How we research for designing a new product

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This blogpost is the first part from a series of blogposts, where I will tell you about our design process.

This research process reflects the decisions on building the first stage of an application or product. In this particular case, the starting point was an internal idea, in your case it could be a client reaching you with an idea.

This process focus on small teams, with a big concentration of roles for example research, prototype, design and content, in just one or two people.

We see a lot of small and medium tech companies, with few designers in relation to the number of engineers, and probably no one doing content or writing.

What is meant is that you will have extra work to compensate a multidisciplinary team.

Please, be aware there are no recipes for building an app, this is a just a proposal method to guide and structure the process. Use it in the best way you can, tailoring the solution in the benefit of product.

Define the three dimensions:

  • Stakeholders (client, producer, shop, companies)
  • External experts (professionals on the field, professors and academics ...)
  • User (end-user, the person who uses the app)

Problem Statement

Write a quick brief of your idea, and more importantly what you need to end-up with, your outcomes. Write in one sentence, short and easy to remember, what do you want to do. Think clearly in the ultimate impact and what you are trying to achieve. Give yourself a starting point, and enough “length” to allow you to explore a variety of solutions or creative answers. This action prevents you from getting stuck in just one possible case, or getting close to an existing market solution.

Example:

  • Define the vision for a new product to manage household cleaning;

Outcome:

  • Prototype the first version of the mobile application;

Understanding the problem and the need

Probably you will start this project with a meeting, or with call, where your client, or product owner will explain you what is in his/her mind. It could be just an idea or a guess, it could be the entire app, or it could be a similar existing app. And this time is crucial, you need to listen and in the end ask questions.

If you are working on a completely new idea or project, it can be really helpful to do exploratory research.

  • What is the problem?
  • Who are the consumers/users?
  • Why we/they need it?
  • Whom for?
  • What for?
  • Constraints
  • HMW

Client related questions (if applied)

  • Why are they doing this?
  • What motivates the client, the company or the product owner?
  • What is his/her understanding of the concept of cleaning?

Who are the users? Define your audience

It’s hard having the complete idea of who you are designing for, but it’s necessary targeting for a group, an audience. And don’t limit your thinking just to the people you’re designing for. You may need to consider others parts – Companies, Providers, Governments.

  • Think accurately in the people or groups that are directly involved in or reached by your product. Are you designing for a mom or a dad? For a company? Keep them in mind, so you can visualise them.
  • Add people or groups who are peripherally relevant, or are associated with your direct audience.
  • Think about the connections these people have with the topic. Who are the fans? Who are the skeptic? Who do you need on your side the most?

If you're a getting all this question answered it's a good starting point, you will have a lot of information to make decisions, based in evidences. So forget the guessing and apply this tool every time you need to defend the product and its decisions.