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Digital Product Development: How, Why and What Next?

Why develop a digital product? It’s all about solving a problem for your customer. It’s about pinpointing a customer need or an issue to fix, and finding a digital solution. By doing that, you’re creating something that people will buy and use.

But, it’s very easy for digital products to fail. It’s a harsh but fair reality. A successful digital product comes from a disciplined approach, a smart strategy, sound research, thoughtful design, reliable technology and a considered go-to market plan.

Remember, this is a digital-first offering (rather than physical product), so these products can’t stand still. They need to evolve, adapt and scale as market demands change. The digital product development cycle is a continuous one as you keep on improving the user experience for the specific digital product (like mobile apps, web apps and websites).

Here, we’ll look at the benefits of digital product development as well as the stages of digital product development. And we’ll take a quick gaze into the future to predict some trends.

What are the benefits of digital product development for your business?

Most businesses typically do one thing extremely well. Growth comes from capturing more market share organically or through acquisition, and typically your reach and growth are strictly limited by time: you and your team only have so much of it.

Digital products offer a way for businesses and organizations to expand revenue and impact far beyond what is otherwise possible.

A digital product can help you:

  • Reach new kinds of customers
  • Create recurring revenue
  • Unhook growth from time and people
  • Differentiate your current offerings
  • Create more value in your company.

Historically the expense made it so only venture-backed startups or big enterprises could afford the investment required to design, develop, and scale a digital product. Today, that’s no longer true. Design and development is increasingly more efficient, and the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence tools is speeding up the timeline even more. The proliferation of digital products will continue to change how you compete for customers and what customers expect from you.

What’s the life cycle of digital product development?

With digital products, it’s not just about getting the software or apps live to the market and moving on to something else. There’s an ongoing product roadmap of new iterations and further website and app development. And don’t forget the accompanying marketing strategy and initiatives throughout the pre-launch, launch and post-launch phases.

The digital product lifecycle incorporates various disciplines, bringing together experts in digital product strategy, research, design, project management and development. At Highland Solutions, we work with you from concept to launch, uniting our subject experts into one powerful development team.

The stages of digital product development:

It’s really important to develop and launch a minimum viable product (MVP) with go-to-market and measurement built in. Be mindful of future scalability, so lay the groundwork for further iteration, traction, and growth.

Custom Software Development

Launch custom software that delivers on your next big opportunity. This process goes from ideation through design and development, to ensure the best possible product is launched.

It’s a combination of continuous customer feedback, human-centered design, and quality software engineering practices to develop new, or update existing, web applications, mobile applications (IOS and/or Android) and digital products.

It’s recommended to include:

Multi-disciplinary teams - a highly skilled team with a range of skillsets is needed to meet the project’s specific requirements.

Agile iterations of software development - the product needs to be adjusted and improved continuously, from early wireframes and prototypes, through to beta test apps and digital products.

Constant feedback - refer to, and learn from, your target audience for their thoughts on the developing product to ensure the project meets customer needs. Continually test ideas, features, functionality and designs with stakeholders as well as conducting market research with future customers in advance of development, and test working software with your target audience along the way.

Controlled investment - it’s easy to go over the top on features and functionality, but you want a return on your investment which means controlling the scale of build.

Collaboration - shared communication between all stakeholders is vital throughout this process.

Product Performance Measurement

Measure leading indicators of success for continuous product improvement. Again, keep learning throughout the development process to inform decision-making and keep making the product better and better for your customers.

Iteration, Optimization and Scale

Ongoing improvements and learnings are important to perfect products. Aim for peak performance and ongoing growth. Ensure the validation and quality assurance process is rigorous.

Discover how we develop innovative products, the Highland way

Successful digital product development is a long journey

Remember that launch phase is only the next stage of the product lifecycle. Product management must include constantly learning about your product, then refining, scaling, optimizing and reviewing everything as you go on. You need to gain user feedback, to review the usability and performance metrics, and to continually iterate and enhance your digital product.

Genioo case study

Management consulting firm, Genioo wanted to scale their business and create recurring revenue through a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model. We worked with them to develop a sophisticated project management application, based on understanding user behaviors. The result was an impactful $100M+ annual recurring revenue. Discover how we made this happen. Read the case study in full

What are the key trends shaping digital product development in 2024?

These concepts aren’t entirely new, but they are high priorities for digital product development. And as more industries embark on digital transformation, its importance is ever increasing. These are five of the key trends to look into for the year ahead.

Data-driven decision-making - customer-centric businesses use performance metrics and research data to inform their business strategy and everyday decision-making. The end user (often thought of by their marketing personas) is always front of mind, determining the next product iterations and new product development.

User-centric design - again this reiterates the importance of focussing on your user needs first and foremost. It’s about effective UX design to create the best user experience, with a value proposition that solves their problem and really satisfies them.

Continuous development - adopting an agile methodology of continuous improvement is beneficial for digital product development. Regular code updates, testing, integration and deployment need to be built into workflows and the project management timeline to ensure product releases are quick, reliable and timely. These are agile development fundamentals.

AI/ machine learning - next level AI, AR and machine learning technologies are evolving and being adopted. How can they improve and enhance your digital products, great amazing customer experiences or provide solutions to meet user needs? It’s an exciting prospect. Start brainstorming!

Compliance - threats to online security and privacy are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent. Ensuring robust security measures are part of your software development process is key to building trust with your users.

Your partner in digital product development

We know how difficult digital product development can be. Knowing what it takes to be successful does make it easier.

We at Highland Solutions have extensive expertise in building and scaling digital products that work and truly meet customer needs. We partner with businesses at varying stages of digital product development, helping them to create, measure, optimize and scale their offering. Our wonderful range of experts are here to help. Whether you’re a startup with an innovative new product idea or an established business on a digital transformation journey, we can support and enhance your digital product development experience.

To find out how we can help your business, please get in touch

“We wouldn’t be achieving our goals without Highland. We worked with an incredibly high-caliber team,” Jill Cole, Director of Membership, Thrivent.

Download “The Essential Guide to Launching a Digital Product for Experts & Expert Firms”

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