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The Product Development Lifecycle

Every new product or object follows a set of stages from the initial concept to a full scale release. This is known as the Product Development cycle, having namely five stages: brainstorm, define, design, test and launch. Each stage involves contribution and teamwork of people from different fields.

As a product proceeds in the cycle

the team may spend longer working in one stage than in others, or repeat certain stages following user feedback.

The success of each stage depends on completion of the prior stage, so it’s vital to do them in order. 

Check out each of the five stages of the product development life cycle!


Brainstorm Phase

The first stage of the cycle is brainstorm stage, where a team begins thinking of ideas regarding the product. The user requirement maybe known by the team,

or a list to define the problem statement regarding the needs of the user is made.

Idea generation could also start with a hyper-local issues.

For example, a lack of convenient storage in a product, and it can branch out from there. No matter what, you need to start by identifying a authentic customer need. 

The diversity in a team also plays an important role across identifiers like race, gender, abilities, ethnicity , age and family structure as brainstorming becomes more effective bringing more experiences together

For example: You’re designing a new app to help working parents and guardians.

your team might start the brainstorming stage by listing common problems that working parents and guardians face :

a lack of reliable child or pet care, transportation concerns, or trouble managing schedules.

Your team might analyze user feedback about similar products or the results of surveys to help guide ideas. After you’ve brainstormed lots of user problems, your team chooses one and starts ideating solutions to that problem. 

It is an ideal phase to look into competitor products, see if similar products have been made available to the users. A complete user and competitor research determines problems determine accurate solutions.

Define Phase

Define Phase

Second stage brings together designers, researchers, product managers and leads to define the product. The aim is to deduce the specifications for the product by answering questions like: Who is the product for? What will the product do? what features need to be included? 

In the course of the define phase, your team narrows the focus of your idea. Referring to the example above, for an app to help working parents and guardians, your idea should focus on helping parents and guardians find reliable child or pet care or manage their schedules, not both. In this stage, a designer might help the team pin down the focus of the idea, but a product lead will most likely be the one to define the scope of the project. 

The research done in the brainstorm phase is finds its use in this phase, filtered through an objective screening process. Ideally, you’ll use a combination of internal and external processes to get the most actionable data from this phase. You’ll gauge your target customers’ response and secure product validation.

Design Phase

Design Phase

The third stage of the product development life cycle is design. At this stage, UX designers develop the ideas for the product, by drawing wireframes, which are outlines of the product, then move on to creating prototypes conveying product functionality.

UX writers in the design, do tasks like write button labels or other copy within the product’s wireframes and prototypes. Assess the costs of designing, manufacturing, packaging, and distributing your leading product concept. You may plan to use third-party vendors or create internal systems where possible.

In this phase, UX designers ensure including all the product specifications outlined in the define stage. You might also check to ascertain that each part of the design fits together like clockwork. For example, UX designers might check that the app flow in a way that user can understand. Or that each interaction, like tapping a button, has a correlating action. On the other hand, with a physical product, UX designers might check that one piece of a physical object matches up to the connecting piece. Finally, UX designers also make sure that each task a user needs to complete is clear, like navigating from the homepage to the checkout confirmation page in an app.

Testing Phase

Next, your designs go into the test stage. UX designers and Engineers work together to develop functional prototypes coinciding with the original designs, including details and features that suit the company’s brand, like font and color choices. This also means writing the code and finalizing the overall structure of the product. 

Another option is to test a functioning prototype of the product, using a design tools like Figma or Adobe XD

At this stage, the products go through at least three phases of testing: internal tests within your team, reviews with stakeholders, and external tests with potential users.

Running these tests is typically the responsibility of the UX researcher on your team, if you have one. 

  1. The team tests the product internally to look for glitches and usability problems, often referred to as alpha testing.
  2. Then, the design undergoes a test with stakeholders to make sure the product and the team vision align, legal guidelines for accessibility are met, and regulations for privacy are followed.
  3. Finally, there’s an external test with potential users. This is the time to figure out whether the product provides a good user experience, it’s usable, equitable, enjoyable, and useful. This is also called as beta testing.

Collecting and implementing feedback at this stage is critical. If users find the product confusing or frustrating, UX designers make modifications or even create new versions of the design. Then, the designs are tested again, until the user is comfortable with the product.

It’s important to call out that the product development life cycle isn’t a completely linear process. Your team might cycle between designing and testing a few times before you’re ready to launch the product!

Launch Phase

One of the most important stages of the product development life cycle, this is where you release the product to all of your customers. The goal is to make the release experience as seamless as possible in order to boost initial engagement.

The launch stage is a time to celebrate your work and start promoting the product. Marketing professionals on your team might post about the new product on social media or publish a press release. The customer support team might get ready to help new users learn how the product works. 

Program managers meet the cross-functional team to discuss the entire development life cycle and ask questions like:

What worked and what could be improved?

Were goals achieved?

Were timelines met?

Making time for this reflection is crucial, since it can help improve the process going forward. 

Thousands of new products go on sale every year, and manufacturers invest a lot of time, effort and money in trying to make sure that any new products they launch will be a success. Creating a profitable product isn’t just about getting each of the stages of new product development right, it’s also about managing the product once it’s been launched and then throughout its lifetime.

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