Product Development Process with UX

The goal is to share how larger organizations can include user experience throughout the product development process.

Assumption: This is a larger organization with product development, marketing and technology teams.

1. Get an Idea or a Hypothesis

Where does an idea come from?

Most ideas at larger organizations come from three main areas: user feedback, user research, or marketing. This is not to say a person from any department can’t have an idea, but these are the biggest drivers of the main ideas.

User feedback can be user testing or user filled out surveys. User research can include user testing, interviews, or ethnographic research. Marketing can consist of market surveys and focus groups. User feedback and user research can uncover problems users are having. Marketing can provide details into whether a user will want to use or buy an idea.

“Marketing is the what and user research is the why!”

These tools allow an idea to be turned into a hypothesis. However a larger corporation would like more details on a hypothesis before backing it completely.

2. Validate the Idea

Is it good for the business?

Is it good for the users?

Will there be a return on investment in dollars?

These are some of the answers the business needs to build confidence in pushing an idea into production. To solve this, a small team of product development, user experience, development, and sometimes marketing strategy are brought together to keep the business, user, technology, and problem in mind to successfully evaluate it from all sides.

Some of the tools this group can use to do this can include prototyping, user testing, and iterating. First the team prototypes an idea.  Then the prototype can be tested with users to learn more about the problem, flow and direction of the idea. Finally, the team can iterate on the idea and keep going through this cycle until they feel they are confident in the direction.

To meet the needs of the organization the team can make sure the product owner feels confident in the idea. If the product owner is on board, then they can present the latest work to the leaders or stakeholders of the organization to “sell” the idea into the development phase.

3. Create the Product

With the stakeholder backing, the hypothesis can now be created into a larger project to share with more users. The team will still include product development, user experience, design, development, and sometimes marketing strategy however it may be a larger number of people now. The team can now build the hypothesis through scenarios. The scenario allows the team to take one path through the process while still delivering value.

In this phase it is easy to lose sight on the hypothesis and get bogged down in the technical details. The key is to keep the work small, and focus on a scenario to deliver value to the business and user. The team goes through a cycle of review by testing and researching the scenarios with users and iterating as they go.

Scenarios are hard. They deliver lots of little bits of  many different features. That makes development and design hard! Yes!

With the team building scenarios and continually iterating, they start to have enough scenarios to warrant a “product.” These scenarios are presented to the stakeholders with the details of the continuous feedback.

4. Continuous Development

The old adage “is when will the product go live?”, however the product has been live the whole time in this process. Now the new question is when will the company push more users to it? How many more scenarios should the team build? This is an easier process for marketing, product, and stakeholders now that the product has been live and the research and information is all there. The company can decide to go bigger, fast or slow, but they now have the information for the users and business to help them decide. The product can now deliver new value and scenarios continually with more information along the way.

With scenario based delivery, users can drive what is being built, the business can continually receive value, and the technology can be kept updated. It is a win-win for all!

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