There is a common misconception that product is designed to provide value to users. Although this is of paramount importance, it’s not the only objective of product design. A good product design is one that adds value to the user and to the stakeholders of the product, alike. The “why” of the solution is largely dependent on the solution provider, and this factor cannot be ignored during the design process. In other words, a good product design is one that is coherent with the vision of the company or individuals. Design helps to stay true to the key objectives of the plan or purpose.
Now, let us look at how design brings value at each stage of the product development process.
Ideation and user research
Good design helps to precisely define the problem statement. It helps with setting the hypothesis, which is then validated through the process of user research. The right method or a combination of research methods is chosen depending on the context. Based on the data collected, a number of artefacts may be collated. Designing these steps well results in getting good insights.
Before building a full-blown product, a prototype or an MVP may be developed and tested for usability. The user experience may be designed through information architecture diagrams, interaction diagrams and finally visual designs. A designer may use sketches, wireframes and mockups to visualize the product. For hardware products, circuit designs and CAD diagrams may be used for the same purpose.
Design is a huge part of product development. It is an integral part of every step, right from creating the system architecture to drafting the test plan. A well-designed system is fast, reliable, secure, scalable, robust and reusable. A well-designed development process can help teams to develop and deliver high quality code in the most time-efficient manner.
Usability testing and Analytics
Measuring the usage data is a critical part of the build-measure-learn cycle. By choosing the right method and by tracking the right metrics, lessons can be learnt about what is working and what is not working. This helps greatly in improving the value-delivery of the product.
Support and updates
Sometimes, the users’ experience may not meet their expectations about the product. Users may stop using the product or return it for a refund, without even trying to contact the customer care. A feedback channel that is well-designed can drastically bring down the number of negative reviews and increase trust in the product. For instance, the app that I am managing currently at Riot Solution has a feedback form which has completely stopped users from leaving negative reviews on Amazon.
Updating software or firmware can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience, especially if it requires constant supervision from users. A seamless experience can improve usability and acceptance by the user.
Incorporating features which can lead to growth in activation, engagement, and ultimately revenue is crucial for the growth of the product. In the current scenario, important marketing strategies are included as part of the product experience. Eg. referral programs, cash back offers, etc.
Product management workflow
Setting up a workflow that seamlessly joins each of the above stages is also part of design. A good workflow greatly reduces gaps between each of the above stages and helps in better product planning.
To summarize, every step in the product development process needs to be well thought through. Even a small thing such as displaying the right text in a push notification can completely alter the experience. It can transform a user from hating a product to totally loving it.
I would like to conclude by saying the following.
Design is not part of a product; it IS the product.