What is a product? Until recently, the term was used only in relation to something material and often found in a retail store. Nowadays, it is coming to mean digital products as well. Apps and websites are modern products.
When it comes to building great products, design is the most important “feature.” We’ve moved into the stage where product design dominates — it’s what sets companies apart and gives a real edge over competitors.
Whether you’re a designer, developer, product manager, program manager, marketing manager, or project manager, it’s essential to understand (and have a reference guide to) the product development process in order to create your best work.
In this three-part series, I’ll focus on the main principles and approaches that will help you design great products. In part one, I’ll start with global things (like what product design is all about), and in parts two and three, I’ll discuss the individual phases of product design (such as research, ideation, testing, and validation).
What is product design?
Product design is the process of identifying a market opportunity, clearly defining the problem, developing a proper solution for that problem, and validating the solution with real users.
Design thinking as the foundation for the design process
“Design thinking” is a method for the practical resolution of problems. Originally coined by David Kelley and Tim Brown of IDEO, design thinking has become a popular approach to creating products. This approach encapsulates methods and ideas of human-centered design into a single unified concept. According to Tim Brown:
“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
Good designers have always applied design thinking to product design (whether physical or digital) because it’s focused on end-to-end product development, and not just the design phase.