What is the Product development life cycle?

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Every new product, whether it’s an app or a physical object, follows a process to take an idea through a complete product. This process is called the product development life cycle.

This cycle involves many departments in the company: product managers, designers, developers, researchers, and others.

Stages in Product development life cycle

There are five stages in the product development life cycle: brainstorm, define, design, test, and launch. The names can be different somewhere but the process is the same.

Five stages in Product development life cycle

It’s important to do them in order as the success of each stage depends on the previous stage’s completion.

It doesn’t guarantee that the completed stage will not be used again in the cycle. The stages in the product development life cycle are endless, the team often comes back to the previous stage during iteration after getting feedback from the users.

Let’s go through each stage in detail:

Brainstorm

The first stage of the product development life cycle is brainstorm stage. The stage at which the team starts thinking of an idea for the problem that they want to solve. Coming up with a list of user problems is a great way to start.

The brainstorming stage is a great time to check out your product’s competitors and identify if there are already similar products available in the market. You want your product to fill a gap in the market and solve a user problem.

Define

The second stage of the product development life cycle is the define stage. At this stage, the team will summarize the findings from the brainstorming stage and try to answer questions like: Who is the product for? and, What will the product do?

As the product will solve a particular user problem, hence, the team will narrow down the focus of the idea and will work on a particular user problem.

At this stage, the team will make user personas to define the ideal user of the product. Creates a problem statement to define the problems users are facing. And, create a hypothesis statement to solve the particular user problem.

Design

The third stage of the product development life cycle is design. This is the stage when the problem gets life. At this stage, UX designers develop the ideas of the product. They start by making sketches known as wireframes, then move on to creating prototypes, which are low-cost models of products that convey their functionality.

UX writers are also involved in this stage and do things like write button labels or other copies within the product wireframes and prototypes.

Test

The fourth stage of the product development life cycle is the test. As the product’s prototype is ready this is tested to get feedback and improve the design.

There can be three stages of testing depending on the company you are working for:

  1. Test the product internally — To look for technical glitches and usability problems.
  2. Test with stakeholders — To make sure the product is aligned with the company’s vision.
  3. External test with potential users — This test is the main test among all, as the product will be used by external users, and the product needs to solve their problem.

The product development life cycle isn’t a completely linear process. The team might cycle between designing and testing a few times before you are ready to launch the product!

Launch

Finally, we have arrived at the fifth and final stage of the product development life cycle: the launch stage, when the product is released into the world!

The product launch will help the company gain several important insights, like:

  • The level of market interest — is it higher or lower than the company’s research suggested.
  • The types of buyers and users signing up for the product.
  • How real users react to the product.

At this stage, the marketing team has likely been running a campaign to generate interest, the support team might get ready to help new users learn how the product works.

These are the five stages of the product development life cycle, Now the team gathers the insights and improves the product.

Improving the product

The launch stage might be the last stage for a physical product. But for a digital product like a website or an app, launching the product to a wider audience provides an opportunity to improve the user experience.

The team will take the user data and repeat several of the stages above. Hence, the product development life cycle does not end once the product hits the market.

Conclusion

The product development life cycle is an endless five-stage process (brainstorm, define, design, test, and launch) that a team uses to take an idea to a final product launch.

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Mohsin Khan

Mohsin Khan

Everything about business, sales, and marketing | I learn and share content that helps run your business effectively | Open to chat: mohsin@closebig.net