Digital product development is a dynamic and ever-evolving process that involves creating innovative and user-centric products in the digital realm. Whether you're a startup entrepreneur or an established business looking to expand your digital presence, understanding the fundamentals of digital product development is essential. So, let's delve into the key aspects of digital product development, that can help you to get valuable insights and actionable steps to kickstart your journey.

What is digital product development?

Irrespective of the medium or field, customers expect the best of online and offline experience. Digital products ensure absolute comfort for the customers, and a profitable outcome for the companies. This is applicable for all companies, big and small. In short, digital product development is building a digital resource aimed at resolving specific problems, hence proving to be more than a mere mobile or web app.

Product design vs product development

To start with, one should remember that the process is more important than the term used. However, design and development carry their own share of differences.

Product development is the entire lifecycle of a product from the idea to it reaching the target audience. A product is under development throughout its lifecycle encompassing stages like idea, market analysis, product specification, conceptual design, detailed design including cost and other aspects, manufacturing, logistics, sales, improvements and updates.

As seen from this information, it is understood that product design is one part of product development. It involves technical experts and is predominantly one of the initial processes of development. It involves concept design, architectural design, design calculation, integration, prototyping, testing and verification. These are the steps that ensure the product’s successful arrival in the market without hiccups.

Resolving a legitimate problem

Digital products are not simple apps that create a better experience. Anything ranging from an app to a physical device like a smart phone can be categorized as digital product. Although the desired result is a better user experience, a digital product has to resolve an existing problem.

Thus, developing such a product should be user-centered after gathering the necessary insights on their requirements. This involves extensive market research, and identifying the extent to which the product can be pushed to resolve the problem. Identifying a customer/user problem is the first step to a digital product development.

In other words, this is called ‘Experience-driven transformation’. Top firms have also claimed that they were able to reduce cost by 20% to 50%, depending on the product nature.

Importance of behavior change

Certain beliefs and behaviors are innate in customers. The bigger the change required, the harder it gets to convince them. If a product aims to alter customers’ behavior, the company should be ready for a love-hate relationship with the target users. Sufficient innovation and significant reduction of workload can help convincing the customers.

The theoretical approach requires companies to grab customers’ attention, influence decisions, facilitate changes, and sustain behavior. This path shows where to begin while designing for behavioral change. The last step of sustaining behavior helps in continuing the trend in the longer run.

Approaches to digital product development

  1. Waterfall approach

This is a traditional approach that works on a top-to-bottom basis. This linear approach has been one of the most followed, and takes a systematic process.

The steps include

  • Conception
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Implementation
  • Testing

This method is applicable to companies with larger budget and stringent documentation processes. Thus, big companies find this approach more comfortable, especially for their in-house projects.

2. Agile development

Agile is one of the most preferred approaches in modern tech development. It is flexible and easy-to-use. The adaptive nature is possible, thanks to division of the process into smaller steps, implementing changes and modifications whenever required. The phases include

  • Requirements
  • Development
  • Testing
  • Delivery
  • Feedback

Agile permits clients and development partners to work as a team, and the communication is direct. It is followed by firms that require quick and faultless outputs. 77% of the top performing companies agree that they place users at the forefront while using agile methodology.

3. Hybrid approach

Several companies follow the hybrid approach, where they define a common methodology that allows customization based on the products. This creates a common environment with individual teams working on their iterations. Different teams are held together by a common thread, that allows them to synchronize the release time. Though they are passively dependent on each other, waterfall teams work with upfront planning and agile teams look to decide based on the phases.

The choice of approach depends on factors like the industry, product, and constraints of time and money. There is no fixed method to choose a suitable approach for a business. The start-up scene witnesses usage of multiple approaches depending on their requirements at different stages.

Firms mostly rely on digital product development partners to have a successful digital product. The ultimate aim is to give the users a smoother and better experience. The experts streamline the workflow, enhance the firm’s digital presence, and assist in improving the product even after its launch. A good development partner would empower the firm’s internal teams to improve the digital experience even after their roles end. Learn more about digital strategies here.