As product designers, we are heavily involved in the decision-making process throughout a product’s lifecycle. From the early stages of problem definition to brainstorming solutions in the product’s growth stage, there is no way to avoid the responsibility of making design decisions and having ownership over them. In this article, we aim to present each product development stage and the designer’s impact on them.
Let's begin! 💪
A product development journey is said to be divided into four main stages:
In this stage, designers, product owners, business developers, stakeholders, and clients collaborate closely to identify the problem or need they are trying to solve, find a unique value proposition, build the business model, conduct market research & competition analysis, and finally, set clear and measurable product objectives.
The design stage follows shortly after the requirements are clear and we can define a product’s scope. Starting from early assumptions, the design decisions can be materialized into a low-fidelity wireframe for early peer-testing or to (in)validate some proposed solutions. It’s the most extensive stage in the design process because this is where the product takes shape.
The development stage usually (but not always, e.g., in Dual-Track Agile process) starts after the design stage is fully completed, and we have clear design deliverables, such as a strong brand identity, a high fidelity prototype, development-ready assets, and well-documented product requirements. Don’t be fooled! Even in the development stage, a designer’s involvement doesn’t stop. Following a methodology like Agile, the product is in a continuous measure-validate-design/develop-iterate-release loop.
This stage is the moment when the product reaches the market, and we can gather data from active users and validate or invalidate the way we anticipated they would use the product. This is the time when designers can grow and expand their knowledge the most, deepen their passion for solving problems and refine their research techniques. 🤩
A product designer wears many hats throughout this process. From facilitator to researcher to designer & user advocate, their role is an important one for a healthy product approach.
Let’s go through the abovementioned stages again, but now focus on the designer’s contributions and responsibilities. The following design decisions and deliverables are expected:
To sum up, a designer’s contribution to a product development lifecycle isn’t just limited to making sure that the application makes sense from a UX standpoint or designing the UI components. A good designer understands that a holistic approach, considering business goals, user needs, technical constraints & so on, contributes to and heavily impacts the outcome of the product they are designing. I hope you found valuable insights about a designer’s role in the product development stages! 🤝
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