Developing a new product from 0-100: Concept Phase (0-20)


Written by

Luke Medlock

How to create product

We've designed and help produce 100+ products that exist out in the world today. When we say we've seen almost every which way teams go down their product development process, we mean it.  

Ensure you have cross functional teams representing all aspects of product delivery, and create your own product development plan. To help, we've broken up the core product development stages; Concept, Design, Development, Testing, Post-Launch.

01: Identify Target Market Needs

Understand the gaps and demands in the market for the idea you’ve got. For a new idea to gain a market share, it needs to solve a real problem in a unique way. To achieve success, your idea shouldn't merely replicate existing ones, it must provide genuine value to an individual.

Tip: We use tools like Google Trends and social media trackers to gauge what potential customers are looking for. X (twitter) is a great place to find peoples pain points with existing products or a lack of solutions around certain topics. Simply search your competitors names into the explore and see what people are saying - they tend to be more vocal about the cons than the pros.

02: Conduct Market Research

Collect data about market trends, customer preferences, and industry dynamics. When we start working with a new client, we always begin with a Brand Sprint.

The Brand Sprint consists of 6 exercises. These exercises help determine how you can position your marketing strategy. This applies to both product development and branding.

Tip: Combine both qualitative (interviews, focus groups) and quantitative (surveys, analytics) research methods. Interviewers can often inject bias into interviews, and interviewees often come with predetermined bias on the subject matter. In fact, simply putting someone in an interview situation can produce different results to that of a normal conversation. Pairing them with market analytics is how you can find the real pieces of gold that get products to market successfully.

03: Define Target Audience

Identify and describe the ideal customers for your product.

Tip: Creating a few detailed customer personas can keep product development teams focused. It instantly transforms the users from mere numerical data into actual individuals. Personas help the team to understand the audience's needs, behaviours, and pain points. Here's a free generator to get you started.

04: Analyse Competitors

Study competitors' products, strengths, and weaknesses. Conducting business analysis will give you a strong competitive advantage over other players in the market.

Tip: Use the SWOT method to compare your product or idea with competitors and find ways to stand out in the market. Finding real value bringing features & solutions is what could set you apart early doors.

05: Gather User Feedback

Collect insights directly from potential users regarding their needs and preferences. This is crucial in creating a truly user centred product.

Tip: Create concept screens of your product '|
to bring the vision to life. Seeing is believing and a picture is worth a thousand words, especially in product design. Gather feedback from a variety of potential users through surveys and interviews to help with your creative process.

06: Brainstorm Product Ideas

Generate a wide range of product ideas through creative sessions.

Tip: Use brainstorming techniques like mind mapping and the SCAMPER method to explore different ideas. The goal here is to diverge - try to create as many solutions as possible to exhaust the potential options.

07: How suitable is the idea?

Assess how viable each idea based on technical, financial, and market criteria. New product development ideas are cheap to pivot away from at this stage.

Tip: Score ideas based on factors like cost, time, market potential, and technically how feasible it is. We use Figma to quickly work through concepts we’ve made and give them a score. Every designer or team member should share their ideas with the group to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Then, as a whole product development team, vote on your favourites. Make it anonymous to prevent bias from people following the loudest voice in the room.

08: Select the Most Promising Ideas

Choose a couple of ideas that best meets the market needs criteria and are achievable as a team.

Tip: Use decision matrices or weighted scoring models to objectively select the best idea. We score based on:

How difficult it will be to execute the idea with the resources you have? How much of a positive impact  will this have on our users? How will developing this feature affect the delivery timeline?

09: Define Product Vision

Create a high-level overview of what the product aims to achieve and its purpose.

Tip: Write a clear and concise product vision statement that can guide your team throughout development so that everyone is working to the same goal. This will form the base for your product roadmap.

Develop a preliminary version of your product idea. This isn't your final product, but a visual to get better user feedback.

Tip: We Use Figma to create 2-3 screens, then turn these screens into a prototype. This will allow you to see the concept and get customer feedback. You’ll be amazed at the improvement since step 05, it should resonates with users far better.

11: Conduct Stakeholder Meetings

Engage with stakeholders to align on the product vision and gather input.

Tip: Communicating with stakeholders is crucial. If your a B2B product, bring in some of those target businesses into the process.

Stakeholders love to be part of the process and often have good insights. Include them in any prototype testing. However, remember you are the decision makers in the room, don’t let them highjack the process.

12: Create a Value Proposition

Define the unique value your product offers to users.

Tip: We recommend using the Value Proposition Canvas (VPC) at this stage. It ensures the product aligns with user needs and sets the product apart from competitors. We’ve seen a lot of VPCs in our time, the best ones can write their values in 10 words without using the word ‘and’.

13: Draft a Business Model

By this point you should have a good understanding of how the product is going to make money. Outlining how your product will generate revenue and sustain itself will help form your KPIs and keep energy high.

Tip: Utilise the Business Model Canvas to map out key aspects of your business model. Never rely solely on 3rd party integrations to monetise your product - they could remove their solutions tomorrow.

14: Outline Key Features

Identify the main features of your product. From point 8, you should have a good amount of ideas for features that will benefit your users. Take the list, and rank it to give your new product development process a solid action plan.

Tip: Use the MoSCoW method (Must have, Should have, Could have, Won't have) to list the product features in priority order.

15: Conduct SWOT Analysis

Evaluate the product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Tip: This should happen once a sprint to ensure your SWOT contains the latest, relevant information. Market changes can include new competitors and regulations.

16: Identify Risks and Mitigation Strategies

Determine potential risks and plan how to address them.

Tip: Use a risk matrix to categorise risks by their impact and likelihood. Then, develop plans to mitigate risks in high-risk areas. For example, how reliant are you on 3rd party integrations? Could an established competitor simply copy your product?

17: Define Success Metrics

Establish measurable goals for the product’s success.

Tip: Use SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to define clear success metrics. These metrics can tie into the KPIs we mentioned in point 13, and can help drive motivation and keep the team focussed.

18: Create a pitch

Summarise the product concept, vision, and key elements in a document. If you are not actively looking to gain investment, act like you are. The goal is to be concise when explaining your vision to others. You can use the pitch to test marketing strategies and pivot based on feedback.

Tip: We've produced countless pitch decks for our clients - it's part of how we help startups land the investment they’re looking for. We design them in Figma so we can have fully usable prototypes baked into the pitch screen. When listing the products values, keep them short and punchy. Long winded explanations of a value doesn’t exude confidence.

19: Validate Concept with Stakeholders

Get approval and buy-in from key stakeholders on the concept. If their approval isn't forth coming, determine their concerns ready for step 20.

Tip: Occasionally, stakeholders base their feedback on personal preference rather than market fit. Include the market research and data collected previously to show that the design decisions effectively solve the user's problems.

20: Refine Concept Based on Feedback

Make necessary adjustments to the concept based on stakeholder input.

Tip: It is important to not be overly precious about the product's design. At this stage, produce designs quickly and discard them if they aren't working. Keep a log of all feedback received and categorise it by priority to address the most critical points.

The takeaway

The main theme of the concept stage is to determine how viable the product is going to be in the target market. By conducting adequate research upfront, your product development strategy can thrive. Without it, you will have drained your resources, and the finished product won't resonate with your target market.

Now you're ready to move onto the Design Phase before moving onto the concept Development and Testing.