Principles of Great Product Design

Humayun Rashid



May 3, 2022

May 22, 2023

min read

What defines great product design and why is it essential discipline for companies to adopt?

Digital product design is increasingly becoming a must-have discipline among high-growth startups and enterprises to help push towards growth and capture more market share. In fact, product design and development are poised to become a nearly $18 billion industry by 2028. But what exactly defines great digital product design, and why is it essential for companies to adopt it? 

Product design is the planning, strategy, process, and design of a digital product (popularized in the software development process) intended for end users. Product design is how and why we design the tools and software we use today. It helped propel companies like Slack, Linear, and Notion to compete in laggard industries by introducing new and innovative tools for customers to use daily. 

Product design is equal parts art, science, and process. It involves an organizational shift from business-centric problem solving to user-centered design. Traditionally, solving a business problem by finding a solution is too linear of an approach and fails to consider the end user's needs. Employing ‘design thinking’ eliminates the guesswork by embedding user motivations into the design process. 

"Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” David Kelley & Tim Brown, Founders of IDEO

Design thinking is a popular design philosophy adopted into the product design process where we think of the end-to-end user experience of a digital product, not just the look and feel. Design thinking takes a human-level approach to design. As a designer within an organization, we must ask ourselves who we are designing this product for and, most importantly, why. 

  1. Who are we solving this problem for? 
  2. Is this a problem worth solving, to begin with?
  3. What technologies can we use to help build this product? 
  4. What do we want to achieve with this product? 
  5. How will we define the success of the business with this product?

What are foundational steps in a solutions-based design process needed to create delightful digital products? For starters, each organization, small and large, have a design process variation but typically follows a similar structure. 

1. User Empathy: Learning about the motivations behind your targeted audience. Learn as much about their intentions, behaviors, and interests as it guides your product assumptions. 

2. Product Definition: Creating a hypothesis and point of view around the insights collected from users, paired with your data-backed perspective. 

3. Ideation: Creating not only one but multiple solutions. Often this stage is an interactive phase across multi-disciplinary teams to create low fidelity and highly interactive solutions. 

4. Interactive Prototypes: Taking a step further, creating functioning prototypes, and testing with end users. It’s important because your testing product assumptions by having users interact with your product while providing vital feedback. This product feedback loop is critical for shipping software people want to use. 

5. Iterate & Test: Collect feedback, iterate on your product, and continue to refine until you have a solid product that can be shipped. Design is often an iterative process because it involves user feedback.

But what about polished design? Aesthetics are just as crucial because they delight and ‘wow’ users interacting with beautiful software, but that’s often the result of a meticulously thought out process to plan, ideate, design, and ship. It’s the result of design thinking. 

Digital product design allows organizations to create products and software customers want to use. It’s a meticulously crafted design process that will enable agencies to collaborate with clients and deliver stellar work. Organizations must continue to invest in great product design to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive landscape. 

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