Product Development

How to Design a Product: A Step-by-Step Guide

What is product design?

Product design is the entire process of creating usable products and experiences, starting by defining real people’s problems and thinking about possible solutions. That will eventually lead to the best design.

How do you start the product design process?

You have a great idea for a new business product, but now you’re wondering how to translate the idea you have into a physical product you can touch. A guiding principle to follow is to always remember how you are solving your customers’ problems. You may have multiple solutions for these problems, but having a clearly defined idea is key.

You can imagine in your mind how it will work and how cool it will be when it's done. You can see in your mind how each of the pieces work together and how much easier it makes your life. But putting that into words is a little challenging. It’s time to create a prototype. A prototype is a working or non-working representation of your end product based on factors like the problem to be solved, the needs of the end customer, investor/industry requirements, research, trends and much more. Your job is to create something physical that resembles the picture in your mind, it can be an advanced fully functional model or a simple drawing on a napkin.

Using your protype, the next step in the design process is to get customer feedback. Create a customer survey to get the right information. You should evaluate your customer responses to improve your design until you are ready to finalize your product.

In short, to design the best product possible you should follow these 4 crucial steps!
  1. Design a product that solves your customer’s problems

  2. Create a prototype

  3. Interview your customers and gather information using a customer survey

  4. Improve and finalize your design

Congratulations, you’re now ready to begin thinking about how you’ll make, or manufacture, your product!

How do you create a prototype and improve your product?

You don’t have to have the perfect offering right off the bat. You will most likely go through lots of iterations and versions of your product or service before you decide it is good enough to be sold. Aim to get to a protype, or sample product, early so that you can make your first sales.

  • Version 1: Create something easy to show your idea, like a description, sketch, photo, website, etc. to share with potential customers. Get their feedback so you can make fast changes.

    This is your “representational”, non-working, prototype.

  • Version 2: Create a sample of your product or service to share with potential customers to get their feedback on improvements or further changes that need to be made.

    This is your second, more advanced, prototype. Ideally, this should be a working model which is actually functional, so people can get their hands on it and try it out. This is a great opportunity to get the wrinkles ironed out before presenting the prototype to your customers. But sometimes it isn’t possible to have a working model, in such cases another kind of prototypes is used which best suits the situation.

  • Version 3+: Improve your sample until you’re satisfied it is something that your customers will buy. Start with your first set of potential customers and ask them to spread the word.

    This can be a much much advance prototype or the product itself.

Why is product design important?

Great product design satisfies customers by meeting their actual needs or expectation. Doing this right will enhance the competitiveness of your business and boost your chances at being successful.

Pro Tip

Make sure you remember to include product design in your budget and timetable. Great product design can be costly upfront, but it can save you a lot in the long run!