A Thorough Guide: Product Design
7 March 2023
The Design Thinking Process
The product design process, entails several aspects like:
The first stage starts with empathizing, where the designers get to the core of the problem and solving it is their primary goal. In this crucial stage, the designers empathizing with customers’ concerns by placing themselves in their shoes. Which generates human touch into the human interaction part of the process. It is also the step that helps designers shed their biases, lest they manifest themselves in the product design.
In this stage, the designers formulate a problem statement from the knowledge and perspective they have already gleaned.
As the designer moves from collecting knowledge to the action (physical aspect), solid design ideas are generated by brainstorming with the team as part of the design guideline. Before deciding what is best for the customer, several concepts and features are considered.
Here, the designer and the team start coming up with different versions of the product. They experiment with designs that still have not taken concrete shape yet. Where are various options are available to improve, re-design, re-implement and re-introduce the prototype, or even you can drop the project altogether to start again. In this step, the design team gets a closer view of the initial challenges and constraints faced in the design and focuses on overcoming them all.
It involves checking and rechecking the solutions created based on customers’ points of view. Designers may have to go back and review the design from the first stage to rule out faults and errors in the process, and the release only happens if the product only if they feel the testing process is complete.
And now… The Product Design Process
- Pre-design process
The first step in the product design process happens even before an actual product design begins. As a result, this gives the systemic foundation or structural frame to the step-by-step design development process that occurs over a period.
The designer first must establish a product strategy based on the customers’ pain points and how the product design can help resolve the issues. The product design strategy gives direction to the issues and guides the designer on which path to take and how to reach the goal. The product design team must handle all the challenges that crop up and avoid any problems.
Then the group preparing a value proposition map, which focuses more on the end product, and how it works for the target audience. Because they are designing with the customer in mind, the design team constantly asks who the product is for when used by the customer.
- Product research
The process of product design starts bearing fruit. Although, the designers are still investigating the core of the problem to gather more insights about the product. The focus here is on how to solve the issues faced by the users.
The more time the designers spend on research, the more relaxed they can be in the next few stages. They habitually spend more time at this stage than they had earlier envisaged.
Researchers may communicate and interact with actual users to get a firsthand account of the issues they face.
The design team may have to conduct direct interviews with the users or get inputs through an online survey with many respondents. The design team may even monitor the users in their daily life to get to the crux of the issue.
The idea is to differentiate the product from that of the competitor. For that reason, this stage also involves conducting competitive analysis, although the product may not have any real-time competitors.
- User analysis
After doing all the last steps, designers have collected a huge amount of raw data at their disposal. However, the data is not of much use unless it is converted into legitimate and valuable insight to take the design process forward.
This stage helps designers view issues from the user perspective, which serves as an effective design tool in the hands of the product designers. The way to do it, is creating empathic maps, where also create fiction characters to add the information about possible clients, making easier to access to the info recollected.
The design team brainstorms, where they also debate them proactively and deliberate over them to come to an understanding.
The essence is to target and address user needs and ensure their pain points are considered. It is essentially a narrative of the product that is established, with the designers visualizing the actual product, be it a website or an app.
All such efforts lead to a critical part of user experience, which determines how users react to content. Otherwise, known as information ecology, it provides valuable answers to understanding and controlling UX design.
This is followed by sketching and wireframing, two critical factors in the ideation process. Here is where the designer troubleshoots and may go back to the research stage to detect the causes of any issues that may still linger.
It is considered one of the most critical ones in dealing with the design itself. The prototyping loop comprises three stages:
The refining stage is when many design iterations are worked upon until one achieves a perfect finish. Also, the designers must detect flaws, if any, at this stage, or make improvements wherever possible. The review phase is when the users and stakeholders get an opportunity to test the product and offer their comments and feedback and suggest where changes need to be made.
Designers give the developers a document that they considered everything it is perfect, highlighting all aspects of the product, otherwise known as ‘design specification’. The developer then completes the process and comes up with what the designer had in mind.
- Testing & validation
But the process is not complete without testing and validation. Hence, the design team tests the product and closely monitors to check if the product has come out to their expectations. However, for the process to be unbiased, the designer team does a usability test with actual end-users, who will critically appraise the product and give feedback.
- Post-design process
In this step, the designer’s work is to ensure it doesn’t develop any flaws and act promptly on the feedback they receive from time to time. Designers can measure the product’s success using metrics gleaned from the data provided by numerous users.