Developing and launching new products is one of the most important ways for your business to expand. New products give existing customers more chances to spend money with your company, and provide a clear way for you to attract new ones.
Product development is neither cheap nor risk-free – you have to invest substantial resources in research and development, and the production of prototypes before you have a product you can launch to start earning back it’s development costs and turning a profit. Even if you do invest a lot of time and money in making a product you think is perfect for your customers, there’s a chance they won’t agree, and if you organise a big product launch with a strong marketing push behind it, and the product fails to find it’s audience, it can do some serious damage to your brand. Think of a movie studio that invests a lot of money in what they hope will be a summer blockbuster: if it gets critically savaged, and hardly anyone goes to see it, not only do they lose the majority of the money they invested in making the film, it also becomes less likely people will go to see future films made under that brand.
It’s worth taking the time to understand how the product development process works, so you can make more informed decisions about how you’re spending your money.
It’s important to test not just prototype products, but the very concepts you’re considering taking forward to development. Customers need to be able to grasp how this potential new product can work for them: why it would be valuable to them and therefore worth spending their money on. If they can’t grasp the concept that the product is based on, it’s unlikely to be worth the money it will take to design and make it.
Iterating on Prototypes
When you begin to produce prototypes, be it of a physical product or mock-ups of the UI and functionality, it’s important to give consumers access to see how they use them. People within your own business already know how your systems are meant to work, so they don’t make good test subjects.
To get a true read on how good your designs are, you need outsiders, unprejudiced by a history with your products. Working with a market research company can help you find testers, as well as finding the right way to learn from their use of a prototype. Asking the right questions and watching their behaviour in the right way will give you the insights you need to feed into the next prototype, and ensure you’re iterating your way to success.