What is Product Design?
Product design is the process of inventing and developing products that solve our users' problems or specific market needs. Simultaneously, it informs the company that the product achieves the desired outcome.
The key to successful product design is understanding the end customer. Designers attempt to solve real-world problems by leveraging the empathy, behavior, frustrations, needs, and desire of their potential customers.
What exactly is this product? It can be anything from a tangible thing (chair, car, etc.) to digital goods (app, website, etc.). It is something you can own, rent, borrow, and use repeatedly and whenever you need it.
What is the product design process?
Before you even start, you should ask yourself WHY you are developing the product. It is important to have a defined outcome that you want to achieve to avoid catastrophic scenarios such as your end product not meeting the needs of the users and not adding value to the business. Therefore, defining all the requirements and the target group is a good idea.
If you have a goal in mind, you can begin the design process.
To summarize, product design begins with identifying a market opportunity and defining a problem that people may encounter repeatedly. It then proposes a solution to the given problem, which you will test with real users. We divide this process into five stages based on the design thinking methodology used worldwide.
Empathize – understanding the needs of your users
The first stage of the process involves user-oriented research. You conduct user research, such as in-depth interviews, online surveys, market research, and so on, to gain a good understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This allows you to put your assumptions aside and gain insight into the needs of your users.
Define – state your users' needs and problems
In this phase, you gather the findings from your users from Phase 1, analyze and synthesize them to identify the main problems and needs of your users. Then you proceed to the problem definition. This will give you a better understanding of the goal of your product. You often start with the phrase: "How could we…" For example: "How could we encourage people working from home to exercise more?"
Ideate – generate ideas to solve a problem
Ideation is the third stage. This is the place for out-of-the-box thinking. You try to come up with as many ideas as possible that would be a unique solution for your users. Following that, you need to select the ones that best solve your users' problems, are feasible, and provide business value. For this, you can use Product Discovery and the userUP application created by us (which, by the way, you can utilize right from the first and second phases).
Prototype – time to create solutions
This is where the more "creative" part comes in when you propose a concrete solution. Mostly you draw a simple wireframe. You can use a variety of programs, such as Figma, Adobe XD, and Sketch. And you discover whether your ideas make sense. The end result could be a simple click-through prototype that is ready for the final stage.
Test – Validate your solutions
Now it's time to test whether what you created throughout the process is truly beneficial to the user and solves their problem or need. It is common to discover a large number of flaws during testing, which is fantastic! It will allow you to design a product that end users will adore.
As I mentioned in the last stage, Design thinking is not linear – so you don't go from the first stage to the last. On the contrary, you frequently return to different phases as needed or solve multiple phases simultaneously. And you should do this even after your product is already on the market, to keep it innovative as you learn how real users think, feel, and behave.
After you have designed and tested your product, you can move on to development, which is usually the simplest form of the product that provides value to the user. The so-called MVP, or minimum viable product, is the simplest version of a new product that the team will use to gather the most amount of verified knowledge about customers while using the least amount of energy and resources. This is how startups usually start.
The final step is to release your product into the world. You should observe how it is doing. Some key metrics you should track include adoption, activation, abandonment, exit, and retention rates. For this, you can use Google Analytics 4 and Smartlook. A/B testing is another important form of testing that will again tell you what users like.
When designing a product, keep in mind that you are creating a product that people will actually use. As a product designer, you play an important role in shaping our future, and your products have the power to change how society thinks, feels, and behaves.