26 Apr 2017

The Path of Product Development

Written by: Alexandria Ray Agresta

Alexandria Ray Agresta headshotSo, what is product development anyway? It’s a term overused in the entrepreneurship world quite a bit, but is a key to understanding early on in the journey. Product development is a series of steps that include conceptualization, design, development and marketing of a newly created product or service. That’s pretty broad if you ask me. Let’s break it down.

Conceptualization: This is when we start turning our 2 a.m. brain blasts written out on our kitchen napkins to reality. Are others experiencing the same frustrations as we are? We instantaneously begin a Google search, revealing industry problems and already existing solutions. This is when we think to ourselves, “I know we can solve this problem better,” and thus your company is born. It’s imperative to begin building a mind-map. I use the Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder. There are nine working elements of the canvas, so it’s important to delegate tasks of who focuses on what. It’ll be difficult since your company is your baby at this moment in time, but delegation is a critical skill to embrace at this stage.

Design: So, what’s our product or service going to look and feel like? This is where user experience starts to play a key role. From my experience of analyzing early stage startups, you can have an outstanding, “billion dollar idea,” but without the user experience to make it seamless for the person to understand and navigate, you’ve got nada. Nilche. Nothin’. Gaining UI/UX feedback early on is ideal. Gather up ten of your friends, tell them there will be free food and gather all the data you can. We will delicately handle, analyze and implement this feedback in the next stage.

Development: Round up the developers and stock up on the ramen noodles- it’s time to build this puppy. Remember that delicate data we gathered? This is where we implement it creating a sound foundation of beautiful design and functionality, but most importantly, it’s a product we know our target market will want through our customer discovery.

Marketing:  Aaaah. My favorite part of the product development path- branding and marketing. Here we set our brand standards: colors, logo, fonts, cheesy tag lines, proper tag lines, social media hash tags- you name it, we have to set the standard for it. It’s important to eliminate the unnecessary elements and pre-existing notions we may have, focusing first on understanding the target market you’ve identified and the communication channels they prefer. Just because you think Facebook is the best form of advertising, it may not be the most ideal for your audience. Go into this phase as a blank slate. You’d be amazed at the things you will learn from understanding the emotional elements behind marketing and the psychology to it.

Alexandria will talk this, and more, at tomorrow’s Focus on Entrepreneurs Conference. Get your tickets here!

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