Product design is a systematic process that helps companies to realize a specified vision. It starts with the product idea and ends with the launch and sales. In software development, product design brings full-fledged software to life to solve a customer-oriented problem.
When it comes to product design for startups, the process has certain specifics. If you don't know how to develop a product design for a startup, let's review the essential features and steps you must take to design a product.
The Specific Nature of Product Design for Startups
The process of product design for a startup has certain must-know features before getting started. Here are some of the most important of them:
No Universal Solution
Multiple factors affect the specifics of the product design process, including the needs of your target audience, the limitations of your resources, and the deadline allocated for the development process.
To accommodate each of these factors, the product design process needs to be tailored to specific objectives. This means that the answer to the question of how to design a new product is unique for each project, and the steps we list here are just some of the guidelines you can follow.
Non-Linear, Continuous and Iterative Development Process
The required steps to develop product design for startups overlap and repeat during the entire process. Each step is closely linked to the preceding ones, and they usually unveil new details about the ongoing project.
What is more, the iterative design principle is pretty popular, meaning that the product design runs in an infinite cycle. After the development of an MVP, you can add new features and refine the current ones indefinitely.
User-Oriented and Aligned with the Business
You need to create a valuable product that functions well within your business model. To achieve this, you should understand what features your targeted audience needs most of all, and, of course, listen to the opinion of stakeholders.
When working on the design of your product, you need to focus on steps that bring actual value and convey your company's message. Ensure to define the requirements for your product and follow through with them.
10 Steps to Develop Product Design for Startups
Step 1. Problem Analysis and Idea Generation
A successful product design process starts with the definition of the problem. This can either be a problem the product is supposed to solve or a particular design decision that needs to be made. Eventually, a team should be assembled based on the project's requirements.
The next part of this step is idea generation. The contributing team members should offer possible solutions: carefully consider even the most outlandish ideas. Above all, gather as many ideas as possible and consult them as the company's goals evolve.
Step 2. Kick-Off Meeting
A kick-off meeting is essential to the success of the product design operation because it defines the measure of success. It puts all the critical parties in the design and development process on the same page. Besides, miscommunication leads to costly mistakes in any business, and a kickoff meeting is a great way to avoid this headache. During the session, you should create a rough outline, define the team members, and specify the key metrics.
We will be happy to develop that idea into something special!
Step 3. User Interviews and User Persona Creation
Another essential step in the product design process for startups is user research. Your consumers form the epicenter of your product decision, so user interviews are crucial to gather their opinions. If done correctly, you can effectively determine your user base's interests.
Before the interview, make sure that the questions are carefully selected and formulated. Bad phrasing or bias can nullify the findings from an interview. Also, make sure that the interviewer works well with other people and is familiar with the project.
Based on the information you gather, you can create a detailed user persona that factors their demographic data.
Here are some key insights to monitor during user research:
Step 4. Competitor Research
Besides the user research, you need to conduct competitor research as well to create a product design for a startup. Find out how your direct competitors' products perform on the market.
Analyzing the approach of the competitor company will help you determine its effectiveness and exploitable weaknesses. Determine your product's unique selling proposition to stand out from the competition.
Step 5. User Journey Mapping
To better understand the potential interactions between the user and your product, you need to create a user journey map. This map is a layout of steps a user needs to perform to solve a particular problem. It can be as simple as a linear set of steps or branch out into multiple paths.
The more paths you predict the user can take, the better you understand how users will interact with your product. However, cluttered user journey maps can often complicate the entire process.
Step 6: User and Job Stories
With a user persona in mind, you can create user stories that would better visualize what the user wants to achieve while using your product. It should describe what the user wants and how a certain feature of your product can help them achieve the desired outcome.
While the user stories stem from the user's wants, job stories come from a job-to-be-performed standpoint. They outline multiple problems your user could face, and your task is to arrange them based on relevance to the user experience.
Step 7. Sketching and Wireframing
Sketching and wireframing are used to visualize the ideas for the user interface. Sketching focuses on the concept visualization itself, allowing the designer to test various options and pick the most suitable one.
Wireframing deals with the hierarchy of elements, the page structure, and the interactions between them. The wireframe needs to be well-structured since it serves as the product's backbone. However, they are not as interactive and should not be used for testing. Always make sure that the wireframes fit the size of the device for which the product is intended.
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Step 8. Prototyping
A prototype is a model for an idea before implementing it into the final product. Prototyping should be efficient and lightweight, with enough features for proper testing. They often start small and grow as additional features and ideas that become part of the product.
The definition of a prototype can vary from a simple sketch to a full-fledged interactive software, depending on your goals and the stage of the product design process. While working on the prototype, you can experiment with ideas and visualize adjustments. But at the end of the day, the prototype can serve as a specification for developers.
Try one of user's scenarios!
Step 9. Testing with the Product Team
Iterative testing is an essential stage of the design process, as it allows us to determine and fix the flaws and inconsistencies missed during the previous phases. You can also gain new ideas and gather data on the potential success of the product.
Testing the product with your team is a strategy that does not require a lot of resources. However, it allows you to weed out significant flows before the launch with inputs from your dedicated team.
Step 10. Testing with Users
Testing the product with users is a more practical approach because it targets potential consumers directly. Firstly, you need to conduct usability testing to determine the immediate problems with the UX design and interaction. This way, you will be able to see first-hand how your target audience uses the product and obtain some performance statistics.
If you want to gauge how the product will perform long-term, you can conduct 'diary testing.' Ask the participants to log answers to specific questions about the app for long periods so that you can make a definitive conclusion on the software performance.
Create Product Design for Startup with Aspirity
If you still need help with your product design, Aspirity is ready to help you. We have a ton of experience in the field, as we've been designing and improving multiple projects.
Our Cases: Helthjem & Socely
Helthjem is a Norvegian delivery service that came to us with the idea of creating a micro-store e-Commerce service. In addition, we've created so-called return shops for goods that did not fit the customer needs and were being returned through the delivery service. The main goal was to make the service convenient to use and easy to edit. This prompted the creation of an easy-to-use shop constructor in which you can edit all the primary information the store uses, including the shipping and payment methods.
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Another example of our successful projects is Socely. It is a communication service that uses smart scripts to send mass mailing offers to LinkedIn users. The main goal was to reach new users as efficiently and trustworthy as possible. This also required a convenient interface, highly customizable filters, and access to detailed statistics. The project has proven to be successful — it helped to cut down the monotonous work and improve the lead generation efficiency.
Whether you want to create a similar product or have a unique idea, we're ready to help you bring it to life!
All in all, startup product design is a complex and complicated process. It requires a lot of resources and expertise to be successful. Furthermore, every project requires its unique approach, and the process continues in cycles, even beyond the product launch. Hopefully, this article has laid down the groundwork for you to succeed with the design of your own product. If you need additional help, contact Aspirity right now.
This article was written in collaboration with Maria D.—UI/UX Designer at Aspirity
CEO AT ASPIRITY
For more than 2,5 years, I've been working as CEO at Aspirity. I help professionals launch digital products by providing dedicated development teams.