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Product design process: 6 essential steps to follow


Maria Nikolava




Jun 18, 2020

When it comes to product creation, there are several factors you will have to consider before getting down to software development. If you have a fantastic idea and you have already raised enough investment to build it, you should make sure your solution will be in demand among your target audience. Otherwise, what is the point of bringing it to the market? 

Here is where product design steps in to connect your audience with the solution you are going to develop. 

Although many might believe that the product design process is all about creating something appealing and good-looking, it is far more than that. Product designers help companies to understand their target audience better, define their pain points, and make sure their products fit the niche and solve a real-life problem. 

Without further ado, let’s look into what product design is, define its main steps and expand on how we at Mentalstack handle this process. 

What is product design?

The IT market has become so saturated that even developing a simple product might be complicated. You’ll need to assemble a team of highly qualified business analysts, UX/UI designers, marketing professionals, user behavior researchers, and software engineers to ensure your solution will appeal to your customers. 

Product design is the process that helps you to identify opportunities on the market, reveal real-life problems, and develop a solution to meet the needs and wants of the target audience. It provides you with a comprehensive understanding of your product: what problems it is going to solve, which pain points will be addressed, how it should look like to appeal to its users, and what functions will be demanded by your users. 

What are the main steps of the product design process?

Every vendor handles the product design process in a different way. So depending on the software development partner you choose, the phases might vary greatly. 

At Mentalstack, we take a complex approach to each case to make sure we meet your expectations. When a client reaches out to us, we go through the following product design phases: 

1. Market & user research 

We believe that in-depth market research is a key product design phase. By analyzing data and extracting meaningful insights from it, we can draw relevant conclusions, which will help software engineers and marketers to tailor the product to the target audience’s needs. 

For this purpose, we select several competitors from your niche and look at their weak and strong points. Our team analyzes what has been done well and what can be improved. At this step, we create a SWOT matrix (portraying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition and project planning). 

We also pay attention to the way users interact with the app to determine which features are essential and what functions or UX elements need to be added. 

Based on this data, we develop buyer personas and make suggestions on the improvement of the product. We wrap up all this information in the report and send it to the customer. 

2. Drawing a mindmap

When we have the results of the market & user research at hand, it is time to plan the logic of your product. Mindmap is one of the most important phases in product design as it allows us to get into the head of your user and track how he/she is going to interact with your product. 

User flow is a path taken by your prototypical clients to complete a particular task in your app or on the website. At this stage of the product design process, we track how your customers will go from the entry point towards a successful outcome, such as purchasing a product or filling in your contact form to schedule a call. 

The user journey map is essential for developing the logic of your application and defining the gaps, which might hinder your client from reaching the goal. 

3. Creating high-fidelity wireframes

Wireframes, or blueprints, communicate the structure of the product’s features. As a rule, they reflect the functionality of the app or website rather than the design. Wireframes connect the underlying elements of the product at the surface level to see how the user interacts with all components. 

This is an essential step of the product design process as it takes up to 70% of the time employees allocate to the project. Here we go into details to draw the entire UX and show the transitions between the elements. 

4. UI design

When we conduct in-depth market research and have a user journey map and wireframes, our team is ready to move to UI design - one of the most exciting product design phases. Our seasoned UX/UI designers communicate with the client to create the vision for the product and agree on the main design elements. 

After that, they create a mood board where our specialists demonstrate several styles for the product and discuss them with a customer. If it is still challenging for you to make a choice, we can create several concepts for a screen and send it to you so you can see the differences. When we agree on the style, our team makes a UI kit and applies it to the wireframe. 

5. Building an interactive prototype

Although it’s one of the most important steps of the product design process, many young entrepreneurs unjustly omit it. Startup founders rush into building an MVP without the prototypes as they believe it will shorten their time to market and help to get users’ feedback faster. 

By skipping this critical phase of product design, you make the product development process more complicated for your team. Developers and designers need to have a visual representation of the future app to build a full-fledged product without bugs or errors. 

Furthermore, a clickable prototype allows you to test software, see how it works, and demonstrate it to your investors.

6. Develop a product

When almost all the steps of the product design process are done, we move on to the development. At this stage, we work on support and answer all the team’s questions to make sure you and your users will be satisfied with the outcome. 

As a full-cycle software development agency, we have vast expertise in all phases of product design, so we can provide you with high-quality consultancy on how to implement your product, what positioning to choose and how to promote it on the global market. We also keep track of the quality and do our best to provide your users with a seamless experience. 

Create an awesome product design with Mentalstack!

We have guided you through all the phases of product design, explained what product design is, and provided a few tips on how to handle this process in the best way. 

Contact Mentalstack to make your boldest design idea come alive! Our specialists will analyze your product and ensure it appeals to your audience. 

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