Interview mit IAM MIA // Insights into product development
How long have you been working as a product developer and how did it come about?
I am originally a trained graphic designer. After graduating from high school in Berlin, I lived in England for five years, where I studied communication design. For my master's degree, I developed a product to help typography students develop new typefaces. My master's thesis focused on the relationships between form, counterform, and space. I used my prototype to test with students at the University of Reading their experimental behavior and generally the feedback on my development was positive. In addition to analog interaction with my prototype, I was already interested in digital product solutions and developed a computer game, which I had a developer implement in Adobe Flash. Since then, I've been coming up with new product ideas all the time, whether at work or in my personal life.
What do your product developments look like in your personal life?
Before my son was born, I had a penchant for DIY projects and was always thinking about how I could optimize the space in my then 1 1/2 room apartment. I also had two male cats that I wanted to provide more climbing and hiding opportunities for. I loved looking for materials in hardware stores and using sketches to have them cut to fit or to install with friends and relatives. My home brew creations, on the other hand, always remained prototypes. In my job, I love to develop the prototypes into a saleable product.
How can you imagine the process of a product development?
At the beginning of every product development there is always a detailed examination of every problem. It is advisable to categorize problems and initial solution approaches, e.g. into main and secondary problems or into pragmatic and emotional solution approaches. At this point, the perspective of users with their emotional and social aspects can play an essential role and it can be worthwhile to conduct user surveys relatively at the beginning, because the target group should be included in the assumptions and observations as early as possible. Market research and the related competitor analysis take place in parallel. It is checked how certain problems have already been solved or approached by other companies. The general language for marketing the product may already be included here, as well as the use of specific channels to prepare sales and marketing for strategic brand messages and campaigns. Depending on each project in product development, the analysis and research part can be intensive from the beginning or repeated in individual stages that actively accompany the project. In the first part it is important to get an overview as a team, as close as possible to what is happening on the market, with the prospect of developing and redesigning a sustainable area as a product team. All the results from the research determine elementary functions that will be important and that will ultimately help shape the design, right down to the use of certain technologies, frameworks or even materials. Once the technical and design requirements are known, prototype development can begin. Here, it makes sense to include a calculation component as early as possible, for example in the form of user feedback. The earlier real target groups give their perspective on targeted solutions, the more likely it is that product development will not pursue the wrong goals. Product development is not a linear process, but iterative - assumptions are formulated for the solution of specific problems and these are actively reviewed and improved if necessary. New insights are used to define more precisely the timing and organization for implementation. A product can be marketable within three to six months, but this depends on how competent and experienced the members of a product team are. The holistic view between the different areas in product development is crucial, which at least the product owner and product team leader should have.
What attitude and approach to problems do you recommend to product teams?
In general, I recommend that every team member always remains curious and open to any form of solution approach. Rash decisions can turn out to be very detrimental in the course of product development. One's own assumptions and those of others, for example other team members or the target group, should be taken seriously and checked. Innovation does not just appear out of nowhere; innovative solutions to certain everyday problems develop sooner or later from the most differentiated perspectives possible. No team member or member of a target group is omniscient; every view of things can have individual relevance and have a lasting positive influence on a product.