The 5 Stages Of Digital Product Development: Ultimate Guide


Digital products are a big part of today’s world. We use them every day, just think about your favorite apps, podcasts, e-books, and online courses. Creating every single one of this final product undergoes a specific set of steps or the digital product development process.

This process is more than just coding and creating the actual product. It will also require market research, user testing, getting user feedback, and more.

In this article, we will discuss in detail the 5 key stages of digital product development and how can each step be done successfully.

Digital Product Development Stages

Before we begin with the actual stages, keep in mind that even after finishing the product development process, continuous improvement will be needed.

It is because creating a digital product that your target audience will love requires constant adaptation to their feedback and market trends.

With that said, let’s start with the first stage.

1. Discovery & Research

The initial stages of creating digital products are the foundation that will dictate whether it will succeed or will be a lesson for the future.

Yes, a lesson not a failure.

Your product will only be a failure if you stop improving it, otherwise, those products that did not succeed will just give you the experience on how to build the next one.

Digital product development needs two things to be done before moving on to the design stage.

  • Market Research – Market analysis is very important as this will tell what the product should be based on several factors such as your competition, existing products, the gap in the market, and the demand for your product.

  • User Personas – Developing user personas allows your product to be more specific and tailored to the ones who need it, such as your target audience based on your market research.

Before even beginning your product development, the digital product strategy should come first, and being able to create it is one of the key benefits of researching your market.

Remember a successful launch depends on a successful start.

2. Ideation & Design

This is one of the hardest stages for the mind of entrepreneurs or development teams, whichever group you belong to.

Why? Because you have to separate dreams from reality.

More often than not, we get ideas that are just not possible to create digital products for.

So a great idea-generation process involves being innovative but realistic.

Here are some of the processes in the ideation stage:

  • Brainstorming – If you successfully did your research then this shouldn’t be that hard, what will be difficult is as I said, the separation of what’s possible and what’s not.

  • Wireframing – This process refers to generating the design based on the research with intricate details. It should offer a clear visual direction for digital product development.

  • Prototyping – Developing digital products will need multiple trials and errors, this part will have you create prototypes that can look and feel exactly like the final product but isn’t.

  • User Interface (UI)Design – This process ensures that the digital product is user-friendly. Because it does not matter if your product solves your target audience’s problem if it gave them another one in learning how to use it.

  • Visual Design – Humans are visual creatures. We develop certain impressions in our minds based on what we see.

  • Feedback – You will need some help from either some of your target audience or some professionals that could give you honest feedback about the product.

3. Development

First, we need to remember that this is for digital product development. This means that it might include some programming whether it is hands-on for you or with the use of some software development tools.

Execution is the most important part of this stage. The planning part is done, now it is time to act upon it.

The development process includes:

  • Minimum viable product or MVP – It refers to the digital product that has all the core functionalities and can solve the main problems it was meant to help. It is necessary to do this part early on, as this will help make the final launch of the product have a higher chance of success.

  • Front-end Development – Anything your eyes can see in the product is part of the front-end. If a user saw some parts of the back-end in the digital product then it was poorly made. Earlier it was mentioned that the design is vital, now creating the product as close to how it was designed is even more crucial.

  • Back-end Development – Behind every great product is a great back-end system that ensures everything runs smoothly and as planned.

  • Product Development Team – The development team’s time to shine is at this stage. They will be needed in all steps but from here on out, the digital product can not be successful without the help of the development team.

4. Testing

The testing phase is the stage between digital product development and deployment.

It is a process that should include the principles of agile development, which in simple terms is an iterative process of achieving the best possible product for the users.

It includes continuous improvement from feedback from the users or focus groups and makes the development process as flexible and adaptable as possible, resulting in high-quality assurance.

Testing the digital product is not a one-time process instead it should follow the agile methodology.

5. Launch & Maintenance

If you decided to pursue your dreams of being an entrepreneur, or even if you are part of the product management and development team, the most exciting part will be the launch of your product.

This will also be the scariest moment because product development takes a lot of time and effort. Not succeeding in your initial launch will take a toll on your mindset and will make you overthink about the product being a business failure.

But always remember that good things take time, and it might not be a success right now, but through continuous improvement and maintenance, you can achieve the digital transformation that your customers will love and appreciate.

This digital product development guide discusses 5 stages of the digital product development process, but in reality, you will have more than 5 but should not be fewer than these 5.

This is because each and every one of these stages is necessary for your business’s product to succeed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of a digital product?

A digital product is any software-like solution to a specific problem that a customer has. An example of digital products are online courses, mobile apps, e-books, and software tools.

Why is digital product development important?

Digital product development is important because it allows businesses to meet the modern demands of customer expectations. It can reach a global audience and can easily make more profit for the business than a physical product.

Why digital products are better than physical ones?

Digital products are better than physical ones because businesses can make them once and then distribute them to millions of people in any part of the world. This will make the digital product cheaper to create, as well as easier to update and change based on user feedback.

Final Thoughts

In the modern era, one of the best business goals that you can have is to create a successful digital product.

It is like writing a book, it needs to be well-thought and it might need a couple of years to develop, but after finishing, it will always be an asset for you.

You can sell it whenever and wherever you want, as well as improve and change it however it is you deemed necessary.

Looking ahead, I can confidently say that digital products are the future of businesses.

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