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Product designers (nowadays intended as digital product designers, while physical product designers are more commonly called industrial designers) are some of the most sought-after professionals by tech companies today. But, despite the popularity, there is a lot of confusion around what this role is about, and I believe it’s impossible to give an exact definition, considering that every company has slightly different responsibilities and requirements attached to this position.
I heard a lot of people saying product designer is just a new more trendy and siliconvalleyish way of calling a UX designer. I do not agree. I think a product designer is a more horizontal position compared to a UX designer. A product designer should take care of, or at least be involved in, all the steps of the creation of a digital product.
Even though this is a transdisciplinary role, it doesn’t mean that a product designer should be able to do everything alone. It should know at least a little bit of everything though.
Here is an example of the skillset of a hypothetic product designer:
The height of each bar can be different for every individual, of course.
Let’s take a look at what each one of those represents and why it is important.
Design is not art. Ultimately design has to be sold. To do so, the first step in each project is research. Research on the market, on competitors, on target users and the feasibility of the project, you can have the craziest ideas, but in the end, you’ll have to stick to a certain budget.
To come up with concepts that make sense to pursue, it’s important to know what the market is, what are the chances of your product to succeed. You can even consider doing a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).
Strategy should be one of the core skills of a product designer.
Even though in the chart above UX is just one of the columns, it actually spills over many others. Usability, accessibility, information architecture, good wireframing are the basics of any project. After researching the market and the target users, in this phase the product designer defines personas, users journeys, understand pain points and find opportunities.
A product designer should have a good understanding of how HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) works. Some possible questions to answer: what gesture could trigger this action? Is this going to be a modal, a drawer or something else? Is this contextual menu triggered by a double-tap or a long press? Etc.
The aesthetic-usability effect is the “tendency to perceive attractive products as more usable. People tend to believe that things that look better will work better — even if they aren’t actually more effective or efficient”.
In Italy, we say “anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte”, which is hard to translate literally, but it basically means “looks matter”.
Text can be both in the UI (UX writing) and in the content (Copywriting). A text can be the label of an icon, a CTA inside a button or anywhere it’s needed to help users through a particular flow. As much as UI, motion and sounds it helps to set the tone of the product.
It’s not enough for things to look good, they also need to move in the right way. Movement is important not only to please the eye and delight users, but also to provide feedback, to clarify hierarchy, to enhance interactions and make them memorable.
Also, microinteractions (for example animated icons) are a very important component of today’s products.
This often goes together with motion. Sounds can also provide feedback and they can set the mood of the product, along with UI. UI, motion, and sound should work well together in perfect harmony.
Product designers don’t need to be musicians or sound designers, but they should be able to understand where a sound is needed and what kind of sound fits best in that particular case.
I wrote a full article on this topic. To sum it up: no, you don’t need to be able to write code, but having a basic understanding of how code works can be REALLY helpful, to understand the feasibility of a project and to talk with developers and give them the right feedback.
On this topic, I’m reading right now a very interesting book by John Maeda, called “How to speak machine”.
I won’t annoy you with the usual “content is king” (Bill Gates) thing, but yea, of course, depending on the kind of product, content plays a key role. The product designer should also understand and define not only what’s the best way to present content inside the app/website, but also what this content is and how to design it.
The life of a product heavily depends on marketing (among other things). Marketing can be the tool to drive the critical mass that makes the difference between a success and a failure. This should start to tickle the interest of the target users even before the product is out in the wild, and then push it as high as possible, the sky’s the limit. If a product is not marketable, there must be something fundamentally wrong in its concept and/or execution.
ASO (App Store Optimization) is the app-world version of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Grasping at least the basics of these could make a huge difference. ASO is not just about keywords and description, but also sizzle reel, icon and screenshots.
User testing can come into play way before the product is out. It can be used to test a particular feature or interaction, a component and more. Depending on the methodology you could have or not user testing, maybe you release and MVP and test with real users a limited version of your app on which you then iterate future releases. In this case it’s important to be able to read and understand analytics, find what is working and what is not based on data and charts and come up with improvements.
The product designer shouldn’t be a one-man-band taking care of all the above alone, but she/he should be the conductor of an orchestra of specialists.
She/he can take care of one or more aspects of the app creation, if she/he has the right skill set to do so, but has to get the support of a team for all the rest.
To complete the chart above, the relationship could something like this, with each vertical role covering where the product designer alone can’t reach with her/his skills:
As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s hard to give an exact definition as the role has a very blurred perimeter, varying quite a bit from company to company, also depending on how the team is structured. But I believe the product designer should, in any case, be a horizontal figure with a wide array of skills and possibly 1 or 2 vertical ones, in what is often defined as a T-shaped role.
There is a myriad of methods out there to choose from when it comes to the product design process and development. In this article, we would like to give an overview of the steps and frameworks we consider essential and provide a toolbox you can pick ideas from when designing a Minimum Viable Product, which is the first version of a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, create value and provide feedback for future development.
The ideal product design process can vary depending on different factors, such as the project scope, the size of the company, budget, deadlines — just to mention a few. In a good design process, the business requirements meet the user needs, which are satisfied within the feasible technical possibilities.
Even UX studio’s product designers don’t have just one, crystal clear and always followable guide for design processes. We all see the necessity of getting together from time to time and share our experience and knowledge acquired from different projects and clients with each other, so we can improve our processes effectively, meeting the requirements and demands of the market.
We encourage an Agile style of work, working in design sprints, but we are flexible. Should you need help with product design, fill out our contact form and let’s discuss how we can help you.
The Double Diamond is a product design process with four phases: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. The product design process starts with a “diverging phase” of the diamond, a problem, and topic discovery. We do not define anything yet, but we step back a little and open our minds to new insights.
The second part of the diamond — Develop and Deliver — mainly feeds from the product discovery findings. However, the Discover-Develop tracks can also run in simultaneously and support and feed into one another at regular intervals, so this is not a linear process.
Product discovery is the preliminary phase of every human-centred product design process, and its purpose is to base the product idea on real demand.
However, carrying out research is important not just at the beginning, but during the project as well, whenever there are too many open questions and uncertainties. Validating ideas helps us to avoid burning money and waste time.
We need to reach out to both the stakeholders and the users to explore the problem (and opportunity) space and find the real pain points we want solutions for.
There are two frequently used product discovery activities we’ll be looking into a bit more:
Meet the client, understand the current state of the project and the additional knowledge needed.
Workshop techniques are great for acquiring domain knowledge in a topic and get acquainted with the stakeholders. To create the first draft of our roadmap, we start every project with a kick-off workshop that usually takes about one to two days. At this time, we get to know the company, its processes, and roles and gather all information we can about the project.
If the client already has some quantitative and qualitative data about the market, client segmentation, competitors, target group, buyer personas, we go through them, make a common understanding of the objectives and facts, and build assumptions and hypotheses.
The more variety of expertise involved in the workshops, the more insights we can utilize from different stakeholders of the company. It’s important to understand experiences on previous solutions and key business objectives (such as KPIs, success criteria).
Kick-off workshop techniques frequently used by us:
/Note: At this point, most of the workshop deliverables are assumptive, and that’s fine because we’re going to research what we need to validate or change.
At the end of the kick-off workshops, we should have a clear overview of what we don’t know but should do so we can create a research plan to kickstart our discovery.
If you’d like to know more about how to organize a kick-off workshop, check out this article.
There are a couple of research methods out there; however, in the discovery phase of a product design process, we don’t aim to evaluate possible solutions yet as that comes later with usability tests. Still, we may already have assumptions to validate, and we certainly need to have a well-defined topic and a target group that is interested in our topic. At the same time, it’s crucial to keep an open mind to be able to discover entirely new aspects and problems of our audience.
Of course, the research method that requires the least experience and professional knowledge is desk research, available for anyone who has a computer with internet access, an account for social platforms and some time to dig up the pain-points of online communities, find opinions and reviews shared in social platforms, forums, mailing lists, or blog comments.
Diary study can also be useful in some cases, or, if you want to gather data on a larger scale, you can use online surveys — preferably with a mixture of open-ended and closed questions — that can be used with qualitative insights from other methods.
Research methods we frequently use:
This step is about making sense of the data, synthesizing them, choosing one main goal to solve, figuring out the “How” and the “What”.
By the end of the discovery phase, we are likely to have enough insight to synthesize our findings, refine our previous assumptive deliverables or create new ones by user analysis, define the core problem we want to solve, build themes, and deduce potential fields of action.
There are many synthesizing activities to use, such as:
These exercises can be used at various points of the product design process; at the very beginning, in an assumptive way, it can help with synthesizing the research data and define the project scope, but it can also be applied when ideating about solutions. The when and how really depends on the team, project, and available insights. In the following section, we focus on the methods we use the most.
These are fictional (yet realistic) representatives, archetypes of our key user groups with certain goals and characteristics. We use personas to help us understand and map out the main segments of our users, with their different goals, and motivations. We can also use them to help us empathize with them in order to make a more suitable product.
At UX Studio, we do create assumptive, theoretical persona mock-ups at kick-off meetings. If provided, we can use already existing research data (e.g., survey results, built buyer personas, or other related market research findings) to start off with, but at this point in the design process, our personas should be validated and based on real user research data.
How we create personas:
There are many contradictory opinions out there about whether it’s good to give names and faces to personas, or if demographic data is relevant if it needs to be printed or should include an empathy map, and so on. This is how we usually do it:
There are plenty of methods for synthesizing information, but we only dig deeper into the ones we use most frequently. You can find a few related, downloadable templates here.
JTBD is another framework we can use to find out more about the users’ needs and preferences. It is absolutely compatible with user personas, so often used together.
The personas focus more on the users’ behavior and attitude, thus helps with empathizing and segmenting the different types of users, while the JTBD places a more significant emphasis on features, aims to discover the purpose why people ‘hire’ a product in order to solve a specific problem and fulfill a need.
A famous JTBD example is about McDonalds milkshake. When the company wanted to increase the profit on their milkshake product, they first started interviews with representatives of their persona groups, the customer types they knew to be the main milkshake consumers.
The researchers tested the temperature, the viscosity, and the sweetness of the milkshake with this group, but they couldn’t find out what the problem was and how they should improve the product.
So they tried another approach; started observing and interviewing consumers onsite, in McDonald’s restaurants. It turned out that people bought milkshakes mainly to keep them full till lunch and entertained them for the whole journey of driving to work.
As a result, McDonald’s made the shake thicker to last longer while commuting and moved the milkshake machine from behind the counter to the front, where the customers could easily and rapidly buy a milkshake with a prepaid card when rushing to work, avoiding the queues. Solving the real job-to-be-done, resulted in a sevenfold increase in the sales of the milkshake.
“How Might We”
The HMW exercise is a great way to narrow down problems and to discover possible opportunity areas.
We are not looking for exact executions on solutions here yet, but rather brainstorm, explore questionable areas of one core challenge while keeping an open mindset for innovative thinking.
For this to work, first, we need a clear vision or goal, a Point-Of-View statement that is made based on a deeper user need discovery. The POW should be human-centred, neither too narrow, to sustain creative freedom when brainstorming, nor too broad, so it remains manageable.
For defining the POW statement, your previously made personas and jobs-to-be-done (as a result of your user’s need discovery) come in handy. By synthesizing the essential needs to fulfill, you can make a template like this to create your statement:
[User . . . (descriptive)] needs [Need . . . (verb)] because [Insight . . . (compelling)]
Once you have the POW statement, you are ready to form short questions that can launch brainstorming on actionable ideas. For example:
How might we…?
In What Ways Might We….?
What’s stopping us from…?
In what ways could we…?
What would happen if…?
Then you may ask follow-up questions on the previous questions to examine the angles a bit deeper.
By completing HMW sessions, we can get one step closer to forming ideas about exact solutions and executing the best solution.
Look and feel, mood boards, branding
Of course, at this point, we’re far from creating high-fidelity prototypes and design systems, but it’s important to set a couple of broad, basic directions to have a general idea of where we’re heading and keep nurturing the creative imagination as we progress in the design process.
Depending on how many designers working on a project, you can share the workload and either work on the same design or split up the tasks and progress simultaneously (e.g., one does the prototyping and the other building the design system and hi-fi part).
At this point, we should have a condensed brief of research findings, a strategy, and a clear idea about what problem we want to solve.
The tips and techniques mentioned here can be done or can at least be started way before this step; remember, this is not a linear process and you may use these techniques in a different order at different times of the project timeline.
The developing/ideation phase begins when we have a good understanding of the project goals, and we narrowed down what we want to solve first.
(Note: by development, we don’t mean any code-related development yet).
If there are still open questions about what features we should start with, the Kano model and Impact-Effort Matrix could serve us well.
User journeys/customer journeys
Both customer journeys and user journeys are tools for mapping out the flows users go through, using a service or an application with one specific task to carry out.
Customer journeys/experience maps encounter the online and offline aspects of the users’ flow, providing a more holistic view of the process. As the output, the customer journey diagram basically lays out a big table. The columns of the table represent different phases or steps a customer goes through.
These can be unique in every project, but most customer journeys contain three phases: before, during, and after the usage of our product.
These can be unique in every project, but most customer journeys contain three phases: before, during and after the usage of our product.
As opposed to customer journeys, user journeys analyze a smaller part of the journey, focusing only on what happens in the application; for example, during a sign-up process. At UX Studio, we mainly use user journeys, but for longer projects with a bigger scope, especially if there is already existing user data about the customers and there is a journey that goes beyond application usage (e.g., arriving at the airport and using a ticket machine software), the customer journey is the preferred tool.
How we do user journeys:
User story creation is a good way to define features with stakeholders. What we want to accomplish in the product, why, and as what kind of user. It helps us stay focused on what features are necessary and what could lead to a “feature creep.”
As a sales agent, I want to turn more leads into customers so I can increase my income.
And a more detailed version of the example above:
As a sales agent, I want to keep track of unprocessed hot leads so I can make sure I don’t miss out on an ‘easy’ deal.
We can do it in several ways and styles, if we do it with developers, it may become more technical and scrum-oriented.
Building the IA, sketching and wireframing
Building an Information Architecture is basically the blueprint of the design structure, the foundation of our first wireframes. IA is formed by creating a hierarchy and categorization of the information that results in a coherent, meaningful, navigable system. How we sort out the features, functions, and available data in our product will have a great impact on the user experience.
Our best intentions with features can diminish if users don’t find them.
Card sorting is a great technique to validate our IA. You can do it on paper, but there are online tools that you can use, such as Optimal Workshop.
You may start sketching way earlier, right at the beginning when the first problems gain their shapes. Sketching is great not only to serve as the base when building something but also to help understand a problem and share ideas within the team.
Sketching on paper, where complex interfaces and functions of the software don’t limit or distract us, is an effective and rapid way to explore ideas and spot any design problems early on.
We don’t need to be skillful sketch artists or graphic designers who can draw and paint photo-realistically. The point here is not to create a refined artifact, but to focus on single ideas, flows, and possible layouts, and use simple placeholder boxes for images and text. It’s about exploring ideas of execution, so no need to worry about the copy yet.
It’s very recommended to showcase these first sketches and wireframes to the developers and other team members at an early stage because they can assist us with information on what is feasible technically, which saves us from unnecessary rework.
A blank paper and a pencil are all you need, but if you’d like some guidance, you can download sketch mockup sheets from here.
The output, a wireframe, is basically the skeleton of our upcoming prototypes — a barebone, static structure that will soon evolve to a refined design. Wireframes can be made on digital platforms as well using tools such as Axure, Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma, or even Photoshop.
At this point, you should have the concept, the “what to do”, and the strategy of how to prioritize. We have the definition of our MVP, the core features, the core problem we want to solely focus on.
If you are searching for the most suitable UX agency, contact us, and let’s see how our UX experts can help you with your current challenge.
Prototype, test, iterate, implement.
This phase is all about doing the right thing in the right way, reaching our goal, refining our MVP, and implementing the solutions.
Making our ideas tangible with quick prototypes and test them out as soon as you can save a ton of time and resources. For the sake of definition, what we call a prototype here is a modest-looking clickable digital product that resembles the features we aim to develop, but in a simplified way.
Paper prototypes exist too, but we prefer the freedom and opportunities only digital solutions can provide. The goal here is to find out the usability issues before starting the detailed designs to avoid burning time and doing reworks.
How we build prototypes:
Create the first protos as soon as you can and evaluate them for usability tests. Refine your prototype iteratively after every usability test until you’re confident that you ruled out every major usability risk. (And of course, later on, continue usability testing before and during every new feature.)
Now that you have the base of a usable product, it’s time to make the whole thing sexy by adding the visual attributes, colors, icons, shadows, and images and refine the look and feel. The product’s design language has to be in harmony with the target audience and should be aligned with the brand’s vision. When testing the high-fidelity prototypes, visual elements are also important, and it leads to creating a stable, harmonized design system that you can rely on.
Quick tips for hi-fi prototypes:
Ideating and prototyping should be an iterated process, such as continuous discovery with user research beyond MVPs.
Launching the MVP product doesn’t mean the job is done, and the product design process is over. Testing and designing should be an ongoing, iterative process that is the key to improve the product and bring it to success.
Follow along with the metrics; get client feedback, use analytic tools and heatmaps (such as Google Analytics, Countly, Hotjar), do A/B testing, and measure the success of your choices.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this collection of ideas and steps are not set in stone, simply aimed to raise awareness of the available tools and methods to start off a product design process. The whole process becomes super iterative when working in a dynamic environment, such as agile.
The main takeaways perhaps are to make your process user-centered, apply design thinking, and execute it as a non-linear, iterated process. Do user research whenever you can to design with the people, not just for them.
UX studio has successfully handled 250+ collaborations with clients worldwide.
Is there anything we can do for you at this moment? Get in touch with us, and let’s discuss your current challenges.
Our experts would be happy to assist with the UX strategy, product and user research, and UX/UI design.
The internet is no place for a slow website. The average Google user (i.e. your customers) just won’t put up with websites that take too long to load.
Naturally, this sort of behavior is what led the search engine to include site speed as a ranking factor ever since 2010.
Of course, Google has always been good at the “carrot and stick” approach. In this case, the carrot was some simple encouragement to work on site speed (“Hey, we really want websites to be a better experience for users and you should totally work on that.), which then turned into a stick when things weren’t changing fast enough (Your site’s still too slow! Looks like new penalties for you!).
This ranking factor then also started to have an impact on the mobile algorithm, too.
And yet, despite the seven years or so that site speed has officially been a ranking factor, many websites still struggle with it.
The thing is, there are a lot of factors that act as a type of speedbump on your path to internet success. And a lot of those things are either built into the structure of the website, part of a flashy design trend, or added in as an app or widget.
It’s hard for websites to give up the flashy bits that seem so modern and, well, flashy. And it’s hard to want to dive into all that old coding or wade through all the parts of the structure that could be slowing a site down.
But there are some simple things that anyone can do to spot the major speedbumps that are in your way and clean some of them up.
There are a lot of things that could be weighing down your site, including:
Site speed matters because Google wants to appease its searchers. And searchers don’t want to wait.
Google ain’t gonna help ya out if they think you can’t deliver the answers that people want as quickly as possible. They want their users to “Trust In The Algorithm,” and that means the algorithm has to deliver relevant content along with the best user experience.
A fast-loading page delivers a better user experience. It helps visitors see what you have to offer, makes it easy for them to complete order forms, and lets them navigate right over to the next possible purchase.
In other words, site speed is an integral part of user experience.
There have been studies over the years that show a definite correlation between site speed and increased conversions and returns. In one case, Walmart found that they could get a 2% increase in conversions for every 1 second of site speed improvement.
Now, 1 second may not seem like a lot, but it actually when you’re talking about load times that are 4 or 5 seconds in the first place, you’re actually talking about a 25% increase. So how about this: the study also found that for every 100 milliseconds of improvement, revenues grew by up to 1%.
But what happens if we look at this from the other side. What would happen to your revenues for every 1 second of increased load time? Can you expect conversions to drop by that much?
It’s better if you never have to face this problem yourself, so let’s just focus on keeping websites running as fast and smoothly as possible.
Keeping the site speed as fast as possible can seem a little overwhelming at first. There are just so many variables that could be contributing to the problem.
Where would you start? What elements have the largest impact on the load speed? What can be changed to get the most immediate impact? What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? (11 meters per second, but it must be one of “those” days if I’m already defaulting to Monty Python quotes….)
The simple answer is to start by going straight to the people who are judging your site. They have a very clear list of how they’ll be judging you in this respect.
You can start by heading over to PageSpeed Insights and have Google analyze your site speed. This will give you a good overview of your current situation and where you can make improvements.
Of course, this might be filled with a more technical jargon that you really want to deal with, but you can check out this page to learn more about the specifics of Google’s Speed and Usability Rules.
For now, we’ll just take a quick look at them all so you have a basic overview on the elements that contribute to site speed.
Avoid landing page redirects – A redirect adds additional request-response cycles, which is just adding more work before a page can be displayed.
Enable compression on your website resources – You can reduce the size of the transferred data by up to 90%.
Find ways to improve server response time – Your server response time should be less than 200ms.
Take advantage of browser caching – Some resources can be cached by the browser to load previously downloaded resources from the local disc instead of the network.
Optimize your images – Optimized images have reduced their file size without impacting the quality to save many bytes of data.
Optimize CSS and HTML coding – External stylesheets have to be downloaded and processed, which can extend the time it takes to render the page.
Prioritize your visible content – If many trips to the network are required to render the things that appear above the fold, it can cause a problem.
Use asynchronous scripts – Asynchronous scripts load more quickly, which means users don’t have to wait for a script to finish loading before the page fully renders.
There are a wide range of tools available that can help you deal with many of these things.
Avoid plugins when possible – This has become more important with the trend towards mobile, since many of these plugins lead to hangs, crashes, and other problems. There are a lot of native web technologies that can do the same things these days.
Configure the viewport – It’s important to specify a viewport that adapts to different devices. This will make sure mobile devices render correctly.
Size your content to the viewport – If your content isn’t working in concert with the viewport, the images and text may be bigger than the display. This really negatively impacts the mobile experience.
Size tap targets appropriately – If users are going to tap buttons or images on the site, then make sure that they’re sized to make it easy.
Use legible font sizes – If the font is too small to be readable, you are making it too hard to consume. A base size of 16 CSS pixels is recommended.
There are a lot of things that can get in the way of a great website experience, and if you have one or more of these things slowing down your site, it might be time to re-evaluate the user experience and see if you can’t smooth out one or two of these speed bumps.
Contrary to what many people think, graphic design isn’t a dying industry. Looking closely, however, it’s easy to see why some people would believe so. From the field being saturated to the advent of free and user-friendly graphic design software, it’s clear why some have given up on graphic design.
Is graphic design dead? The answer is a resounding NO. Recent studies conducted by IBISWorld show that in 2019 alone, the industry generated a revenue of $15 billion with an annual growth rate of 3.5%. It is expected to grow further at a rate of 2.7% to become a $14.8 billion-dollar-strong industry.
Penji is a living proof that graphic design is alive and kicking. We’ve helped thousands of businesses with all their graphic design needs. If you’re still in doubt, read on to learn why graphic design isn’t dead and is here to stay.
It may come as a surprise to you that there are people who think that graphic design is already dead. Especially for the graphic designers themselves who have experienced tight competition, it’s understandably so. As long as there is access to cheap computers and free design software, fake graphic designers will proliferate. It is sometimes overtaking the jobs of qualified ones.
Also, websites that offer to create a logo for you for just five dollars, and other similar gimmicks, give the impression that graphic design is dead. With these channels, you’re sure to get cheap graphic design, nothing else. For your business to stand out, a generic logo or website from a template just won’t cut it.
A few business owners are also to blame for graphic design’s perceived death. Some entrepreneurs think that graphic design is a one-time thing. After the website, logo, and letterhead have been designed, it’s time to let go of the designer. Later, we’ll discuss why this shouldn’t be the case.
Any seasoned entrepreneur can tell you that graphic design is an essential part of business. But factors such as limited finances can make these business owners forego their graphic designers. And some think that after establishing their brand identities, there is no longer a need for a designer.
Graphic designing for your business is a continuous endeavor; here’s why:
Your brand identity is your main point of communication with your customers. Entrusting the continuity of the scheme to someone who doesn’t understand graphic design can be a significant blunder. Your visual identification deserves to keep its integrity, and only a professional can help you achieve this.
Cleveland Cavaliers hired an external graphic designer for their fan engagement platform. The brand identity, as you can see from the photo below, shows that it remained intact and recognizable.
Create smart, effective campaigns efficientlyMeet your conversion goals using visuals that stand outI need this!‹›
Great design inspires. Your customers, as well as employees, can benefit from this graphic design advantage. Excellent visual design can attract customers and encourage your employees to promote your brand.
A good graphic designer can prepare your business for the ever-changing digital world. Technology is continually changing, and your brand has to keep up. Good design can ensure that your website and other design materials can be viewed on multiple devices and platforms.
The Firefox logo had been through many redesigns in its history. This image shows the transition from detailed design to something more streamlined. The logo was simplified to fit beyond the normal website browser.
Graphic design can also become stagnant, and a professional designer can help maintain the freshness. You’ll gain new perspectives from someone outside of your business and provide you insights you may have never seen before. A good graphic designer will work with you to create new ideas that will keep your business on its feet.
Advancements in technology will make us think that AI will replace most of the work humans do. This may be so, but specific industries that require creativity will never succumb. You may have the most exciting website in your niche, but without innovation and creativity, soon enough, it’ll become boring and stale.
A professional graphic designer can help you stand out from the crowd. The WordPress templates shown below serve a purpose, and sometimes you’ll find a website design gem through a template. But don’t be surprised if you see some other websites to have that similar look as yours. Your company is unique, and its overall design should show how one-of-a-kind you are.
Business owners have a lot on their hands. If you leave the design work to a qualified graphic designer, you’ll be free from the burden of getting the design right. You’ll have more time and energy to focus on what matters most in your business.
Every aspect of your business will always require graphic design. And not just a one-size-fits-all plan, but a quality graphic design that’s uniquely yours. Whether it’s your website, promotional paraphernalia, corporate branding, web and print design, it has to include graphic design as an essential component.
In this fast-paced world we live in, is graphic design dead? Not only is it alive and well, but it’s also here to stay for good. Graphic designers are integral parts of a business and will contribute to a company’s success. Graphic design has become an indispensable asset and investment for a business.
Great graphic design is a business investment that will reap lots of benefits for your company. If you think that finding the right graphic designer is a difficult task, Penji can help you. We have vetted designers that can provide you with all the graphic design you’ll need.
For a monthly fixed price of as low as $369, you can have all the design, plus all the revisions you need. We’ll always make sure that you get the designs you love.
The only thing is that you’ve never formulated a social media strategy for your company before. Sure, your business has a Facebook and Twitter account that it occasionally posts on with an interesting industry article or to get the word out about a promotion, but that’s about the extent of it.
You hear how your company needs to be present on social media, but you aren’t seeing the results that are everyone keeps claiming are yours for the taking.
Effectively posting on social media requires a well-thought-out strategy that must be continually tweaked and re-implemented. The occasional posting about company news or promotions will no longer cut it.
How do you start a social media strategy? There are so many social media channels out there, which ones should you post on? What kind of content should you post to get the most engagement? Should you pay to promote your posts? Do you know where to look to see how well everything is performing?
Before you get overwhelmed, here is a guide to get you started on the right path of a successful social media strategy for your business:
Before you start a campaign in any business, you need to have goals and objectives in place to assess progress and know whether you’ve achieved success. A social media strategy is no different. If you don’t have any goals or objectives written out, you won’t know how your campaign is performing. These provide the foundation of your blueprint for your strategy.
Every subsequent course of action within the strategy is aimed at meeting or exceeding these goals and objectives.
With goals and objectives, you can quickly see when and where your social media campaign is going awry and make immediate changes to put it back on course.
When creating goals and objectives, it the S.M.A.R.T method is a good starting point. According to this method, the goals and objectives are to be specific (S), measurable (M), attainable (A), relevant (R) and time-bound (T).
After creating the goals and objectives for your campaign, you should look at where your current strategy stands.
What social media platforms is your company currently posting on? What kind of material is being posted? How much or little engagement is there? When do you post? How often do you post?
It helps to create a spreadsheet to document your answers to the above questions. Use this spreadsheet and compare it against your strategy’s goals and objectives. Are there things you’re already doing well? What needs changing in order for your goals and objectives need to be met?
Besides looking at the health of your current social media channels, be sure to completely fill out your company’s social media profiles, with a clear, identifiable picture and keywords. Completed social media profiles make your brand easier to find by consumers and it adds to your brand’s credibility and authority.
Maybe your company is posting on the wrong social media channels, or posting the wrong type of content, or is currently not on another social network it could leverage for increased attention. Maybe your posts are going out at the wrong time.
It can be tempting to be on as many social media networks as possible. The downside of this is that you will wear yourself out, waste valuable time, and produce hurried, boring bulk postings.
Social Media Strategy 2.jpgYou need to do some research on your industry, your desired audience, and even your competitors. Where are your ideal audience members most active? When are they most likely to engage? What interests them and what messaging catches their attention?
There are multiple social networks that allow you to gain insights into these questions. Facebook, for example, allows users to target specific audiences, see the interactions on their posts, the best and worst time for post engagement as well as demographics of those that interact with the posts.
In terms of scheduling posts, there are automation tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite that allow you to sync and schedule posts on multiple social networks in one place.
Observing what your competitors are doing and how well they’re faring on social media can give you tips and tricks on what to try out and what to avoid when formulating and implementing your social media campaign.
You can be on every social media network and still not get the engagement and conversions you’re looking for because your content is bland, sales, useless and impersonal.
You won’t know what to write without first identifying your ideal audience and social media networks. When coming up with content, you want to not only catch people’s attention, but you want to make your brand stand out as an authoritative and trustworthy source of information in your industry.
As you do this, it’s important to design your content to take advantage of each individual platform. Twitter, for instance, only allows for 140 characters and utilizes hashtags. Instagram, and Pinterest utilize images. Facebook utilizes text, images and videos. YouTube utilizes videos.
Your content needs to match the format of the platform, be interesting, and be useful. It should not come off as impersonal or condescending. Have your content make your brand appear as a person, not an organization.
Like putting together a social media audit spreadsheet, and using scheduling tools for posts, creating an editorial calendar can help guide you as to what you write. With an editorial calendar, you’ll know what you’re going to write about and have details
Once you research your audience, craft your content and schedule the posts on the appropriate social networks, you may be tempted to sit back and relax.
If you put a lot of time, resources and energy into a social media strategy, you want to make sure the ROI is worth it. Otherwise y, u’ll remain stuck and stagnant in your efforts.
As with any aspects of internet marketing, things in social media change constantly.
If you post a Facebook post at 2 pm one week and get a lot of engagement can turn into an ignored post the next week. Consumers also get bored seeing the same content all the time.
Just doing the occasional posting on a few social media channels will not result in a successful social strategy.
A well-performing social strategy begins with goals and objectives. You need to see where your current strategy is, research the best social media channels and your target customers and create high-quality, useful and interesting content.
At the heart of it, digital design is any design made to be interacted with on a digital device. While that might seem simple—and self-explanatory—the definition of digital design does little to capture the depth of what it actually accomplishes.
There are an overwhelming number of digital devices these days, and for each of those, an exponential amount of use cases that design must consider. Understanding the various shapes digital design can take as well as the purposes each one serves is essential if you want to achieve the best result, whether it’s for a specific project or for your career overall.
You may be planning to focus on one type of digital design (or a digital design position), only to discover that your needs or abilities may be better suited for another.
As broad a field as it is, digital design can be broken down into a handful of categories, each with specific benefits. We’re here to walk you through the many incarnations of digital design and to point you in the direction of a winning interactive product.
Digital design is a type of visual communication that presents information or a product or service through a digital interface. Put simply, it’s graphic design made specifically to be used on computers.
This encompasses more than simply viewing graphic design on a screen. Any document these days can be scanned and uploaded to a computer, but digital designs are crafted specifically for devices, taking into account factors like user experience, interactivity, differences in screen size and more. In short, they are often designed to be used rather than read.
Graphic design is for print products and digital design is for digital content. This is, of course, a generalization. These days the realms of print and digital overlap more often than not. Many digital designs rely on skills from the graphic designer’s playbook, such as brand implementation and typographical layout. Graphic design projects, meanwhile, commonly have to account for digital distribution in addition to print. And to make matters more confusing, “graphic design” is commonly used as a catch-all term for every type of visual communication.
An app like this design by Infr. is an example of digital design
Product packaging like this design by Luz Viera is an example of graphic design
At the end of the day, a designer is often expected to have skills in both graphic and digital design no matter which one they specialize in. The difference comes down to the medium (print or digital) in which viewers will most commonly encounter the design product. Digital designs must take into account user interaction whereas graphic designs are designed for static visual impact.
Digital designs require code to be functional and traditional graphic designs require paper and ink to be printed. Just as graphic design projects have a separate process for printing and distribution, digital designs have a separate process for coding, which is called development.
Digital designers make decisions on the visual direction of the product, and what they deliver to the client is typically an offline mockup (whether through Photoshop or a prototyping tool like Figma). Developers then use coding language to turn this mockup into a working digital design, like a website or newsletter.
While digital designers do sometimes offer development services (especially on the front-end), design and development are different disciplines that require different skillsets. When commissioning a digital design, keep in mind that you will likely need to hire both a designer and a developer to get a functional final product.
Digital design is a vast category encompassing a wide variety of digital interfaces, each with their own uses. To get a better idea of which one is the best match for you, let’s go over some of the most common types of digital designs.
Web design is the most popular incarnation of digital design: a website is about as common for businesses these days as a logo. Websites act as hubs for a topic or service, incorporating many branching pages, and are used for information, business and commerce, entertainment and much more.
Learn how to create web design here.
Landing page design is a subset of web design, but it is more focused towards marketing purposes. Whereas a business’s website will act as the central channel for all things related to that business, a landing page is a single web page devoted to a specific product/service and usually culminates in a call-to-action. Often businesses will use a different landing page for each of their products/services and digital designers must ensure there is cohesion between all of them.
Check out this article for some inspiring landing page design ideas.
App designs often resemble web pages, but they are designed to perform a specific function. Whether that function is shopping, scheduling, messaging or playing music, apps are essentially digital tools for users. Though they are commonly implemented on mobile devices, apps can be desktop-based as well.
Learn how to design an app here.
App icons are buttons users press to launch an app. They act as both an advertisement for the app (within the app store) and as branding. Though they are related to the app design, the icon is important enough and different enough in its goals and construction that often it requires a its own designer/design process, similar to a logo design.
Check out our guide to app icon design.
Infographics are data on a subject presented with engaging graphics. Though infographics can be either print or digital, digital versions take advantage of animation and motion graphics to tell a story with information. Digital infographics are great for creating shareable content that entertains and informs readers about a brand or a topic related to the brand.
Learn more about infographics here.
Emails are used by businesses for newsletters and marketing promotions, and email designs create cohesive branding across a company’s communications in the same way that printed letterheads do. A great email design also increases reader retention by visually engaging recipients all the way to the bottom of the email.
Take a look at this article for some email design inspiration.
Banner ads are small advertisements which are showcased on web pages where a brand has purchased advertising space. They function similarly to billboards and print ads in that they are designed to increase brand awareness and sell a product, but they are interactive, taking users who click on them to a landing page with more detailed information about the product.
Check out these banner ad design tips.
Social media images include avatars, cover images and posted content for everything from Twitter to company blogs. Though photography is a common type of social media image, digital designers will often repurpose branding such as logos to create custom social media images for companies.
Ebooks stand for electronic books, and brands often use them to share downloadable booklets with their customers. As is the case with traditional printed books, ebook designs encompass the cover and the interior typesetting.
Powerpoint designs are branded templates that companies use for all of their presentation needs. This might include sharing business plans and updates internally with employees or crafting pitch decks to sell their company or services to third parties.
3D designs are realistic, three-dimensional images made on a computer. While they can be used for entertainment (often in the video game and animated film industry), brands use 3D designs to render a product or create mockups of planned construction projects.
When looking to hire a digital designer, it is important to keep in mind that the disciplines within the broad field of digital design are just as varied as the designer themselves, and you’ll want to make sure you approach the right designer for your project.
You can start by searching for a designer on a freelancing platform like 99designs or a portfolio site like Behance or Dribbble. When reviewing a designer’s portfolio, pay attention to the kind of projects they’ve worked on and how they brand themselves to determine whether they offer the kind of services you need.
Although many designers do work on a variety of different projects in different mediums, here is a brief rundown on the specific disciplines within digital design.
Even though graphic design, as we discussed previously, often refers to print, it is also a general term for many design practices, especially in the realm of branding. When it comes to digital design, a graphic designer can help with art direction, typography, color, and graphic assets such as icons or illustrations.
A web designer specializes in the layout and visual design of websites, landing pages, and any other related pages, including tablet and mobile versions. Though they often deliver static mockup files for clients to hand off to their developers, some also offer front-end development services (using formatting languages like HTML and CSS to create static web pages).
An app designer specializes in the visual design of mobile apps, usually working closely with (or incorporating the skills of) a UX designer. App designers will also deliver offline mockup files, and a developer will be needed to make the app functional.
A UX (user experience) designer combines user research and standard usability principles to create the framework for how a user will interact with a digital design. Their deliverables come in the forms of wireframes or prototypes that web or app designers will base their layouts and aesthetic choices around.
A UI (user interface) designer specializes in the design of the actual buttons, text fields and other interactive elements of a digital design. Their goal is to create a pleasing and consistent look for the interface, and they usually deliver style guides and template sheets for all interactive components.
Product designers are closely related to UX designers (for some companies, the terms can be interchangeable), but they make decisions about how a digital design product should work and what services it should offer, beyond how the user experiences it.
An interaction designer designs each moment-to-moment interaction a user experiences with a digital design. Whenever a user clicks on something or scrolls down a page, they receive some form of visual feedback (usually a short animation) that an interaction designer has made.
An animator designs custom animations as needed in a digital design. In contrast to an interaction designer, these animations are often more robust, such as a hand-drawn animated scene that plays in a website header or an animated version of the logo that plays during a loading screen.
Choosing the right project and the right digital designer is a great start, but you’ve still got to make it through the entire design process. This is the final test of your knowledge—you not only understand what digital design is all about, but can actually recognize quality digital design.
There are many ways a digital design can go wrong, and though these can vary depending on the type of project, here are some general tips on making your digital design a success. A great digital design is…
A good digital design should aspire to be more than just good looking (though you’ll want to make sure it’s at least that). It should be backed by solid planning and piles of data. Do research beforehand to understand what your potential users’ pain points are, the kinds of apps they typically interact with and the kind of functionality that is known to put them off.
Your marketing team or a third party consultant can help with discovery, market research and user testing throughout your project. You should have a clear idea of the problem you are setting out to solve and of how exactly your digital design will solve it even if you haven’t begun the design itself yet.
The lack of physical boundaries is one of the best things about digital designs. They can scroll infinitely and can blow up or shrink down on the fly. But this does not mean that there are no rules. A good digital design will plan for a variety of screen sizes and adhere to fundamental design principles, such as visual hierarchy and use of white space, to make your content easy to understand.
Remember that digital designs are more commonly used than passively read, and usability demands ease-of-use. You’ll also want to take into account accessibility, which is not only humane but often legally required.
Users can engage with digital designs more actively than they can with analogue media. But that doesn’t mean that they will. A good digital design will encourage users to interact and participate. This means that your page will be optimized so that users will want to click and scroll through; they will quickly understand the value of inputting their information (when asked to do so) and will generally feel inspired to like or comment on your content. Even though your digital design may present static information, a good digital design will take full advantage of its presence on interactive media.
Your digital design is finished and has gone live—you can finally go on that trip to the Bahamas and rest easy! Not so fast … you’re not quite finished. One of the best and worst things about digital designs is that they can change, and you need to be ready to change with them.
Good digital designs will undergo regular testing and maintenance after launch to ensure users are encountering no issues. Even with the most scrupulous planning and research, unforeseen problems will arise, but the good news is those problems are opportunities to expand your services beyond what you had originally anticipated. Your digital design may never truly be finished, but that’s exactly what makes the digital medium great.
Digital design is a nebulous category covering many different types of designs and designers, but there is undeniable power in the digital sphere. Digital designs excel at breaking the boundaries of space and inviting active user engagement. With so many possibilities at hand in the realm of digital design, it’s hard to imagine why you would design for any other medium. If starting a digital design project still seems daunting, turn to a great designer to arrange those 1’s and 0’s into a work of art.
In this article, we will see an outline of the Types of Computer Software. The software can be considered as the language of the computer. The software can be considered as a set of instructions, programs that are used to execute any particular task. The user cannot touch the software but can see through the GUI.
The software can be considered as the variable part of the system while the hardware can be considered as an invariable part of the computer. And as there are many types of human language so is with the computer language also. There are different types of computer languages present in the market. There are three types of software systems, application, and programming language software.
Below are the types of Computer Software:
As discussed the software is a program, script which executes on the computer system. And as we discussed there are broadly three types of software i.e. system software, application software, and programming language software. Each type of software has its function and runs on the computer system.
Technology advances and the rapid growth of customer touchpoints mean that customer experience strategy will change and become more complex. Tactics and approaches that worked last year, might not deliver the same outcomes today.
For users in 2021, a seamless and intuitive experience on the website or app is a must and one of the key indicators in their willingness to recommend a certain product.
Here’s a short test that will help you find out whether your product provides a good customer experience.
If the answer to all the questions is “yes”, you are on the right track. But it’s important, to be honest with yourself.
Yes, customer experience is still king, but it’s evolving. Consider this:
According to a recent survey, business professionals name CX their number one priority for the next 5 years.
Customer Experience is more important than ever to consumers. Thus, customer expectations are rising; they want every interaction with a product to be a great one. With the pandemic and its impact, customers’ priorities and expectations have changed. They want a seamless and consistent experience across a variety of communication channels and a highly-personalized customer service.
Let’s make it clear the good and bad of customer experience in 2021:
So, what’s happening in customer experience in 2021 and beyond? Let’s find out.
Unfortunately, many companies still believe that creating a quality product equals providing an exceptional customer experience. That’s not always the case. You can create a bug-free product, using the latest technologies, but fail to manage a particular communication channel and as a result, make it harder for customers to communicate with your brand. In this case, we’re talking about digital customer experience or DX. While CX is how your customers perceive all of their interactions with your business, DX is how they interact with your brand on digital channels (websites, apps, and emails). It’s worth noting that we no longer live in a world where customers separate their experiences in digital and non-digital terms. They want to easily access products in any possible and most convenient way.
So, let’s take a look at a few steps that will help you to improve customer experience:
Ok, let’s admit it: we can’t live without our smartphones anymore. Gone are the days when the desktop and PCs were the most popular ways to access the web.
It’s easy to see how much you use your device daily for your business and personal tasks. So imagine how your customers are using them to find businesses like yours. If you’re not using a mobile-first approach for your marketing and customer service, then you’re seriously falling behind.
In fact, 57% of customers won’t recommend a product with a poorly designed website on mobile. In addition, if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, 50% of customers will abandon it, even if they like the business.
Mobile-first is often discussed in the context of a future requirement. But the future is already here. Think about how much you use your smartphone for your business or personal tasks. So do your users. As a customer, would you rather have them try to zoom the content on your smartphone screen or have a seamless mobile-first experience?
Mobile-first is often considered to be a design-focused project. But it goes far beyond it. You need to consider everything that can enhance the mobile experience and improve customer experience.
Even Google ranks websites higher when they take into account a mobile-first. So if you’re still not adapting the mobile approach, you can count on it being lower to rank.
The CX landscape is getting more competitive. To stay relevant and ahead of the competition, many companies embrace technologies like AI, chatbots/voice assistants, VR/AR to enhance the personal experience of their customers.
According to Oracle, these technologies will have the biggest impact on the business in the next five years:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the way that companies interact with their customers. AI plays a crucial role in understanding how businesses operate and transforming businesses in general.
The following are some of the key artificial intelligence market statistics:
Here is a brief recap of how AI is changing digital customer experience and how you can address it in your initiatives.
Artificial Intelligence can help analyze customer’s purchase decisions and create personalized recommendations. Imagine how difficult it would be for an online store to provide personalization? AI allows us to analyze customer preferences and recent shopping behavior to suggest related products for the customers.
For example, Adidas and its “Complete the Look” recommendation feature. The sportswear giant partnered with AI platform provider Findmine to automatically generate complete outfits.
When you visit a brick-and-mortar store, an assistant can help you find the right product or pick up an analog if a specific product is not available.
But, when you visit an online store, it can be exhausting hopping from one page to another trying to find the right thing. In this case, chatbots can provide your customers with the right support.
A chatbot is an AI program that is designed to simulate communications with customers by engaging directly with them through chat windows, messaging, or voice applications.
Take Sephora Assistant as an example. Customers can receive beauty tips, tutorials, and even video clips. Sephora bot will also help to find the products used in the tutorials and suggest the best products from any category.
You can use chatbots according to your business needs: from a simple bot that will say “Hi” to your customers, to a complex one that will have a conversation with them.
Here are just a few cases when a chatbot can come in handy:
But don’t forget that it’s easy to start focusing way too much on new tech trends and forgetting the main purpose of your business – meeting customer needs and delivering value. So before investing in emerging technologies, think about how they will benefit your business, namely:
For instance, you can’t replace every interaction with a chatbot. In some cases, you will need to show more empathy and ensure a human conversation.
The chatbot needs to use plain language to engage with customers. Also, it should quickly direct customers without any frustration.
Having the latest technologies to drive your business and digital product strategy is great. But sometimes, in pursuit of trends, we forget about basic things.
Cloud-first is the main philosophy behind many digital transformation initiatives. The cloud is the main helper for most companies in their journey to become more fast, flexible, and scalable.
Cloud is more than just a technology infrastructure. It provides a simplified environment to support business initiatives and realize the value of developments, such as:
Let’s see how exactly the cloud can help improve your customer experience:
We used to perceive a service to be personalized when calling customers by name or foreseeing their preferences. Hyper-personalization brings customer experience to a higher level by understanding customers’ problems and immediately providing a solution. You may wonder how it relates to the cloud? The thing is that nowadays your entire data is on the cloud, which makes it possible for brands to make the most of it. To provide a better customer experience, the cloud allows companies to analyze this data, segment customers based on their behavior, interactions, and preferences. Knowing how your customers behave and interact with your product creates the opportunity to reach them easier, faster, and more individualized.
Speed to market is another advantage of cloud technology. As an example, let’s have a look at Moleskine, a leading brand in notebooks and writing accessories. While they were heavily dependent on their brick-and-mortar stores, they recognized that customers’ shopping behavior and habits have changed and quickly adapted to the market needs. The company wanted its online presence to be unique and provide the same personalized experience as in the offline stores. They utilized Oracle Commerce Cloud and within 6 months launched an e-commerce platform to sell their products in more than 30 countries.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to beginning a digital customer experience journey. All customers and industries are individual and your approach will depend on your target audience and their demands.
A big volume of customer touchpoints that exist in today’s digital world means that customer experience is even more complex. At first, in-store experiences were replaced with e-commerce. Then social-media and mobile-first appeared. Now businesses adopt voice-assistants and AI systems. What comes next, who knows? But one thing is obvious, the platforms and to engage customers in the digital world will increase in the future, making your digital CX crucial to your ongoing success.
You might view each of these digital touchpoints in isolation but it will only slow your ability to respond to customers in a timely and effective manner. As a result, your customer will get a bad experience. To customers, the channel is irrelevant as they jump from one digital channel to another. To keep ahead of your competitors, improve current product engagement, you need to deliver great and personalized experiences at each of these touchpoints. In 2021, try to invest more in building long-term relationships with your customers by understanding their needs and solving their problems.
Businesses are moving their focus towards digital, but many don’t have a comprehensive digital strategy in place. A digital strategy is pivotal for all businesses who wish to succeed in this competitive space because it ensures your business goals are in-line with your digital goals.
Our digital definition of a comprehensive digital strategy is:
A digital strategy establishes the overall direction that a business will follow digitally. Key to the strategy is the definition of the digital vision – acting as a North Star for the business to follow, it provides digital purpose, aligns the organisation and is fundamental to the digital ambition of the business. The digital strategy outlines the channels, assets, platforms and tools required to achieve these objectives and deliver the results.
Businesses are spending money on digital assets (website, database, etc.) and channels (social media, Google Ads, etc.) but they don’t have a digital strategy in place. Below, we have highlighted the critical steps that must be included in your business’ digital strategy
Review and compare your digital assets against your competitors. Research your target audience, review your keywords, and also research trends and potential disruptors.
Evaluate your research and uncover any gaps or niches that have been identified. Outline the good, bad and neutral performance of your digital presence. Also, perform Porter’s Five Forces assessment on your industry and a SWOT on your assets, as well as your competitors.
Firmly decide the direction that you want your digital strategy to take you and ensure that it is in-line with your business goals. Once it has been agreed on, establish your external view (“Why do we need to do it?”) and internal view (“Why are we doing it?”) for the company.
Your company’s website is a key foundation to your digital strategy, so you must ensure your website strategy includes, UX (user experience), interface designs and visual guidelines, as well as web analytics and optimisation. Your website strategy should be aligned with your digital strategies vision, goals and objectives.
Once you have successfully created your website strategy, outline your keyword and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy [note; this will need further research as time proceeds], as well as your content strategy. You should also consider and choose tools and assets, which will help execute your digital strategy. Though, remember you shouldn’t just select and forget tools. You need to continually research new tools that are in the market. Due to the dynamic nature of the industry, there will also be better tools becoming available.
*It is also important to note that each individual strategy mentioned above, must have separate KPIs and objectives and are altered when needed.
Data is critically important to any business and it is an element that is often missed in a digital strategy. It is a foundation that brings all the other elements together so that your objectives and goals can be achieved. You also need to consider what data elements you need, so you can capture and assess how you will use it. Your data also helps qualify your audience and it should be analysed and optimised regularly.
By effectively executing the six steps within your digital strategy, you provide your business with a greater opportunity to succeed in the digital space as all aspects are considered. A successful digital strategy has the ability to increase your business, and if executed correctly, it will move your company to be thought-leaders within your designated space.
All great products (and not-so-great products, for that matter) begin at the same point A: Development. If a growing business is the fruit of your labor, new product development (NPD) would be the seed of an idea. It’s the silence before the bang.
But it’s not just new companies that benefit from NPD; product development is a critical part of any thriving business, no matter its age. Markets change, competitors change, and if there’s one thing that the digital era has shown us it’s that customers change too.
As a result, even the most seasoned companies with the most established offerings won’t be caught standing still. Take Apple, for example: The company moved from Macs to music to iPhones and beyond in a relatively short period of time. Truly successful companies are always generating new ideas and refining their existing products.
In this article we’re going to take a look at:
In this article, we’re going to be looking specifically at digital products. In a way, digital products can be similar to digital services in the sense that they automate tasks or operate like a tool. As a result, you may sometimes see these words used interchangeably. We want to clarify on how we’re using the language here:
The development process is the means by which a product, digital or physical, is created. In practice there isn’t a ton of difference between digital and physical product development—but as you’ll see, the models we mention evolved out of the tech and software industry and reflect that origin.
Before we dive into the individual models, let’s check out a high-level overview of what the digital product development process looks like.
Even if you subscribe to a specific model for digital product development, you’ll find these common themes:
This is the phase of pure ideation, also known as the Fuzzy Front End (FFE). This pre-development phase is fueled by creativity and limitless possibilities. The key to this stage is to put ourselves in the customers’ shoes, and there are many avenues that can help you do that:
In the initial stages of ideation, it’s really a matter of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. We want to generate as many ideas as possible.
If you are struggling with the ideation phase (or need to reign it in) you might try using a structured technique. While it may seem counterintuitive to use structured thinking to break down creativity barriers, many companies find success with creative thinking techniques like SCAMPER or SWOT.
SCAMPER was popularized by Bob Eberle to ignite creative brainstorming. Each letter of the acronym represents a different way of developing a new product:
For example: Someone had the clever idea of combining a mobile phone with an mp3 player and a camera.
Industry disruptors like Amazon and Netflix eliminate an intermediary.
Twitter is a great example of a company that adapted. Before Twitter was Twitter, it was Odeo — a podcasting platform. Apple beat Odeo to the punch, so Evan Williams held a series of hackathons with Odeo employees. He asked them to hold off on their normal tasks and instead consider how Odeo could be reinvented. On the last hackathon, Jack Dorsey created Twitter (a rough MVP, if you will). This was an historical pivot, and it essentially came from asking the question “What can we do with the product we already have?”
SWOT analysis is a simple framework used to assess a company’s current position in order to inform a new strategy. This can be applied to marketing and sales initiatives (or any other facet of business that requires strategy), as well as product development. The idea is to take stock of the existing circumstances, and to use that reality to chart a course forward.
SWOT consists of:
SWOT is also called external-internal analysis, because the first two points tend to relate to internal forces, and the second two points tend to relate to external forces. Using this framework as a guide, we can discover ways to minimize risk and maximize resources.
At this point the product development team will likely be linking up with the marketing department. After all, we can’t talk about strategy without talking about the customers that strategy is in service to, and understanding customers falls largely into marketing’s purview.
If you use one of the creative problem solving methods in phase #1, it’s likely that you will already have considered your current standing in a market or industry. That comes in handy as you now move onto developing strategic elements like:
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to strategy, and this is where teaming up with seasoned growth experts is beneficial — they bring the insight and expertise needed to bring all these elements together.
If there’s one thing to bear in mind about digital product development, it’s that the process tends to be highly iterative; whereas that idea from phase #1 is the germ of sand, phase #3 is the layer upon layer of nacre.
The first layer is the prototype. The idea here is to establish the most basic version of the product. This means it will likely have little to no functionality. It’s mostly a basic design with the UI and UX hashed out. Like a mockup that can be as high- or low-fidelity as needed. The prototype is often used to solicit initial feedback from stakeholders and prospective users.
Then, there’s typically some iterative development that takes place. One way of breaking this down is:
Prior to the official release, the digital product is continuously put through the wringer. These strict quality control procedures help to eliminate defects. And then comes…
…the peak moment. Also called commercialization, this is when a company publicly rolls out a product.
Depending on how polished the product is, you may or may not opt for a soft launch. Often with digital products, there are still bugs and kinks to be worked out. Launching an MVP or keeping the launch semi-private may actually help you scale more efficiently. Following that, there may be other, bigger marketing pushes.
There is a lot that goes into a successful launch but it can be mostly boiled down to three key components:
Of course, launching a product is just the start. Following launch, the singular objective of a company is growth. We’ve written about using insight-driven data for growth here.
What we’ve laid about above is the general trajectory of the digital product development process. There are, however, specific models that tech and software companies often use.
In our experience, the best approach tends to vary on a case-by-case basis. You may need to meld models together in order to tailor something to your company’s needs.
Common models and methods include:
This is the most traditional approach. Waterfall development offers a logical, top to bottom progression in which one stage must be entirely completed before moving to the next stage.
What it looks like:
Between each of these stages, there is usually a “stage gate,” which is a review of the prior stage.
Pros of Waterfall:
Cons of Waterfall:
Agile development (or more specifically, SCRUM) is waterfall development’s more dynamic and iterative cousin. Rather than one long timeline, agile is arranged into “sprints.” A sprint is usually a duration of weeks and each sprint is distinguished by a list of deliverables. At the end of each sprint, the result is evaluated by the project team and customers. Agile relies heavily on customer involvement throughout the entire development process.
What it looks like:
You’ll notice, however, that the stages aren’t too different from what we see in the traditional waterfall model. Perhaps the biggest differences between the two are:
Pros of Agile:
Cons of Agile:
Adapted from Toyota’s legendary manufacturing process (which has gone on to shape industries all over the world), lean development is all about quick delivery and quality-first progress. The lean digital product lifecycle usually looks something like this:
What it looks like:
It can be thought of as a subset of agile development, since it also speeds up the development process by taking an iterative “learn as we go” approach.
Pros of Lean:
Cons of Lean:
There are as many approaches to new product development as there are businesses; in our experience, it’s never the same journey twice. If you’re about to take the plunge into product development, consider partnering with Orogamis growth experts. We’re well-versed in digital product development and know how to leverage data and market research to provide you with the strongest possible foundation for the development and launch of a new product.