A Solid Approach to Digital Product Development

When designing a new product or service, it’s important to ensure that your team is aligned and marching in the right direction. Solid Digital’s process for building new products can help create the game plan for making it all happen.

Generally speaking, digital products are usually either created from scratch or composed of multiple, existing solutions currently available in the market. One thing for certain is that you are not going to know everything up front. Your plan needs to flex. Also, the team and the client need to flex too.

When building a new product, we use a specific process to manage it. The way website development is managed is very different than creating a new product. Managing digital product development is a multi-disciplinarily practice that is very challenging. It requires a clear vision, aligned business strategy and a team that understands what needs to be done NOW as well as in the long term.

Product Vision

A strong strategic vision for the product helps guide the decision making through the entire process. Establishing a vision up front helps teams set up a framework in which to measure success. One thing a vision is not is a list of features or specific requirements. It’s a high-level overview and speaks to the nature of the problem that you are trying to solve. You can learn more about this in our post about creating a digital product vision board (Coming Soon).

Discover

The discovery phase of a project is very important to set the tone for the working relationship. Above all, a good discovery process does wonders for the client experience and quality of the project. When done well, planning is easy and production becomes predictable. Comparatively, when done poorly, you are shooting in the dark and should be afraid, very afraid. Here at Solid Digital, we perform discovery at all levels, creative, UX, marketing, tech, and support. Initially, the team digs into as much as we can to perform all the plumbing activities of the project. Coupled with, UX/UI teams researching the use cases as designers create mockups. Technology roughs in their architectures and tests their data models. Clients participate in live UX workshops where we spend a few hours together and rapidly develop ideas. When all is said and done, we are ready for the game plan.

Planning

Discovery is where all work gets defined and flushed out, and the planning phase is where we take what we learned and create user stories that can be estimated. Once we have a comprehensive backlog of work, we combine each item with an estimate of effort and business value. This is where the negotiation takes place. The client and team determine what is MVP and what is not. Our goal is to work on the lowest effort items with the highest business value. Everything else is negotiated based on the time and budget available to do the project. At the end of this phase, the client and team have a defined MVP, as well as a proposed sprint schedule.

Production

Most of the time spent on a project like this is in the production phase. Screens are created, the code is written, decisions are made and the scope changes constantly. Much of the success of completing the MVP on time and on the budget is the SCRUM / Agile process we use, with a twist. We focus on something called the 70/30 rule. Read more about how our 70/30 rule ensures that teams deliver reliably every time.

MVP

As the project comes to a close, we are prepared to release the first iteration of a product. It is ready for testing in the market and is aligned with the vision. It is very common for products to change multiple times before everything is just right. As a result, we don’t recommend launching a product that includes every feature requested. There’s a high likelihood that things will change after launch and the simpler a product is, the easier it is to pivot in the future.

After the MVP is released, there is a multitude of potential ways to move forward and very much depends on the business strategy. Once users start using your software you’re going to discover that they use it in ways never intended. For purposes that it wasn’t designed. They’ll find value in areas that you might not have known. The key is to build in enough ways to collect this information and listen to your users while staying true to your vision.   

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