Digital product design is a rapidly evolving field, one that encompasses the creation of every virtual good and service available on our screens. If you're intrigued and want to venture into this realm, this article will serve as your comprehensive guide. Here, we will explore what a digital product is, delve into the concept of digital product design, unravel the principles behind creating successful digital products, explain the user-centred product design process, and, importantly, help you steer clear of common pitfalls.
What is a digital product?
In the simplest terms, a digital product is any software-based solution or service that serves a particular function or meets specific user needs. These range from websites, mobile applications, and virtual reality environments to digital subscriptions, software services, and electronic books. Products and services we use daily, like Netflix, Spotify, Deliveroo, Amazon, Etsy, Slack, and even Google Drive, all have something in common - seamless, user-centric design. This, in combination with the problems they solve for their customers, makes them stand out.
What is digital product design?
Digital product design is a multidisciplinary process that combines technology, business strategy, psychology, and design to create a user-friendly digital solution. It goes beyond the mere aesthetics of the product. It's about understanding users' needs and behaviours, then utilising this understanding to create an efficient, enjoyable, and engaging user experience.
Principles behind designing a successful digital product
Designing a successful digital product is akin to solving a complex puzzle, with each piece representing a different user need. A few key principles to guide this process are:
- User-centric design: The product must cater to the needs, limitations, and preferences of the users. Without this focus, the product will fall short of delivering value.
- Simplicity: Overly complex designs can deter users. Strive for simplicity without compromising functionality.
- Accessibility: Ensure the product is easily usable by people of all abilities and disabilities.
- Consistency: Maintain a consistent design across all product features and interactions to enhance usability and learnability.
- Feedback & Iteration: Regular user feedback and subsequent iterations are crucial for continuous improvement and keeping the product relevant.
The stages of digital product development
The user-centred design process places the user at the heart of product development, encompassing the following key stages:
- Understand: Start by deeply understanding your user – their needs, behaviours, and pain points.
- Ideation: This is the initial stage where the idea for the product is conceptualised. It includes market research, competitor analysis, identification of user needs, and defining the product's unique value proposition.
- Planning and Strategy: In this stage, the roadmap for the product is developed. This includes determining the goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), technologies to be used, required resources, timelines, and the overall strategy for the product's development and launch.
- Design: This stage involves creating the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. UI design focuses on the look and feel of the product, while UX design ensures that the product is easy to use and provides a seamless experience for the user. This step often involves creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.
- Development: Once the design is approved, the product is then built by a team of developers. This process includes front-end development (creating the user-facing part of the product), back-end development (building the server side of the product), and integration of all parts into a functional product.
- Testing: This is a crucial stage where the product undergoes various types of testing to ensure its quality and reliability. This includes usability testing, functional testing, performance testing, and security testing, among others.
- Launch: After testing, the product is ready to be launched in the market. This stage includes preparing launch materials, press releases, user manuals, and other marketing efforts.
- Maintenance and Updates: Post-launch, the product is maintained to fix any bugs, improve performance, and make any necessary updates or changes based on user feedback or market changes.
Remember, this process is not always linear and might involve returning to earlier stages based on feedback, testing, and changing requirements. The key to successful digital product development is maintaining flexibility and adaptability.
Avoiding common product design mistakes
Venturing into the world of digital product design can be treacherous if you're not aware of some common pitfalls:
- Ignoring user feedback: Never overlook the importance of user feedback. This critical input can make or break your product's success.
- Overloading features: More features do not necessarily make a better product. Stay focused on your users' needs and avoid unnecessary feature overload.
- Lack of consistency: Inconsistent design elements can confuse users and hurt the overall user experience.
- Not iterating: Digital product design is not a 'one and done' process. Regular iterations based on user feedback and changes in market trends are essential.
Digital product design is undoubtedly complex, but it can be an incredibly rewarding journey with the right understanding and approach. By focusing on the user, maintaining simplicity and consistency, and being responsive to feedback, you can navigate the path to successful digital product design.
How can you get started with digital product design?
At Calls9, we specialise in designing, building and launching disruptive digital products and services. From marketing platforms and customer portals to international sales systems and internal business tools, we combine technical and creative skills to create products that are optimised for usability and performance.
With our Team as a Service model, you will get access to a team of experts embedded in your internal one to extend your capabilities and speed up time to market.