How to Take That Big Step from Idea to Design

Ideas are nothing without the execution that’s going to make them a reality, but how exactly does that execution take shape? So many inventive and potentially game-changing ideas die because there’s no outlet for that creativity to form into anything of value. Here’s how you begin taking those fledgling ideas and start on the path toward designing the product you’re dreaming of.

Step 1: Do Your Research

As much as the startup space has changed the game of how businesses can succeed, we still have to follow the same due diligence practices that have always existed. When you’ve got a picture of an idea in your head, write it all down, and step out of your own mind to see what else is out there.

Begin by checking if something similar to your concept is already patented with a quick search of uspto.gov. Once you’ve confirmed that you’ve got something truly unique, turn your research toward the market yourself. Ask that big question: “Is there a serious need out there that my product can fulfill?”

Look for products that are operating in a similar space and see how they are doing. Try to locate an untapped niche and build your product around it. If your idea blossomed because you saw a big problem that you think you can solve then you can safely skip this step.

Step 2: Build Something

This is the part that so many people get stuck on. It’s easy to have a picture in your head, and it’s really hard to make that image into something real and tangible. The key is to go in headfirst without fear of consequence and learn as much as you can about what the ideal form of your product looks like.

Draw pictures, create mock-ups, and build models. Even if they’re awful and ugly, make your ideas real. Chances are along the way, you’re going to spot a lot of potential roadblocks that you just couldn’t see when your idea only existed in your head.

Depending on the nature of your product, the design phase can take many shapes. If it’s an app and you have no idea how to make software then see if you know someone who can help you out. There’s no reason to go at it alone if you don’t think you have the necessary skills unless you’re confident you can develop them in the future. Research the technology that suits your needs, and try to pick the most cost-efficient option available.

Step 3: Test, Iterate, and Improve

No product will be remotely close to it’s best possible state immediately. It’s probably going to take a lot of trial, error, and difficulty before you create something that you can really be proud of. Test constantly, both in terms of working quality and whether what you’re creating is genuinely exciting to people.

As we’ve discussed at length before, one of the best ways to do this is to subscribe to the Lean Startup methodology. If you’re not 100% confident what final form your vision is going to take, reach out to others. Let them test your product and give their feedback on what it should look like. Aim to locate consistent patterns in that feedback that you can be confident is actionable.

This not only serves the purpose of testing and improvement, but can also act as effective continuing market research on your value proposition. If your beta testers just aren’t seeing the value of what you’re building, maybe that means it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

If you are confident in your idea and tireless in your desire to make it real then it’s just a matter of learning the tricks of the trade to make it happen.

— ZK

Ed Lynes13p5Comment