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5 Simple Steps to a Successful Digital Product Design Process

how to create a successful digital product

You see, the business world is a tough place. There are plenty of great ideas out there, but not all of them see the light of day. You don’t want your product to end up among the most successful technology failures of all time after putting in all your time and resources, especially in Africa, where tech talents are rarely appreciated. It's not enough to have an idea; you need to know how to execute it properly. And surely, we have exactly what you need to bring your design idea alive without costing you a penny.


Having a strong product design process should top your list. It provides a clear path for you to follow, outlining the steps you need to take to turn your concept into a meaningful and successful product. On the bright side, many digital products are still standing after a decade because they followed simple design steps.

But what exactly does a product design process entail? Well, let’s talk about that.


Understanding a Design Process


The product design process refers to the various stages a team goes through to create and launch a product. This involves identifying a market need, finding ways to meet it, and coming up with a practical solution that solves users’ problems.


It's a series of steps that take you from idea to launch. It involves everything from researching your target audience and understanding their needs to developing a prototype and testing it with real users.


By following a well-defined product design process, you can ensure that you're not missing any crucial steps, and that you're staying on track towards your goal - creating a product that meets the needs of your users and your business.

There is no universal approach to the product design process, but Brave Achievers suggest following these five steps.


The 5 steps for Design Process


Every process begins with a goal in mind. Let’s start with what your design goal should be about.

1. Define your Product Goal

Defining the goal of your product is the first step towards creating a successful product design. It is a strategic tool and a necessary part of the process that gives everyone a clear idea of their roles. By sharing a product vision at the beginning of the process, everyone involved can have a glimpse of what success should look like.

To begin, you need to define your vision in a clear and precise manner. Start by identifying what you want to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, why it is important, and who your target audience is.

4 ways to define your product
4 ways to define your product

The WHAT: Your product vision should not be vague, such as "an app" or "the best website in the business". Instead, it should be specific and attainable, such as "a website that helps customers stream their favorite music."


The HOW: When determining how you will achieve your vision, think big but ensure that your goal is within your reach. The most successful product visions are ambitious but not unattainable. Consider the time required, resources you have or need, and who needs to work on the project.


The WHY: It is important that everyone involved in the project understands why the product goal is important. Purpose is a powerful motivator and unifier. Whether you are entering a new market or filling a gap in an existing one, the "why" is closely linked to your core audience.


The WHO: Lastly, keep your end-users in mind when defining your product goal. Your product needs to be focused on the consumer and should offer them value. Even internal changes should be valuable to your customers, clients, or users, by offering more efficient services or more secure processes. Your consumers should always be at the forefront of your vision.


2. Conduct Product Research

Product research is a crucial step in the process of designing a successful product. This involves gathering data to determine how well your product fits into the market and what users think about it. There are different methods for conducting product research, including surveys, interviews, and field studies.


Surveys are also important in gaining feedback from users and can be deployed at any stage of product development. It is important to ask the right questions in order to gather useful information. Open-ended questions that do not limit user responses tend to be more effective than binary questions.  


Interviews are a quick and effective way to collect data from users. Face-to-face interviews tend to provide more useful information as they allow for greater context, such as a person's body language. 

Field studies involve observing users as they engage with your product or similar tasks to identify their frustrations and areas for improvement. This information can be used to refine and improve the final product.


Brave Achievers explains more on the key principles of user research in product design


3. Start your Design

This is a really exciting part of creating a product, because it's where you get to turn your ideas into something tangible that people can use and enjoy. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your product:


  • Start with a clear idea of what you want to create: This could be a physical object, a software program, or anything else. As we explained earlier, make sure you have a solid understanding of what your product is supposed to do and how it will benefit your users.


  • Once again, think about your target audience: Who is your product for? What do they need and want? How can you design your product to meet their needs and exceed their expectations? It's important to keep your users in mind throughout the design process.


  • Create design specifications: This is a document that outlines all the details of your product design. It should include things like the project overview, target audience, user needs, and any specific features or aesthetics you want to include. Read more about how to create design specifications


  • Use wireframing to bring your vision to life: Wireframing is a way to create a rough draft of your product design. It doesn't need to be perfect, but it should give you a clear idea of what's working and what needs to be improved. As you refine your ideas, you can gradually increase fidelity until you have a final product.


  • Don't forget about prototyping: Prototyping is a way to test out your product design in the real world. You can create a prototype of your product and see how it performs with real users. This can help you identify any issues or areas for improvement before you launch your product.

wireframe vs. prototype
wireframe vs. prototype

Alt text: wireframe vs. prototype

Wireframes are like sketches that show the basic structure and layout, while prototypes are interactive models that let you experience how the product will work. Wireframes are used in the early stages of design to plan and organize, while prototypes are created later to test and refine the user experience.


So, there you have it, designing your product is all about taking your ideas and turning them into something that people can use and enjoy. Brave Achievers believe you should learn before you start, this is why we have made it easy for you to learn about the nitty-gritty of product design for no cost. Check out YouCreate Africa.


4. Test and Iterate

Once you have a high-fidelity prototype of your product, it's time to test and iterate it. This is where you get your first impressions from users and see how they feel about your product. User testing and validation are crucial moments in the product design process.


One way to test your product is by conducting usability tests. You can do this in various ways, such as bringing in specific target audience users into a controlled environment, known as "lab testing," or testing with a large, random cross-section of the market, called "guerilla testing." You can also do remote usability tests like phone interviews. Generally, aim to include five users during any standard test, which research suggests is enough to catch up to 85% of issues.


The usability test should focus on five aspects: 

  • Can your users easily learn how to use the product?

  • Did they use it quickly and efficiently? 

  • Do they remember how to use it when they return to it?

  • Did you identify any bugs and errors that need to be resolved? 

  • Did your product provide a satisfying experience?


Session recordings are also important during the testing phase, whether it's done remotely or face-to-face. They provide great insight into how users interact with your project, allowing you to make necessary improvements to the user experience.


It's crucial to respond to feedback during the testing phase, as this will determine the success of your end product. It's tempting to focus only on the positive feedback and ignore the negative, but it's essential to address all feedback, as these are the people who will ultimately use your product.


5. Product Optimization and Post-Launch


After you launch your product, the design process doesn't end. In fact, it's just the beginning. This is your chance to improve the user experience and continuously enhance your product.


To do this, there are three key steps to take:


  • Understand how users interact with your product: Once your product is live, you can see if users are using it as intended. Compare your expectations with real-world results to identify areas for improvement. Make sure you have a clear idea of what success looks like and how you will measure it.

Expectation vs. Reality
Expectation vs. Reality

 

  • Collect user feedback: Analytics can provide valuable insights, but direct feedback from users is just as important. Develop a feedback strategy to find out what users think and how you can improve their experience. Consider using email questionnaires, surveys within the product, and quick interviews to gather feedback.

  • Test new designs: The design process is ongoing, and you should always be looking for ways to improve. Use A/B testing to try out different designs and see which ones work best. This could involve small changes like button colors or bigger changes like page layouts. Use what you learn to inform future design and development efforts.


By following these steps, you can continuously improve your product and create a better experience for your users.


Takeaway


Creating products that cater to users' needs is challenging, and it can be nearly impossible without a proper digital product design process. Our design process acts as a guide, making sure that your decisions are well considered and justified. It also helps ensure that you have the right team members and that everyone is working towards the same goal.


So, what are you waiting for? Don't let your ideas go to waste. Take the time to develop a strong product design process, and you'll be well on your way to turning that dream into a reality. And if you want to know more about this, we have an opportunity for you to learn. 


Brave Achievers is offering you a platform to turn that idea into reality and also a head start in your tech journey. We believe that we can help you develop proficient skills to succeed in the tech industry. The YouCreate Africa Bootcamp is a fully funded practical training program that will equip you with the mindset growth and technical skills you need to start your career. Free to reach out to us!

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