Product development is one of the most challenging aspects of running a business, because it’s a rare situation in which your offering is already so perfect you don’t need to improve or evolve with the market. You can vastly save a great deal of time and stress in your efforts to create new products and services, or expand on or enhance your existing ones, with five specific strategies.
Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
Product development is most successful when it is directly connected to an unmet customer need. “If you can create a smooth, flawless experience with no interference or frustrations, it’s likely that people will enjoy using your product. Solve a problem and make lives easier,” said Ali Mahvan, CEO of social shopping company Sharebert. “You're not starting a company to build a product for yourself. You're starting a company to build a product for your customers. Customer feedback has driven every major design and experience decision throughout the building of the Sharebert app and is our number one metric for design.”
Iron Out a Process
Torrey Tayenaka, CEO of video production company Sparkhouse, wanted to create animated explainer videos to market customers’ businesses, products, and services. Explainer videos are useful because you can produce them without actors and cameras, and while a product is still in the concepting stage. However, the idea is a relatively new one, so Tayenaka needed to build a process that could be easily understood and followed by his team and customers alike. “We took our time in developing a 12-step animation process that we always strive to communicate clearly,” he said.
Take the Airplane Window View
To excel at product development, you must be willing to take a step back and look around you even as you have the urge to charge forward. “We are constantly looking at the big picture, asking ourselves: do we know what we are creating, who we are creating it for and why we are creating it?” said Tayenaka. “If we understand those key points, we can always make sure the ship is headed in the right direction. But on the other hand, if we get too excited about features and specifics, we can lose sight of what’s really important.”