I was always very curious about how big companies develop new products, how they come up with ideas, features, and all these things. And in reality, it's usually quite a mystery. They never share it with the public.
I learned that the hard way when I was prototyping OLLO's first product and couldn't find many information that would help me move faster. At OLLO, we always try to do things in a different way. So, if you ever wondered how products are developed, here is how we do it. Maybe it can be of value for you at some point.
Example: DEVELOPING S4R HEADPHONES
We came up with the S4R model idea after we already had S4 headphones on the market. There's a story behind it. One of the very first ambassadors we ever got Chris Brown, a London based engineer that worked with Muse, Radiohead and other big names, asked us if we can turn the open back headphones into a closed version for him.
And we did that. We wanted both models to look similar, so the main challenge was to tweak the acoustics, so they sound good with the closed back plates. After we were pleased with the results, we send them out to Chris, as well as to some other engineers. When we gathered the feedback that was essentially very good, we knew we could start selling them with confidence.
Let's look into the phases, step by step.
4 PHASES OF PRODUCT DESIGN HERE AT OLLO AUDIO
Phases we used in developing the S4 (and every product since) come from »design thinking« methodology. It is a user-centered approach to innovation that puts the needs of people in the first place. It starts with the customer development phase, followed by the research and development phase and testing phase, ending with marketing/go to market strategy phase. Let's dive in.
1. What does the customer need? Define the problem.
Customers can not be just anyone. Our headphones can't fit everyone. So obviously, we have in mind our ideal customer, exploring her needs and defining the problem she has. In the case of Chris Brown, his idea was that he could potentially jump very fast from recording booth to the mixing room and still have the same monitoring feel of the project. So this was his reason and the problem, we defined for the S4R headphones development process. After all, based on the feedback, we recognized the need was also present in the workflow of other engineers. Thanks Chris.
2. Research and development
In this phase, we're making thorough market research, finding all the products that are available on the market, study them, and try to find a different or improved angle to it. We try to come to MVP (minimal viable product) with the least money, time, and human resources we can.
We always check the competition. There's a lot of closed-back headphones out there. In the case of S4R, we wanted them to have a sound signature, similar to the S4 model, so we would be able to deliver a promise of a smooth transition from recording to mixing.
3. Prototyping and testing the product
Limitations in a prototyping phase are the unknown, the assumptions you make, not knowing if they will stick once you test them out in real life. And of course, asking the wrong questions.
So again, we designed a prototype and sent it out to Chris and many other engineers. When we gathered the feedback and applied it to the product, we eventually had the small batch of product prototypes, ready to be launched on the market.
4. Putting the product on the market
Competition is stiff, and channels to market your product are limited. What works for us really well is knowing who we can bring the value to.
We also try to use different channels, maybe even to different customers, that might need our product, not just the engineers, but artists and freelancers too.
And at the end, we come to narrowing the product to the perfect market fit, where we know exactly how much it costs to get a customer, what are the materials that go into the product, what its specifications are and what is the obtainable market for the product.
This is how we do it. And this is how we're now developing a new model for the S4 series headphones.
Have more questions or suggestions? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rok Gulič, CEO