Innovating and bringing new products and services to market is crucial for businesses in highly competitive environments. However, the process of transforming a vision and concept into a successful, live product can sometimes get the better of many product innovators.
Building a successful product involves so much more than defining features and functionality; it’s a multi-stage process that includes identifying a need or gap in the market, researching the competitive landscape, conceptualising a solution, developing a product roadmap, and building a minimum viable product (MVP). All of this requires different skillsets and expertise.
Product managers are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a product, typically driving the product development process from a strategic standpoint. But the product development process isn’t strictly a product management function. Successful product development requires work and input from cross-functional teams across development, design, testing, marketing, sales and finance.
Just like a recipe, successful product development needs the right mix of ingredients at the right time. We spoke to Dimana Grigorova, Xoomworks Technology’s UX/UI Practice Lead, who shared her top three recommended practices for successful product development:
1. Take a customer-obsessive approach
In new product development, there is often an over-focus on the product idea and the development of features and functionality. It’s not the best route to creating a winning product that people want and are willing to pay for. While the idea itself and the development of the product are both important, focusing primarily on these two aspects alone isn’t going to deliver the kind of product customers love to use. Great products start with user needs and frustrations in mind and how the product will address them.
Being customer-obsessive is how innovators build products their customers truly value. Customers need to play an essential role at every stage of the process: from idea validation and product requirement definition to features, UX and testing – every step – from start to finish – needs to revolve around the customer.
2. Don’t innovate in a vacuum
Innovators often come up with an idea for a product or service and strongly believe it’s the best solution that everyone will want. But it’s easy to make the wrong decisions when you’re making them in a vacuum.
Market research is critical when bringing a new product to market, sometimes overlooked at the expense of product development. It needs to start as early as possible, testing the viability of the idea with potential customers before jumping into product development.
Guerilla research is a relatively quick and low-cost approach to testing the viability of an idea. Take, for example, an app designed to make parents’ lives easier. You would send a team out to talk to parents at the school gate, explain the idea to them, and ask them if they thought it would make their lives easier and if it is something they would be willing to pay for.
Market research doesn’t start and finish at the beginning of the product development process; it should be ongoing throughout the entire process and continue after launch. As you progress through the process, product owners will be able to gather better market feedback, and the further along they are, the easier and more accurate the research becomes.
3. Do user testing to validate your concept as early as possible in the process
Once you’ve established the viability of your idea, you can build a prototype or wireframe that you can start to test with potential users. User testing allows you to put real concepts in front of real users to see how well they are received and work. It’s a widely used way to identify friction in UX design and address any issues before building and launching the product.
From there, you’d move into product development and deliver a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP will enable you to test the product actually works and is performing well. The goal should be to deliver an MVP at the lowest possible cost – and use it to get feedback. It may sound counter-intuitive to business, but when you first take a new tech product to market, the primary goal isn’t to make a profit; it’s to get feedback from users and establish if you’re targeting the right user and delivering what they need. Without this, you are wasting a lot of time and money on building something that nobody wants.
Choosing the right product development partner makes the difference
Product innovation has to be agile to be effective. Delivering innovation requires different expertise or technology, but it can also benefit from an alternative way of thinking.
Finding the right strategic tech partner can make all the difference when bringing a new tech product to market. It makes good business sense to select the right partner, whether seeking support at the ideation phase or engaging a team to deliver across the entire product development process.
The most successful partnerships will involve a truly collaborative partner that understands the end-to-end product development process, has a flexible approach and can take an idea to the next stage and beyond – so you achieve your product objectives. They should be ready to accelerate your innovation, ensuring they meet scope, timeline and defined milestones alongside budget and quality expectations.
Ultimately, they need to understand that speed, agility, performance and critically user experience are the differentiators that can make or break your product launch.
To understand the Xoomworks approach to helping businesses take great products to market quickly, securely – and with confidence, get in touch with us.