Whether tangible or intangible, all products are developed to provide value to both the creators and the users. The former typically generates revenue from the products while the latter uses it to solve specific problems.
Essentially, digital products are tools or services that users interact with through digital mediums, e.g., banking services delivered through banking apps. Unlike low-level cycles, most high-level workflows of developing digital products consist of the same elements. These elements are adjustable based on the complexity and requirements of a project. Here are some tenets of high-level product development cycles.
Ideation is all about identifying a problem and developing a solution in the form of a digital product. Given that only 10% of ideas become successful digital products, you should use this phase to determine your idea’s prospects and avoid failure from the outset. This phase may include activities such as research and analysis, budgeting, value proposition, and strategy.
- Research and Analysis
This is among the most crucial stages for any product development cycle. It involves gathering and analyzing different data to understand the target audience, determine the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, and evaluate product-market fit.
This step involves defining the available financial resources and forecasting both short-term and long-term costs.
- Value Proposition
Value proposition identifies the benefits and drawbacks of your product from the end user’s perspective. This robust analytical approach helps check your digital product’s validity.
Among the greatest reasons why start-ups fail is because they base their strategies on inspiration. Winning strategies rest on product roadmaps with clear goals, value proposition, success metrics, implementation plans, and competitive analysis.
After successful ideation, you can move on to designing and wireframing your product to visualize how it looks and feels.
Prototyping guides you on how to develop your digital product. Ideally, it should be your first attempt at introducing UX and UI visually. Although prototypes have basic designs and limited functionality, they are essential for convincing investors and getting critiques from early adopters.
- Pilot Testing
During pilot testing, your team gets to refine the product before alpha/beta deployment. Pilot testing provides an estimate of the product’s development from the end user’s perspective.
- Alpha/Beta Release
Alpha releases are the first working prototypes used for internal testing of design and functionality. Beta releases collect feedback on user experience and can be made available to the public.
- Agile Implementation
Agile development accelerates the pace of product development and empowers teams to transform ideas into reality iteratively. This form of development favors an agile approach that facilitates product adjustment and evolution instead of waterfall projects.
It also requires cross-functional teams to speed up processes and minimize handovers. For instance, an embedded software engineer will develop and optimize code for your target hardware platforms. In contrast, backend developers will develop the code your product needs to run on the cloud/server.
As part of agile development, you will split your workflow into sprints, with functional software delivered after each sprint.
- QA (Quality Assurance)
QA involves performing testing activities to refine the quality of your digital product. Through testing activities, your team can identify and eliminate any bugs and defects.
4. Product Launch
Product launches are the culmination of the development process. Despite having already invested a lot of effort at this point, you may still encounter many more challenges. For starters, you will need a pre-launch strategy that may consist of teasers or landing pages, email marketing, social media campaigns, pre-release reviews, and miscellaneous promotion campaigns.
The actual market launch will not be simple as well. Your launch activities should revolve around appealing to the personas you identified in your market analysis.
5. Maintenance and Support
Despite being often overlooked, the post-launch maintenance and support phase of digital product development is crucial, particularly for product growth. It is the longest phase for successful digital products, with the potential to overshadow product creation and launch costs if left unchecked.
Do not limit your ideas to the build-and-launch phase. Instead, implement them post-launch to adapt your product to a dynamic environment and changing customer needs.