Why You Need a Digital Product Development Firm
Each digital product—whether a mobile or web app—has its own lifecycle, roadmap, and market strategy. To take an app from concept to market requires digital design-savvy, engineering mastery, and a deep understanding of product management.
Far too many “would-be” game-changing digital product ideas fail to get past the drawing board because a company lacks the proper resources and infrastructure to successfully execute their vision. Others die out somewhere along the way because the execution and followthrough simply wasn’t there. And still, others reach the finish line, though not with a bang but with a whimper.
Digital product development isn’t something you want to just jump into without the proper support and expertise to ensure success. And it’s not something you can afford to get wrong. That’s why you need to partner with a digital product development firm that can help you create web and mobile solutions and successfully transform your large or small business vision into reality.
Why You Need Digital Product Development Services
The digitalization of the modern world has changed how companies, consumers, and end-users do business and interact with each other. Whether it’s an app, a chatbot, or website, technology provides new ways to engage and deliver outcomes. As it becomes an even more integral facet of daily life, your company needs to have a project that delivers digital products and services that meet and exceed your end-users’ expectations and provide real solutions. With the innovation of consumer-facing apps, a digital experience is either the first and sometimes the only interaction a customer has with your brand. That experience needs to be as good or better than if they were interacting with a human representative.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but a well-developed digital product design has the potential to completely change the way your company does business all while having an extremely positive impact on your bottom line. Your digital product can give you the opportunity to more easily engage with, and deliver more value to, your end-users. But to achieve those lofty goals, a digital product must not only be reliable and secure but it has to solve for a specific issue.
Accomplishing all of that isn’t easy, which is why you’ll want a trustworthy partner on your side. While each situation is different, there are three common reasons why a company might seek out the help of a digital product development firm:
- Discovering business problems and solutions – Some companies require project management guidance for their digital product efforts. This can be solved by having a managing director with extensive experience to oversee market research. Experienced firms are capable of performing a full discovery to get to the root business problems and uncover novel solutions. This information is used to develop a better understanding about what skills or talent are required to build out a meaningful digital product.
- To partner with your team – A team made up of a senior engineer, UI/UX designer, and project strategists will lead and mentor your existing team. They’ll guide them through the process from start to finish and are responsible for delivering high-level code and amazingly intuitive designs.
- To fill in the gaps – Do you have engineers but have limited mobile or design talent? A firm can supply the right people to partner with your team and fill in the gaps.
Benefits of Partnering with a Digital Product Development Firm
Now, it’s important to note that we don’t use the word “partner” lightly. Your digital product development firm should be much more than just a company you hire to do some work—they should be as invested in your project as you are.
To that end, a digital product development firm can guide you through the process of developing a software development project, like a fully-functional mobile app or web app from ideation to product launch. Ideally, you’ll get a senior-level engineer, a UI/UX designer, a dedicated project strategist, and QA team to help manage the several stages of development. These experts guide the project through the entire journey, delivering benefits to each stage of the development process, including:
Discovery and Consultation
Few companies realize how just important this stage is, but this is where you determine the viability of the idea.
To do that, you must ask questions such as:
- Why are we building this product now?
- What problems are we hoping to solve?
- Who will benefit most from this product?
- What is the competitive landscape and how do we build differentiation in from the start?
A worthwhile partner will look at your idea or existing infrastructure and seriously consider these questions before ever agreeing to build anything out. Their goal is to validate market demand to guarantee that you’re investing in the best idea possible. To accomplish this, they will surround you with a team of engineers, designers, and strategists to guide you through the collaborative discovery period, which includes:
- Drawing board – Even if you already have a great idea, a good firm can help you think about it from all angles, break down organizational silos, highlight challenges, or brainstorm newer or better solutions.
- Product Strategy – Return on investment is an important consideration that can’t be overlooked. To create positive ROI, a firm will build out a product charter that helps establish objectives and goals and makes sure that product strategy is aligned with the organizational strategy. This helps ensure that there is collective action and shared understanding across the entire organization.
- Roadmapping – Once the research is done and the idea is set, the team can help sketch out the rough concept of the requisite baseline application functionalities for an MVP and MMP. A solid roadmap can often shape or influence go-to-market strategies so understanding what that looks like can be vital to success.
Once the discovery period is finished it’s time to take the information gathered and turn it into something brilliant. Some of the work you can expect:
- Multichannel and multiexperince development. As your firm is developing your product they will approach it differently depending on where the app is going to be used the most. So, building an app that is to be used primarily on an iPad app is different than one that will work across devices. The same goes for a web app vs mobile. A top-shelf DPD firm will have experience working across a wide variety of devices and understand how to create a seamless multiexperince solution for your user, or set you up with a single platform product designed to be scalable going forward.
- Mentorship and guidance throughout the process. The major difference between a good development firm and a great one is the level of guidance and mentorship they provide throughout the project. A great firm will not just do the work you ask of them, but explain why and how as well. The end result of such an engagement is that your internal team is better prepared to carry on the work of maintenance and updates—meaning you save money in the long run.
And then the firm you have selected begins the work. Here at Big Nerd Ranch, we often recommend working in two-week sprints. Throughout the entire engagement, you should have constant insight into the work that’s being done, where you are in the project budget as well as access to quick answers around any questions or concerns that pop up. This method allows you to keep an eye on the progress, make important decisions all while allowing the firm to do the heavy lifting.
Every time a user interacts with an app, each touch-point represents an opportunity for brands to engage and impact the user. Naturally, UI and UX play a crucial part in this process. To create an app that fully captures a user’s attention, you must have a deep understanding of consumer psychology and behavioral patterns, UI/UX design, and digital product development. This means finding the perfect balance of:
A firm focuses on aligning a product’s design, experience, and interface with your goals and product strategy. Once the strategy is developed, the UI/UX team leader is responsible with guiding a team of designers and engineers through the following actions:
- Sketching and wireframing – At this point, the team determines how the digital product should look. This will act as the framework that everything else is built upon. By defining it, an agency is better able to create cohesion between the brand and the product.
- Design – A digital product development firm understands how to best balance product visual design, user experience, and user interface to create a positive experience at every touch-point.
- Prototyping – Once the design is fleshed out, the team can start to build out a prototype, which includes some of the basic features and designs. This prototype can then be user tested by both the team and target customers to gain actionable insights and discover areas of improvement.
- Agile implementation – An agency is capable of building out the digital product using an agile approach in one or several languages. This helps ensure that you avoid waterfall projects and that the product is able to evolve throughout the process as needed.
Launching the Digital Product
Once the product is developed, the work doesn’t stop there. Bugs or unplanned use-cases are an inevitability with most any product launch; the first version is never a complete success.
An agency can help you conduct small market acceptance tests to get user feedback and find places for improvement. After that’s been done, there may be some modifications that need to occur. An agency can help you refine the product once users have their hands on it.
It’s here that you’ll begin to reap the rewards if you invested in a great digital product firm.
Great design and development means a product that will last longer aesthetically and cleaner and more sustainable code. All that adds up to a product that will stand the test of time and will require much less investment in the future.
From there, it’s time for large-scale launches to the mass market. For firms, this provides another opportunity to continue developing and optimizing the product. By conducting post-launch reviews, the team can assess the financials and customer feedback to determine strengths and weaknesses. After that, there’s still months of post-launch support and maintenance that must be conducted.
Big Nerd Ranch: The Nerds You Can Count On
Do you have a digital product that needs to be built best in class? If so, Big Nerd Ranch is for you.
We are a digital product development agency that focuses on partnering with brands—both big and small—to turn concepts into fully designed digital products.
Just give us the project requirements, and we’ll ensure that it fits your budget, meets your deadlines, and hits your goals. Whether you need someone to fill in the gaps, lead your team, or provide guidance along your journey, when you work with Big Nerd Ranch, you’re teamed up with premier senior engineers capable of delivering high-quality design and code for any digital product.
Big Nerd Ranch
Stacy is the current COO for projekt202 and former CEO and General Manager of Big Nerd Ranch. She’s overseen the creation of world-class digital products that support large-scale businesses around the world, including Google and Amazon.