Creative Product Development and Design 101

Product design and development is a core part of the production process in any industry. One thing no company wants is to build something that is already available. So they need to always be thinking of innovative ways to differentiate themselves.

This article outlines all the core aspects of product development and design.

Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

What Is Product Development and Design?

Product design and development refers to the process of spotting an opportunity in the market. It doesn’t end there. The process also requires you to define the problem clearly and develop an appropriate solution. Subsequently, the suggested solution is validated with real users.

Some experts distinguish between product development and product design, noting that product design is a part of the larger product development process. 

Product design is about how that product is designed and built. Therefore, it is a tactic for the larger product development process. Understanding this distinction will help you make sense of the product development and design process. 

There are a few core aspects of product design and development. The objective of the product design and development process is to attain a certain goal. It should have a target audience in mind.

The target audience would be the users, and it should have a clear purpose for their needs. This may differ from why you started the product development and design process.

The Difference Between Product Development and Product Management?

Product development and product management are similar concepts that often confuse many. This section analyzes both concepts for us to understand them better.

The product management role is pivotal and involves a product’s entire life cycle. It involves every aspect of the product, including planning, production, and marketing.

Therefore, the job of a product manager or product management team includes customer and market research. This is to ensure that the product meets users’ needs. Product managers don’t focus on the product itself. Their focus is on the product roadmap.

Conversely, product development refers to all activities geared towards getting an idea from concept to the consumers. 

The product management team passes on the product specification to the product development team. The product development team works its magic and turns the specifications into a working product that meets the organization’s quality standards. 

In a nutshell, product management deals with the ‘what’ aspect of products, while product development deals with the ‘how’ aspect. The two teams collaborate to make the ideal product.

The Stages of Product Development and Design

Like every model that works, there are various processes involved in developing and designing products that work. This process varies by industry and product. However, a few steps are common to all products, irrespective of the industry. 

1. Ideation

This is the initial stage of product development. It begins with discovering and identifying a market and the product opportunity. This is where an idea is generated and brainstormed. It is really just scrapped ideas and thoughts from different perspectives. Your new product’s creative and sometimes original concept will start to take shape at the ideation.

2. Research

Your “genius” idea is often not enough to create a successful business and product. You have to conduct competitor research to understand whether others are already making that product or a similar product. 

Use the research and analysis to decide what you’ll do in the planning stage. It will help you discover the trend in your industry. Once the idea is fully figured out, you can assess the market opportunities and improve your product.

3. Planning

You begin to see your idea coming to life at the planning stage. You have done your analysis and now have a clearer picture of what you want to do. This stage allows you to map out the strategies to accomplish it. You can easily plan your product around an unsolved problem in the market. This way, you have a niche market to appeal to despite the availability of other products.

4. Prototype Manufacturing

This is the stage where a prototype is made and sent to the design and testing team for market readiness assessment. This is also the stage to get external feedback on the prototype.

The goal at this stage is to make incremental refinements to the product with constant qualitative feedback before the prototype is finalized. Once the final prototype is approved, this stage ends.

5. Design and Testing

This is the stage when the prototype goes through the rigorous phase of designing and testing. The design and testing stage helps you develop the best version of the product before launching. 

Oftentimes, companies will use a Las Vegas approach to testing and design. That is, they keep changing the prototype until they are completely happy with it. Then they will try to be first in the market and go live with that version.

6. Product Introduction and Commercialization

At this stage, you launch your product into the market. Before launching a final product, a lot of work goes into product development.

Irrespective of the product, there’s a level of hard work done behind the scene to make it a success in the market. The entire process of developing any product is known as the product development cycle.


This article explored the aim of product design and development. It also explores some key differences and methodologies between product development and product management and details the stages of product development. It opens with a strong emphasis on understanding the value of design and what that means for the product development process.

If you struggle to figure it out, remember that every product that came before yours had to overcome the same challenges. As long as you apply these steps, it sets you up for a successful final product.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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