Although many companies may view research as tedious, research is a critically important step in the product development process. Conducting research properly at the beginning stages of product development as well as at key points during the process can save a lot of time and help prevent disastrous mistakes.
There are three key stages in the product development process where research plays a main part. In order to understand the expanding role of research in product development it’s important to note the different types of research and at what point in the product development stage they take place.
Exploratory research is much like market research. it’s a necessary first step in the development of a new product because it helps ensure your product is meeting a market need and filling a gap. If your product is not meeting a market need, it won’t sell.
During this stage, it’s imperative that you understand your target market and what their needs are. Most importantly, you want to know what problems they have so that you can solve that problem with your new product. Exploratory research is often conducted through focus groups and surveys completed by your own customers or even customers of your competition.
Evaluative research is conducted during the product design stage. Once you have a design, you need to test it for validity and this is where evaluative research comes in. This type of research will let you know if your design is on the right track to solving the main problem you set out to solve after conducting your exploratory research.
Testing your design helps you troubleshoot early design problems. Finding design problems at this stage of the process is much more efficient and cost effective than waiting until you have a final prototype, or worse, a final product.
The research that takes place during the final stage of the design process is similar to evaluative research in that it helps identify design flaws but it is conducted during the beta phase of your product development. You have your prototype ready to go and you test it over and over to make sure it performs the same every time. This gives you a chance to identify and fix any performance deficiencies.
While conducting iterative research, you may ask a few potential customers to use the test product and report their findings in a feedback questionnaire. Depending on your product, it might be more appropriate to test it over and over again in the lab.
Product development firms can be a huge help when it comes to outsourcing parts of the new product development process like research. Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm specializing in software development, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial design. Pivot International offers a wide range of services to help you with your research and product development. To learn more about how Pivot can help you with your product development, contact us today.