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Plan your product development process successfully!

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At JetRuby, we believe that any product consists of two main components: the business model and the technical core. We love both of them and assist entrepreneurs in their needs and businesses. That’s why below, we would like to describe the importance of the Design and Discovery phase in every detail and how much of an impact it can do on a startup product development process.

What is the Design and Discovery Phase?

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The Design and Discovery Phase is the very initial and most collaborative part of the product development process. This phase’s primary goal is to analyze such essential things as business goals, competition on the market, user groups and success paths, business model, product evolution stages. And create such artifacts as detailed project specifications, visual mockup, clickable prototype, software architecture – everything that requires precision in your startup launch. Eventually, this phase’s value is defined by the cost of avoided mistakes due to the consistent product development strategy and definition process in the initial phase.

The cost of such mistakes can be fatal, as it could be seen in the Shoes of Prey startup story, where a company was too focused on the current fashion trends that it completely forgot to do the market research. Their website concentrated too much on shoe customization, which wasn’t so attractive to the customers, what they wanted instead – an inspiration by the design and demonstration on precisely what they will wear. It’s a simple thing. However, as you can see, the cost of a failure can be both an unpredictable and a prominent factor as well.

What does it consist of?

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The three core domains of any product development process at JetRuby are the essential components that describe a Design and Discovery Phase: Product Business Analysis, Project Planning, and Visual Presentation. Each of them corresponds to the given categories of the Design and Discovery phase.

The “Product Business Analysis” concentrates on analyzing a client’s business idea, core goals identification, and visualization of future app logic. It is drastically important for any rising startup or business to have a solid ground for a product that the potential customer will be willing to buy since more than 70% of them will die out without it. It consists of the following product development steps:

  • Identify Business Goals
  • Business Model Canvas
  • Market research
  • Product Vision Document
  • Product Evolution Canvas
  • User Story Map
  • Wireframes

The “Project Planning” focuses on the significant preparations for the future launch of the project. This phase takes a visual presentation and business logic approach. By correctly estimating your business idea’s structure and architecture, one can produce a project launch plan. There are typically five iterations to consider:

  • App Graphic Design
  • Clickable Prototype
  • App Business Logic Scheme
  • App Architecture
  • Project Plan

The “Visual Presentation” is mostly focused on the marketing aspects and promoting the product benefits while testing their customers’ potential marketing niche. Obviously, there is no product yet. However, it is important to check things out on the market for the arriving product development process and test its target audience. Its main elements are:

  • Branding Elements
  • Online Landing
  • Marketing Campaign

Now let’s review each of the product development phases in more detail, see the kind of deliverables they provide and the benefits one nourishes from them.

Client Interview

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Before initiating coordination and project implementation, the JetRuby team will first clarify all of the client’s core and fundamental questions. Some of them include future product outlook, client’s business goals, expectations, and potential customers. It is done to further understand what topic should be discussed at the first meeting and the client’s motivation and objectives of the intended business. What indeed contributes to this process is that this step may look very typical and primitive. However, what you might not notice at first glance is that the majority of entrepreneurs may not question the same questions that we do at JetRuby. Perhaps these kinds of questionnaire lists may not be super unpredictable, but they weigh a great thing and impact the startup product’s success and survival rate.

Business Canvas Model

Once clarified, a kick-off meeting is launched to make a Business Canvas Model together with the client since it will help to understand how the product will function as a whole business unit. Based on the previous questions and meeting discussions, all critical data will be put into the Business Canvas Model to correctly identify the key customers, partners, channels, resources, value prepositions, revenue, and startup cost structures. The outcome of this step is the project’s key features and value propositions.

Competitors analysis

The next step is to prepare simple market research with the SWOT analysis to compare its competitors’ current product opportunities. Our team will identify main direct and indirect competitors and product analogs while breaking down all strengths and weak points. Here the primary deliverable identifies key opportunities that each competitor product provides in each relevant sector (trust, support, and influence). If there are no opportunities in some sectors, then an open one will be provided for your product development process.

Product Evolution Canvas

In Product Evolution Canvas, we break down the product launch plan into three waves which are:

  1. MVP (app release focused on the base functionalities with a base customer base).
  2. Core Product (every functionality required to complete your product).
  3. Full-Scale Product (various directions of product development process or scaling).

Each wave has its own business goals and is divided into the corresponding stages of new product development. We break down the product functionalities in separate steps and arrange them in priority order. Depending on the proposed functionality and how close it will bring us to the business goal, our team can approximately identify the section it should belong to.

Product Vision document

Produced visual analysis (which was visualized in Miro Board) and a generated list of business tasks combined in the Product Vision Document, which will serve as a base for further work on MVP and initial Design and Discovery Phase conclusions previously identified.

User Story Map

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After constructing a single document with tasks and goals, we’ll prepare the user story map. It will visually represent the interaction between the product and its potential users based on previously identified business goals.

User stories will also define the types of users who will use the application—thus giving a full list of potential customers with their own goals, methods of usages, revenues, etc. Besides, our team will describe how exactly each type of user will interact with our product. By examining each user action and asking relevant questions to put up the product interaction process’s chronicle, our team makes a detailed scenario for every involved user step. This entire process will be going through during the interview with our client.

Building Wireframes

Once the user stories are finished, our leading UX/UI Designer is getting his hands on wireframes. They are a sketchy markdown of how the future app will look like. Each wireframe will be attached to the corresponding user’s action inside the user story map. Not only will it allow our client to interact with a future creation, but it will serve him as a UX prototype of a future product.

Once both the user map and wireframes are complete, they will combine in one file, where each user iteration and interaction is in thorough detail. Our client receives a neatly packed document covering all key product opportunities by summarising all of the previous stages of new product development. To break it down, it is data that will tell you what kind of benefits and outcomes your future product can gain.

Future Visual Concept

Our main designer will start his work on the 2 to 3 main pages of the application. This is made to fully understand how the concept of a future product will look like. This UI aims to make the user’s interaction simple and efficient in terms of accomplishing user goals. Once every user action will be clarified, and further enhancements will be identified.

Interactive Prototype

The goal of a prototype is to answer critical questions by interacting and observing the app’s logic. A simple prototype will tell you more than you could imagine. It’ll help you find the right solution and not lose your budget. “Invision” or “Moqups” are the tools that deliver an interactive prototype.

Visualization of any idea helps convey your message better than just words. Once you get a released prototype and customer feedback before development starts, it’ll save time on any additional revisions. The prototype also helps avoid miscommunication when everyone is talking about the same thing but does not understand it.

Describing a Business Logic

Following up, our Design and Discovery Phase team will focus on constructing a business product logic. Most of the previous steps focused on the user’s interaction with the product (user stories, wireframes). However, this one revolves around the app’s logic underneath, something transparent for a typical user. For example, our team will divide it into several parts for a clearer perception of a bigger product concept.

Designing an architecture

JetRuby’s app architecture designer is joining to build a theoretical design of the app’s infrastructure. He will focus mostly on the future structure and the accomplishment method for the chosen product. Our architecture can even estimate the approximate costs of the servers required to host the desired application. However, such confidence depends on the stated requirements and the heaviness of the application’s data load.

Project Planning

Finally, our project manager collects all of the available information and prepares a product launch plan. It will include the scope of allocated work in MVP, the approximate budget, deadlines, and further product development plan.

Producing Branding Elements

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Here our design and marketing teams prepare and produce a whole pack of brand attributes for the rising client’s product development process (aka MVP).

Based on the wishes and requirements and market trend analysis, questionnaires, and identified needs of the targeted audience, a mockup of the brand elements (name, logo, typography, color) is getting ready for approval or changes client’s feedback.

This task usually takes around 1 to 2 weeks, involving the potential target audience and future customers’ pool. After the product branding, the next step is to create landing preparations.

Preparing a landing

The initial landing preparations mostly concentrate on the client’s impressions and analysis of the given functional requirements. Next is the construction of the landing skeleton and its relevant, significant blocks. The most prominent ones are the heading (main UVP), product description, company benefits, trustful blocks, and a CTA. This step takes around two weeks. As a result, a client will get a Tilda landing with some optional analytics setting (if requested).

Ending with the marketing campaign

Lastly, our team is preparing various marketing tools for pre-launch testing and analysis for the business infrastructure, where the client is actively building his product.

Various advertising channels (PPC) are being chosen during this step depending on the target audience’s main interests. Several test ads run to test the constructed brand theory and Design and Discovery Phase concept. Overall, it takes around 1-3 weeks since the marketing results depend on the time and effort put in during the ad campaigns.

The first results of a test marketing phase will be a small base of potential customers and the configured advertisement channels on the target audience, and the price of user attraction.

The Conclusion

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There is no doubt that each of the stated product development steps may start in parallel with the other ones or even require less time in total since it all depends on the given requirements and project deadlines. We transfer and share access to every piece of information directly to our client via Google Documents and Slack.

After the Design and Discovery Phase, we prepare our partner for the next big step – the product development process (aka MVP). This is where the real action starts: setting the implementation tasks, scaling the team, and lots of other useful product development steps. However, this is the topic for another article in another galaxy.


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Mark Polskii
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