Whether you’re selling physical goods, like printed t-shirts, or services, like marketing consulting — there’s a process you always go through. Know what it is?
The product development process, of course.
Depending on what you’re building and how deep your resources are, this process can take months or even years. To manage this lengthy undertaking, engaging and informative visuals can help. In fact, with a little visual communication, you can ensure your team is heading in the right direction, and that you’re promoting your product effectively upon its launch.
But when should you employ visuals? And what are the steps in the product development process, anyway?
In this blog, I’ll walk you through a six-step new product development process, as well as some Venngage templates that can help your company succeed.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is product development?
- What is the new product development process?
- What are the 4 stages of the product life cycle?
- What are common product development strategies?
- Product roadmap examples
- Product flyer examples
- New product development FAQs
What is product development?
Product development is the process of conceptualizing, planning, designing and creating the products a company sells to its customers.
But what defines a product?
The goods or services a business sells are their products. In some cases, they’re physical products like consumer goods. Think: smartphone manufacturer. In other cases, the products in question aren’t the types of things you can hold in your hands. Think: app development software.
In both examples, the end result is a smartphone that runs apps — but the companies in question make very different products. Regardless, these companies will have gone through a similar product development process.
It’s important to note product development is just one step in the product lifecycle. While it’s fair to say development is the first stage of this lifecycle, it’s hardly the last. I’ll go into more detail on the product lifecycle a little later on. But first, let’s talk process.
Already have your new product? Learn about how you can use infographics to show product value.
What is the new product development process?
To succeed in the market, you have to deliver the right product, at the right time. No matter how big a brand you are, there’s always a chance your product will flop if it lacks product-market fit. Simply put, if it doesn’t solve a relevant problem for your consumers, you have yourself a lemon. (Looking at you, Google Glass.)
It goes without saying, products are the lifeblood of any company. So, it follows the new product development process (NPD) is a critical function that crosses every department in an organization.
After all, it would be hard to know what your customers want without the CS, product, sales and even marketing department. And it would be hard to know how much it’ll cost to make a new product without the operations, design and manufacturing or engineering teams.
There are many schools of thought on how to approach product development (and even business in general — more on that later). Here’s one of them:
Just so you know, some of our templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.
For most companies though, the NPD process breaks down like this:
What do you want to make, sell or provide to your customers?
Product ideas that are more specific and come from existing offerings may shorten the product development process, while ones that are new may truly be revolutionary. Remember when Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone to the world?
(Speaking of which, if you’re an Apple fan, you might be interested in this iPhone evolution infographic.)
Here I have ideas and research listed as separate steps — but the reality is they will most likely happen at the same time. Research may even come first, because part of the research process in NPD requires you to identify and understand the problem this new product will solve or the market gap it will fill.
During this phase, your team will begin the physical work of creating this new product or service offering. This may involve creating multiple prototypes or iterations.
This is when you put your new product or service offering through its paces. It can happen internally or externally — or ideally, both. Have your internal product teams test it, and offer it to focus groups of customers or potential customers for them to try out.
Using internal and external feedback, make improvements if needed. For example, your focus groups may complain about pricing; if so, go back to your market research and production costs and determine if you price your product fairly.
And now, after a lot of blood, sweat and (actual) tears, here it comes: the big, final step — the product launch.
When introducing your product to the market, make sure you consider both the short- and the long-term needs of launch-based marketing. After all, you want this product to continue being successful for years to come. But technology moves fast: if you don’t react fast enough, sooner than later, your new product will be old hat.
What are the 4 stages of the product life cycle?
I’ve touched on this a bit already, but developing a new product is just one stage of the product life cycle. Just as a baby doesn’t stay young forever, your company’s brand-new offerings will age. Here are the four stages of the product life cycle:
- Introduction: This is essentially the final step in the NPD cycle — launch. During this phase, the product is introduced to the market for the first time.
- Growth: If successful, during the growth phase, a product begins to gain steam in the market. In other words, people are buying it.
- Maturity: Depending on the product, this stage can last a few months or even years. A product that reaches maturity is one that is quite popular to the point of market saturation. While that’s good news on one hand (your product has been popular for long enough to become saturated), it also means that profit margins tend to shrink and more effort is required to maintain or grow market share. Established products like Coca-Cola have remained in the maturity phase for decades.
- Decline: Just about every product will eventually see demand for its decline. As consumer behavior changes, such as through new technologies, most products will become less necessary. When was the last time you thought about needing to buy a DVD player? Or remember Blockbuster and its failed battle against Netflix?
What are common product development strategies?
Just like the new product development process, there are many schools of thought when it comes to the best way to introduce and develop new products in an efficient and sustainable way.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but here’s a look at the most popular strategies:
Design and consulting firm IDEO uses a six-phase product design process: observation, ideation, rapid prototyping, user feedback, iteration and implementation.
IDEO’s approach is tried and true: The company developed the first computer mouse for Apple back in the 1980s.
The Booz, Allen and Hamilton (BAH) model was introduced in 1982, and it remains one of the most widely used and comprehensive. Its seven steps are new product strategy, idea generation, screening and evaluation, business analysis, development, testing and commercialization.
The stage-gate model uses a process in which stages or phases of NPD are punctuated by a go/no-go decision. Those stages are discovery, scope, business case, develop, test/validate and launch. After each stage, the company decides whether to continue investing in the product, essentially serving a gate-keeping or quality control function.
Lean Startup approach
Developed in part as a reaction to the stage-gate model, the lean startup movement focuses on fluid product iteration rather than regimented stages and steps. In product development, that means companies focus on creating a minimum viable product (MVP) during an ongoing product development process that involves a constant state of planning and analysis, design and development, and testing.
Exploratory product development model
Exploratory product development, or ExPD, is one of the most recent NPD models to emerge and gain steam. Introduced in 2015, ExPD can be an innovative alternative to traditional product development processes. Instead of a single, linear process, it breaks down into three segments — strategy, ideas and select, and explore and create.
Product roadmap examples
No matter what your company’s product development process is, keeping your team on task or conceptualizing your product design can be much easier with professional visuals.
Here are some of my favorite product roadmap examples you can use to make sure your new product development process is on-point. If you need some design guide, check out our blog on how to create product roadmaps.
This product roadmap is perfect for keeping track of tasks across departments as well as over the course of several months. It would work for just about any of the product development strategies we listed, given that it covers such a wide range of task types. However, it’s important to note that many tasks will occur at the same time as others.
The template above uses Gantt charts. Wondering how to create one? Check out this blog: Ultimate Guide to Creating a Gantt Chart. For more inspiration, check out our blog on Gantt chart examples and how to use Gantt charts to manage projects.
Keep track of your new product launch step by step with this product roadmap that can help your business make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Check out even more product roadmap examples and read our expert tips for bringing yours to life.
Make sure your teams are on task by creating product roadmaps that take both a short- and long-term view, like this product road map that covers two calendar quarters or six months total. Add or remove tasks as necessary with just a few clicks in Venngage’s drag-and-drop editor.
Add departments and tasks with just a couple of clicks to make sure that your entire team understands what is supposed to happen and when as you work to create your new product.
Companies working in lean startup or iterative product development processes could use this simple roadmap to keep track of changes and updates that launch in specific phases. This is an excellent way to help team members avoid becoming overwhelmed by the vast amount of work ahead of them.
Be sure that your product roadmap infographic clearly defines whether your product development process will involve different teams doing tasks at the same time. That way, it’s obvious to everyone that if the marketing team is working on customer outreach (as in this example), the web team should be locking up third-party integrations.
Product roadmaps don’t have to come with specific deadlines — particularly in lean startup project management or agile project management environments, it’s often necessary to shift tasks up or down the road. If that describes your company’s needs, consider a template like this.
Product flyer examples
Once you’ve conceptualized, designed and developed your new product, it’s time to make sure the market is ready for it. That means understanding your company’s offerings and what the consumer can expect. Here are a few product flyers that can help you establish your product in the marketplace.
Whether you sell goods or services, it’s important for your customers to know how much they can expect to spend. And if you do happen to sell physical products, invest in good-quality photography of those products. That’s one of the best ways to set yourself (and your new products) up for future marketing success.
On Venngage, it’s easy to swap out these photos with your product images. Drag and drop your image to Venngage, double click the image you want to change and choose the right alternative:
Let’s take a look at another product flyer template:
With a product flyer, you want to keep your photos really clear: your customers need to know exactly what they’re buying. On another note, if you’re working on a different design on Venngage and need to add some effects to your images, it’s also really simple to do so:
You can also showcase your brand through your product flyers, and it’s easy to do that using Venngage. With My Brand Kit, you can add your brand colors and logo to any of your designs in one click:
Consider using a product brochure not to sell products but to educate. This is particularly useful if you are in an industry where consumers may be confused or uneducated about the offerings available.
Product flyers aren’t just for new products; they are also useful when connected to a specific event, like a conference, season or even a holiday.
For more product flyer templates and design tips, check out this blog: 35+ Highly Shareable Product Flyer Templates & Tips
New product development FAQ
What are the 8 stages of the product development process?
The eight stages of product development include idea generation, idea screening, concept testing, business analysis, product development, test marketing, commercialization and review of market performance.
What are the 7 stages of the product development process?
Booz-Allen-Hamilton’s widely accepted product development strategy (BAH) includes seven stages — new product strategy, idea generation, screening and evaluation, business analysis, development, testing and commercialization.
What are the 6 stages of product development?
Most product development models cover six distinct phases, including the IDEO and stage-gate models, which are two of the most prominent in the world. IDEO’s model covers observation, ideation, rapid prototyping, user feedback, iteration and implementation, while stage-gate also has six steps — discovery, scope, business case, develop, test, and validate and launch.
What are the 5 stages of product development?
Depending on your industry, product development can be boiled down to just five steps: idea generation, screening, concept development, product development and rollout.
While your products may be unique, following an established product development process can help you replicate success
No matter what you sell to consumers and clients, every business needs to continue offering goods and services that customers want and will pay for.
Not every product is a revolutionary one. In fact, most of them aren’t. That’s all the more reason to make sure your organization follows an established path toward product development success.
Regardless of the journey, creating engaging, on-brand visuals can help keep your team on track throughout the process as well as keeping your customers educated about your offerings.
And remember, if you need to visualize your development roadmaps or product promotion materials, Venngage is always ready to help.