Learning how to create a product is no easy task. Overwhelming yourself with the totality of a project could lead to some serious stress and procrastination. Ask any entrepreneur or ecommerce business about there journey to a shelf-ready product, it is often a bumpy ride.
The beauty about product development is you do not need to be a math savant or have a photographic memory. Those who learn how to create a product forge their path by simply making things happen. When one avenue does not work, there is always another path to take right around the corner. If you can think of it, and you have the effort and energy to expense, you can make it.
Our founder, Ryan Lange, went to college to major in real estate. Quickly he realized that real estate was not his forte, so he taught himself CAD design and networked with manufacturers to find the greatest factory to develop his design. The rest is history.
While these types of inspirational stories show that anyone can create a product, they do not give an exact blueprint of how to make it happen. Where do you start? Who do you speak to? How do I actually, “make” a product? In this post, we are going to answer many of these questions you may have on your journey to create a product
What is Product Development?
Before we tell you how to act, it is important to give you a deeper understanding of what exactly it is that you are doing. Product development, by definition, is creating and delivering a new product to market or adding value to an existing product. From products to services, to technologies we use every day. Product development is the process that everyone takes part in to create a product.
How to create a product: The 7 stages
1.) Identifying a problem
This part usually happens from someone being stress out with the current methodology of a service, or the poor performance of a product. The desire to have something greater and more satisfying. The individual reading this post may have just had this same experience, which is exactly why they were prompted to search, “how to create a product” into the search bar. Congrats, you have taken the next step forward into your own journey of creating a product. Now that you are interested enough to read this far, we are going to tell you exactly what needs to be done next.
2.) Researching the need
Maybe you know how to create a product, but do you know if someone needs your solution? Are people actively searching for your proposed solution? You need to figure this out before you spend money on design and prototypes. You can do research in a few ways.
SEMrush is an amazing tool. It cost’s $110 a month, but you can get a 7-day trial for free. SEMrush can provide insight into what people are searching for each month. For example, you can utilize their keyword magic tool to see how much someone searches, “how to create a product.: According to SEMrush, that exact phrase is searched 720 times a month on average. With that knowledge we know with this article we could potentially answer the question for 720 people a month on how to develop your product idea.
To give you a better understanding, let’s look at it this way. Say you really want a solo cup for beer pong but you need it made out of metal. You search google to find out that this does not exist. You are angry because you really want to step up your pong materials game. You go to SEMrush and you learn that 2,900 people a month are searching for, “metal pong cup”, 1,900 people a month are searching for, “solo cup made out of metal”, and 880 people are searching for, “metal cup shaped like a red solo.” With this information, you realize that a total of 3,100 are searching for your product idea each month. This is going to give you a great indication that your product will satisfy the need of those 5,680 people.
Surveying your Target Market
This is a great way to do research if you are balling on a budget. All you need is access to google surveys which is free with any google account. Here you need to ask non-leading questions. If you ask something like, “Would you buy a metal red solo cup?” You may get skewed data. An individual may think that is a great idea until they are presented with the $15 product. They then do not value the product at $15 and you were misled. Instead, you should ask questions like, “How much do you spend when you play pong? How often do you play pong?” “Do you care what kinds of cups you use when you play pong?” These questions also do not reveal to your target market what you are trying to produce.
3.) Conceptualize the Design
We start by sketching the design so that we can get on the same wavelength with our client. Sketching will also make 3D design much easier and faster. Think about it this way. When you wrote a ten page paper for school in college, did you create an outline first? Or did you just jump right into writing? You need to have a base and general understanding of what you are going to create and how it will look.
Sketching doesn’t need to be perfect. It could be on a piece of paper, or you can utilize a service like Adobe Illustrator. We commonly use Adobe since it is easy for us to share renditions within our office and to send to the client. If we are having trouble creating something in adobe, we will result in hand draw product ideas.
This is the stage that many people lose confidence within themselves. They didn’t go to school for product design, so how can they create a tech pack? These thoughts and assumptions are incorrect. Undoubtedly, teaching yourself 3D CAD modeling will take a year or maybe even a few more to learn and understand.
Hiring a professional design team to complete the task is much more economical, but it’s not impossible. We utilize a software called CLO 3D Fashion Garment CAD software. There are a multitude of tutorials on YouTube that show you how to create certain styles of fashion.
If you are in need to understand how to develop a complex product from scratch, we would recommend Rhino, AutoCAD, SOLIDworks, or GstarCAD, All of these product design softwares offer something different depending on what type of product you are looking design.
Sketching the product out is great but you need something more complex and universal to bring to the manufacturer. Sketches will usually not suffice when working with a manufacturer. Sometimes this will work for clothing, but with a complex product should come a complex blueprint of how to create it.
4.) Get it Made
Some people can be great at designing a product, but how do you actually get the product into something you can hold in your hand? Maybe you can go to the local makerspace and utilize their soldering irons or woodcutting tools to piece together a working prototype. You don’t have an injection molding machine at your disposal, and you certainly don’t have a sewing machine to sew together your innovative backpack design. So, how do you get this done?
How do you find a factory to create your product? Well for us, it has taken years of products and a multitude of failures to find manufacturers that we can rely on. Sometimes we run into someone acting like a middleman. They say they have an office, sometimes they even send you a picture of workers. When you show up to their so-called factory, you realize that there is nothing there. These people are simply posing as a factory on Alibaba and just outsourcing to a factory near them. This is a waste of money. If you are more interested in this problem with fraudulent factories, go watch The China Hustle on Amazon Prime.
You can get around this problem by asking the potential manufacturer for certifications and factory review checks from local officials. If they do not have these, then they are not reliable, and you shouldn’t bring any business to them.
If you can’t seem to find a reliable manufacturer, check in with us and we will be happy to partner you with someone who we have chosen to work with before.
Your first prototype probably will not be what you want to sell to customers and that is okay. It is rare for manufacturers to hit the nail on the head with their first prototype. Even the best CAD design is tough to fully understand. Do not be surprised if you need to go through this process 3-4 times to finally get what you want.
Here you will likely be writing back and forth to your manufacturer communicating ideas and concepts. This will require working late at night since most manufacturers are overseas. When they are just waking up and ready to start their day, you are laying down to sleep. That is why some people chose a design consultant to take care of all this chaos when figuring out how to create a product.
6.) Validate with Your Target Market
This is where you really need to put your ego aside. Some people believe that they have created the next greatest product to ever hit the shelves. That is normal, you should be very excited about what you are doing. Additionally, you cannot let your excitement blind you of what is happening. It is important to get this product into the hands of potential customers to obtain feedback. You never know what you are missing or what is not working correctly. If you are a male, have you tested the product on females? Does it fit the same? Is the material causing people to sweat? These are factors you may not have thought about when figuring out how to create a product.
By asking for all constructive criticism from influencers and big names in your industry, you can change the mistakes before they become a bigger problem. Imagine if you ordered 2000 units that nobody wanted? That would be a shame and it would put you in a serious hole in terms of capital.
Now it is go-time. You have researched if your product will work, figured out how to CAD your own product and gotten a prototype made with a reliable manufacturer. People are happy with your design, and you have gotten some constructive criticism on what to change. You made those changes to the product and now you are ready to launch your product into space!
Here is where you need to do some research on how to market your product efficiently as well. Facebook and google ads can be a dead end if you do not know how to operate them correctly. If you need help setting up ad campaigns or creating content, we would be happy to see how we could help with that.
Posted by: Ryan Lange Product Design