A Simple Product Design Process

For people who don’t do website and web application development regularly it can become easy to get lost in the process. For example, they may want a design for a page with look and feel before they even know what content will be on that page. To help product owners, content owners, and those involved in development who aren’t familiar the ins and outs I’ve put together a diagram and process to help walk them through what’s happening and what’s needed.

Process Diagram

This process is meant to be a simplification bordering on over simplification. Let me break down each of these parts.

Persona / User

Before you can build anything you need to know who you are building it for. Creating something for an open source developer is radically different than creating something for someone in the office of the CIO at an enterprise. They talk differently, have different needs, approach a situation with a different context, and so forth.

This all needs to begin with an understanding of who a user type is at a non-trivial and non-demographic level. The best way I’ve seen to do this in a manner that can be used by a UX developer, a marketer, someone in sales, and so forth is to use Personas.


Once you know who your users are you need goals. And, “tell customers all about our stuff” is a terrible goal. The goal should be for a persona not you.

Some good goals could look like:

  • A product manager signs up for our email list where they can learn about product updates.
  • A potential developer customer completes the online registration form.
  • A developer can easily navigate to service documentation.

These should be specific to the personas and what they are willing to do. You don’t want a goal that would be out of the nature for a Persona.

Content / Experience

Once you have goals and know who your users are content and an experience can be crafted. It’s important to wait until this point to craft content and an experience so as to do it well. For example, content about a product written to a developer or someone in the office of the CIO at an enterprise will be different. Or, a goal of getting an individual developer to sign up for an account will be very different from that of someone in enterprise management.

Design / Veneer

Once you have content and an experience you can design it. You can create the pretty icons, figure out page layout, pick your fonts, and so forth. And I mean this in all the ways that go beyond veneer.