Product development is one of the more challenging aspects of running a business. Almost everyone is familiar with the basic process to take a product to market – design, make, and sell (then repeat). Research suggests that following a clear, structured new product development process, it’s probably not a bad idea. The whole process can be split up into the following steps:
- Generation of ideas: Look for the problems that demand solutions. Come up with ideas that fit your customer’s needs. Initially you would need many ideas to come up with the one that doesn’t hit the ceiling. Make sure that the product has profit potential. This is done by addressing things like the size of the target market, expected market growth, as well as the needs of the ideal customer.
- Prototyping: For the prototyping phase, you want to build something quickly that is just good enough to get user feedback.
- If you’re looking to patent your product, file a provisional patent application for “Patent Pending” status before showing it to anyone.
- User feedback is one of the most important stages of the IDEO process. This is where you bring that prototype — cardboard or otherwise — to your potential customers and ask them what they think of it. If your test group asks to pre-order your product now, then you know that you have something.
- Iteration: For the iteration stage, take your user feedback and use it to make changes to your prototype. Bring each iteration back to the users for more feedback in a short but essential loop of prototyping and user feedback. Create a functional prototype.
- Validate the Design: Using the functional prototype, test how customers will use the product. It may seem repetitive to validate with the customer again, but it’s common to hear many “wants” when pitching a concept to your test group. Elaborate on the design, taking into account the manufacturing processes your supplier will use to build parts for your product. Focus on minimizing cost and maximizing quality.
- Market and sell: The product is introduced to the market during this phase. This is where the marketing campaign and the sales funnel associated with it start really coming together.