It used to be that developing a product meant working with tangible materials—metal, wood, plastic—to create a 3D object people could touch, or hold in their hands.
But nowadays, a huge percentage of products developed each year are intangible. Software systems and apps are being developed in great numbers every day, changing the face of the product development industry.
Of course, those intangible systems need tangible component if they’re going to be usable, and that’s where we at Pivot have made our mark. As a product development firm, we at Pivot have made sure to stay on the cutting edge of software and electronic component design and development, just like we do with fitness, biometric, consumer, and other industry design and development.
Along the way, we’ve picked up some tips on developing software products, which have a bit of a different lifecycle than other products. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Simple is better. With software products, it’s easy to get complicated really, really quickly. And while a certain amount of complication is inherent in any product that uses adaptor boards, LCD screens, and other electronic components, you want to make sure not to overcomplicate. Decide what your product needs to do, and focus on making it do that.
- Listen to the crowd. Crowdsourcing, both for ideas and for fundraising, is a useful strategy in many product industries, but it can be especially helpful when you’re working on something that has to be intuitive, user-friendly, and easy to understand in order to succeed.
- Make sure you have a project developer—or at least, someone who’s in charge of keeping the project on budget and on deadline. Because of the inherent complication we mentioned earlier, plus the huge range of options that designing a software product opens up, it can be harder to keep this kind of project on track.
- Prototype, prototype, prototype. We’ve emphasized the importance of this step before, but it’s especially helpful when developing software. A good approach is to prototype separate parts of the software at once, so you can test different program components while still working in the development phase. This will also make it easier to make changes to the program should you need to.
- Put just as much time into developing your product launch as you did into development. With software, developers and testers can often get tunnel-vision. They’ve spent weeks and months working on this new product, and they understand it perfectly—why wouldn’t everyone else?
With software products, like the electronic ballot box we created, these are all important criteria to consider—even if your product is intended for use only by specially trained people. Talk to your friends and family about your product as you’re working on it, and if possible, let them try out the prototype. They’ll let you know pretty quickly whether your product is as user-friendly as you think it is.
Maybe you acted as your own project manager with a former, non-software product—but if you haven’t managed a software product launch before, chances are it will be in your best interest to hire an experienced project manager (Pivot can help with this through our Project Management services).
But software products need strong, engaging launches if they’re going to be successful. If users will need training, make sure that’s available. If possible, set up a launch system that allows people to learn about your product, then try it out before they buy it. Have clear goals for what you want to accomplish as far as awareness, sales, and more.
Developing and launching a software product can be a daunting task, but help is available. At Pivot, we have years of experience helping to move software products into the market. If we can help you with software development or electronic component development, contact us today!