A concept is the foundation of every successful product. This is where the process of creating a product that truly meets customer needs begins. Let’s take a closer look at what a product concept is, what elements it consists of, and what tools and techniques can help build it. Read on.
Crafting a winning product concept – table of contents:
What is a product concept?
A product concept is a set of ideas and assumptions behind a new product. This is where the vision of what the product is supposed to achieve, what problems it is meant to solve, and what value it is expected to deliver to its users takes shape. For example, Uber revolutionized transportation by identifying a problem with cab availability and creating a platform to connect drivers with passengers.
Another example is a product concept for a language learning app, which encompasses the idea of interactive lessons that adapt to the user’s level and help them achieve fluency in speaking. But what role does a concept play in the digital product development process?
Why is a product concept important?
In the digital age, developing a product concept is particularly important. Digital products, just like applications and online platforms, must be flexible and scalable.
For example, the product concept for a financial management app must take into account that users may want to use it on different devices, in different places, and at different times. Therefore, creating a product concept requires considering several key elements:
- Value proposition – this is what your product offers to its users. For example, the value proposition of a language learning app may be the opportunity to learn anywhere and anytime.
- Market segmentation – identifying the target audience for the product. For language learning apps, the market segment could be working adults who want to learn a new language to improve their job prospects.
- Competitor analysis – learning what other products are available in the market, and how your product will differ from them. A language learning app, for example, can stand out from the competition with its unique game-based teaching method.
- Business assumptions – specifying how the product will contribute to achieving a company’s business goals. A language learning app, for example, can generate revenue by selling premium subscriptions.
These elements form the cornerstone of a product concept and help define how the product will look and work. But how to create such a concept?
The process of creating a product concept
The process of creating a product concept is a sequence of steps that lead from the initial idea to the finished concept. Here they are:
- Identifying customer needs – for example, small entrepreneurs need software that will let them manage projects, company finances, and recruitment processes.
- Generating ideas – creating various ideas as to how the product can meet these needs. This could include ideas for different features, such as using Kanban boards or file sharing.
- Evaluating and selecting ideas – choosing the best ideas for further development. At this stage, for example, you can decide which features will be the most valuable to users.
- Finalizing the concept – deciding what features will be included in the first version of the product, what it will look like, and how it will work.
This process helps to make sure that your product concept is well thought out and has the potential for success in the market. But what tools and techniques, can help you develop a product concept?
Tools and techniques for product development
Crafting a product concept is a process that requires creativity, analysis, and strategic thinking. Fortunately, there are many tools and techniques that can help in this process.
Heuristic Ideation Technique
The Heuristic Ideation Technique (HIT) was developed by Edward Tauber. This is a technique that allows you to quickly explore multiple combinations of attributes and regularly look for new product ideas. The technique uses a grid where you place various product attributes and features, and then analyze how they can be combined in innovative ways.
For example, when developing a concept for a time-tracking tool, you can use the HIT grid to explore various combinations of attributes, such as “notifications” and “performance analysis.” This could help you create a function that not only reminds users of upcoming tasks but also analyzes their performance and suggests what times of the day they are most productive. This feature could help them optimize their schedules and increase productivity, adding value to the app.
Ideation techniques are various methods of generating new ideas. One of the popular ones is “brainstorming,” which involves free thinking and open discussion to explore various possibilities and perspectives.
Another technique is Edward de Bono’s “6 thinking hats,” which encourages looking at a problem from different angles. It is a creative thinking and problem-solving technique that involves taking different viewpoints depending on the color of the hat.When it comes to the creation of a product concept, this method can help analyze user needs, functionality, risks, benefits, and product innovation. De Bono suggests looking at them from the following perspectives:
- White hat – collecting and presenting objective data on the market, competition, and technology trends,
- Red hat – expressing your own feelings and intuitions about the product, its attractiveness, and usefulness,
- Black hat – identifying potential problems, risks, and weaknesses of the product, its defects, and limitations,
- Yellow hat – highlighting the positive aspects of the product, its advantages, and strengths, opportunities for development and improvement,
- Green hat – generating ideas for new features, solutions, and product improvements, seeking alternatives and inspiration,
- Blue hat – overseeing the process of product development, setting goals, timelines, and evaluation criteria, summarizing results, and drawing conclusions.
For example, when creating a concept for a mobile app, ideation techniques may help generate ideas for unique features that solve users’ specific problems.
Prototyping is the process of creating an initial version of the product that can be used for testing concepts and gathering feedback. It is extremely important in the context of digital products because it allows quick iterations and product customization.
For example, if you’re developing a task management application, you could create a simple prototype that allows users to add tasks and assign them to selected people, only to gather feedback on extra features they need.
Using these tools and techniques can significantly speed up the creation of a product concept and help create a product that truly addresses market needs. They also help you involve your team in generating innovative ideas and validate them through direct testing.
Common challenges and pitfalls of product development
When developing a product concept, it is worth relying on data and contact with future users. The most common problem is a poor understanding of the customer. This is also the most dangerous of the pitfalls because if you don’t know what your users need, your product simply can’t meet their expectations. For instance, if you develop a language-learning app, but don’t understand the way your students learn, you may create a product that is useless to them.
Another problem is having too many ideas without a clear vision. If you have several ideas but lack a clear vision, it can be difficult to decide which concepts to develop. In such a case, tools like the HIT grid can help you evaluate and select them.
A lack of resources is a problem faced by most budding entrepreneurs. Due to insufficient funding, it is difficult for them to implement all ideas. In such a case, it is crucial to focus on the most important features, gradually add new solutions, and actively look for external sources of funding.
Creating a strong product concept is critical to the success of any digital product. The process involves understanding market needs, generating ideas, evaluating and selecting them, and then finalizing the concept. There are many tools and techniques that can help you do this, such as the HIT grid, ideation techniques, and prototyping. However, various challenges can arise in the meantime, such as a lack of understanding of customer needs, and no clear vision or resources.
Recognizing and understanding these challenges can help you avoid pitfalls and create an effective product concept. Finally, it’s worth remembering that even the best product concept needs to be constantly tested, evaluated, and adjusted to the changing market and user needs.
- Intro to product management
- What is the role of a product manager?
- Why is product lifecycle management important?
- How to build an efficient product strategy?
- OKRs vs SMART goals. Which framework drives better results?
- How to define a value proposition?
- Identifying customer needs and market segmentation
- Crafting a winning product concept. Techniques and steps
- Gaining an edge with an effective product roadmap
- Prototyping your digital product
- How to build an MVP?
- MVP vs MMP vs MMF. Key milestones in product development
- Mastering hypothesis testing
- Proven methods for improving product quality management
- Strategies and tactics for a successful product launch
- Driving profitability through product optimization
- Measuring product success
- How to price a product? The most popular pricing strategies
- The future of product design. Top trends and predictions
- When to retire a product? Key factors influencing EOL decisions
- Agile in product management
- Scrum and Kanban in product management.
- What is lean product management?
- Jobs to be Done. Creating products that customers truly need
- What is growth hacking?
- What is data-driven product management?
- A/B testing in product management
- Useful product management templates. Where to find them?
- Strategyzer tools in product management
- 5 useful product management tools
- How to create and manage product documentation?
- 6 essential tools for product managers
- How to use AI in product management