What is product design? What does the product design process entail? At what point should you enroll your design team? These questions always come up during any conversation about design.
Today, we answer those questions and offer insight into how successful product design profoundly impacts your business’s success.
What is product design?
The world of product design has evolved considerably over the years. And so too has the product design process. To a lot of people, design is simply how a product looks and feels. And while that is a component of product design, it is so much more than that. Product design encompasses everything from initial market research to the final, deliverable product.
Creating the visual side of a product comes much later in the design process than you might think. The steps leading up to finally putting pixels together begin much earlier in the product development cycle. As you’ll soon see, design is no longer a siloed activity that occurs at the end of the product development process.
Product Mindset vs. Project Mindset
Before we dive into what the product design process entails, let’s talk mindset. There are a couple of different schools of thought into which designers fall. One is product-focused, and the other is project-focused.
What does the product design process entail?
Despite common misconceptions, the product design process begins quite early in the product development cycle. Product teams who don’t enroll the design team early in the process often wish they had. Or at least their users do.
Product design is a fairly linear process. The following stages should ideally occur in the order shown here. However, all of these steps can also be iterative and should be based on what is known about the users.
A modern product design team should be way out in front, working with the product manager to figure out what the market fit looks like. Then, they’re involved with the product from there on out.
What is market fit?
Market fit plays a huge role in your product’s ultimate success. Before you spend the time and resources to release a product into the world, you first need to figure out into what corner of that world it fits. To determine this, begin by asking:
Is there a market for it?
What is the niche within that market where you can set yourself apart?
Is there a big enough problem that warrants a product, or a different take on an existing product that you already own?
Once you determine there is a market for a particular product, move on to foundational user research.