Creative and innovative individuals are capable of generating outstanding and unique product ideas frequently – but what ultimately matters is if these ideas can be actualized; if there’s a market for them, and if they really do work in practice.

As such, while having an amazing technical mindset and the willingness to try new ideas can help revolutionize industries, it’s essential we abide by the logic of the product development process after its inception.

This set of principles is not only good for abiding by essential regulatory compliance in the design process (for example, ensuring baked-in safety features are included), but it will enable you to consider every developmental vantage point before the full rollout of your design.

Furthermore, what may seem like a complete idea now will likely undergo vast iterations, prototypes and revisions before an idea culminates in its final form.

In this post, we’ll outline the essential seven steps required to take a product from concept to launch. If you’re looking to streamline this process by partnering with acclaimed industry professionals, consider the deep insight a product design and development agency such as PQ Design Group can provide you.

The Product Development Process

1. Idea Generation

The idea generation process is simultaneously the easiest and most difficult part of the product development process. It can be defined as the easiest because formless concepts are free to think on, write about, and discuss. It may be the hardest because for every one hundred ideas or more, only one will have any worth and practical possibility.

This means that separating the wheat from the chaff is important. Ideation, interaction and brainstorming are all essential in making sure ideas stand up to scrutiny. 

That process works best as a collaborative exchange, where teams come together to discuss the needs of the market and how an idea might fit within that. When a concept is chosen and considered tenable for its coherence, relevance and significance, it may rise to step two of the idea generation process – research.

2. Research

Just as separating the wheat from the chaff is essential for the proper use of grain kernels, ideas need to stand up to (and be filtered by) scrutiny in order to work. Even the best-laid plans that sound tremendously inspiring can fall down in the research process.

It may simply be that someone has had this idea before, and is further along the product development process than you – already taking out product patents to protect their idea from those looking to capitalize on it before them.

Maybe you have a misunderstanding of a target market, how much they’re willing to spend, or what kind of demographics may be interested.

This is why near-academic processes such as SWOT analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), as well as providing deep research into your target market and existing products is key. You can run focus groups, offer surveys, and interview those in a potential target market, finding substantial feedback that helps in your product validation.

Looking at your competition is essential, too. You can be certain that famed vehicle manufacturers designing electric vehicles are keeping a close eye on everything Tesla Motors decides to launch. This helps inform your own position, and where a product may fit in that.

Such a step enables you to figure out your value proposition, and define success metrics regarding your industrial design most of all.

3. Design Planning

Design planning is an essential process, one that validates an idea that has stood up to conceptual discussion and deep research. Through sketching, illustration, CAD design and even 3D printing scale models – a product’s design can be represented in its most primitive form.

Here, you may be able to showcase to investors, or those higher up the chain of business command exactly what your thoughts are, using a demonstration to aid your presentation. Design planning will also give you the opportunity to stipulate the materials needed for such a construction, and the several layers of procedural production that will be required. 

Concepts should be refined and amount to something. How will you solve certain problems in your design, such as providing the best sports shoe grip? How will sun lotion be made appropriate for suitable skin? This is where your research informs your developmental prowess.

Costing is also an essential element in design planning – coherently researching the design of given materials and how they’ll better impact your judgment.

4. Prototyping

Prototyping the idea is the first time the concept becomes tangible. A prototype serves as a rudimentary first construction of the product. For instance, when the first iPhones were developed, hardware shells of the phone casing were provided to give engineers and technical specialists a better idea of what the user eXperience (UX) would be for the end-user.

This sample is used as an example of how mass production may develop. As prototypes are iterated upon, they become more and more functional until they resemble the first concept of your final product. The process requires experimentation and care.

In many cases, innovators will rely upon a third-party service to help them through the latter stages of the product development process – such as the profound insight and creative problem-solving talent offered by PQ Design Group.

5. Sourcing/Supply, Validation & Testing

When a prototype has been confirmed as the final model best representing your product, essential testing will begin. This validation process, such as through front-end testing that helps assess consumer-facing errors, will enable you to validate the final iteration.

From here, sourcing and supply will take place simultaneously, in order to ensure that mass production (or production alongside your stated aims), can feasibly take place. From sourcing manufacturers to ensuring supplier logistics are assured – this is where the culmination of your idea prepares for commercial launch.

6. Commercial Launch & Marketing

A commercial launch is an exciting time in the life of any business. It will be backed up by preemptive marketing announcing the launch date, often undertaken by video ads, magazine ad placements, and more commonly, online and social media content.

Depending on your target market, your approach may change. What matters is making the release date crystal clear, ensuring your delivery capacity is primed, and in certain cases, that you gather pre-orders.

A full marketing launch compounding the novelty of the idea and the relevance of the product will enable your product to gain maximum impact. Ecommerce implementation is utilized in order to stretch purchasing far and wide. 

From here, the success of your product will be measured by the prior success markers defined in the early stages of the process.

With a product design and development agency such as PQ Design Group at your service, each stage will be supported by transparent attention-to-detail, as well as a constantly evolving industrial design experience.

We wish you the best of luck with your product!