step involves lots of iterations. The product development team may have to try different ideas if the first idea does not solve the problem. Each feature or part of the product has its own development process. All these sub-processes are part of the main product development plan. The prototype is the final version of the product that can be validated before showing to the investors or sent directly to the factory floor for manufacturing. It is important for the product development team to just start somewhere and avoid wasting time trying to perfect every small thing. As the product starts taking shape, some problems can occur. It can become obvious that the idea requires some changes. The developer may realize the idea is unworkable and the project may be terminated. The development team comes up with various solutions to solve the problems that crop up while developing the product. The best solutions are selected. Once the product is ready, it is put through several tests.
4. Testing the Prototype
A prototype may be the final design that goes to the production line. Before sending it for manufacturing, it goes through several tests to validate its functions, features, and usability. The product must comply with various standards. For example, an electronic product must comply with electronic product standards. The product may be tested by the company’s testers or given to a few actual users for testing. Once all the tests have been conducted and the product is validated, it is ready to go for production.
5. Giving Finishing Touches
A prototype is used mainly to validate the main idea. Once the main functional aspects have been validated and proven, the development team can move to the next step, which involves making the product aesthetically pleasing. A product must also look good. It is especially true for products that enter a competitive market. If products of different brands have almost the same features, customers may choose the one that looks better. The development team may also decide to add some new small features or remove some at this stage.
Risks and Challenges
A product with some novelty may get initial traction, but soon, the target users may lose interest in it. There are all such risks and challenges that entrepreneurs face when developing, making, marketing, and selling their products. It is important that the product is tested by independent users who are ready to give frank opinions. Developing and selling a new product is risky. Even large corporations with all resources at their disposal often get something wrong, resulting in the failure of their new products. On the other hand, those who are able to get everything right can expect a successful product that can sell to millions and bring a high return on investments.
These are the main steps in the product development process. After these steps, the product enters the production phase. Once the final products are ready, they are launched and then sent to the stores for selling. The manufacturer has to invest in marketing and promoting the products to increase sales. The items may also be sold through online channels and in other ways. There are several things that product developers can do to make this process more efficient, quick, and successful. An idea may look highly appealing to the person who comes up with it, but in the real world, that concept may not have the expected value. In fact, it may even be rejected by the consumers and fail to sell. On the other hand, there have been many unusual products that looked useless initially but went on to sell for millions. There is no hard and fast rule, and only the final market launch can ultimately prove the viability of a product.