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Product validation guide

Last updated

12 June 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Sophia Emifoniye

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Releasing and marketing a product can be an expensive and time-consuming process, but you can increase the chances of a successful launch with the right preparation.

Product validation ensures that your product is completely market-ready. It allows you to make necessary improvements before your product launch, preventing costly mistakes.

What is product validation?

Product validation is the process of testing and evaluating a product to ensure it will serve the customer’s needs. It’s one thing to test features in a laboratory setting, but how well a product performs in the real world is what really counts. Validation means testing how helpful and effective a product is to the people who will actually use it.

Product validation is something that needs to be practiced repeatedly as you get more feedback, update features, remove bugs, and make other changes.

Is product validation the same as product verification?

People sometimes use the terms product verification and product validation interchangeably, but they are a little different.

You would carry out verification to determine if a product is meeting the project’s specified technical requirements at each phase. Validation is concerned with whether the product meets the organization’s requirements.

What is the duration of validity?

Project validation doesn’t tell you how viable a product will be forever. Factors such as economic conditions, competition, and changing customer tastes can influence how a product performs, and these change rapidly in today’s world. That’s why it’s so important to regularly test the validity of product features and the product as a whole.

What are the types of product validation?

Here are the two primary types of product validation:

Feasibility testing

The objective of feasibility testing is to evaluate a product or system’s practicality. A feasibility study may fall into one of the following categories:

  • Market feasibility study: this type of study is conducted to evaluate a product’s potential to succeed financially. It involves researching your target market and competition. You would then perform a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).

  • Technical feasibility study: you need to use certain tools and skills to create your product if you want it to succeed. A technical feasibility study assesses whether you have the technical capabilities to bring the project to fruition.

  • Economic feasibility study: this is where you determine if the project is financially practical. This involves making a cost breakdown that considers all the expenses involved in the project. Identify both secured and potential funding. You may discover you need additional funding sources to create the product. For a commercial project, economic feasibility also includes considering the product’s estimated return on investment (ROI).

  • Legal feasibility study: consider all the legal and regulatory issues that might affect the project. These may include national and global regulations as well as those in your state or region. You should also examine any liability issues. This analysis can also help you decide on the best business structure if this hasn’t yet been formed (e.g., LLC, corporation, or sole proprietor).

  • Operational feasibility study: determines the extent to which the project will meet the needs of the organization. This type of analysis is crucial for obtaining and retaining the support of stakeholders, who must fully believe in the project.

User validation testing

User validation involves testing by actual users. User testing can take many forms depending on the product type, budget, and timeframe.

  • Remote user testing: you may be able to conduct remote testing via phone or video chat for certain products. This method is economical and lets you work with testers anywhere in the world.

  • In-person testing: testing subjects in person has advantages, like seeing body language and facial expressions up close. On the other hand, it’s costlier and requires working with users who can come to your facility.

  • Moderated testing: this is a type of in-person testing where an experienced moderator oversees the testing.

  • Guerrilla testing: tests are conducted in a public place with random passers-by. For example, these tests may be done on a city street, college campus, or public park.

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Why is it essential to validate your product?

Entrepreneurs and developers are optimistic by nature. They don’t always consider whether or not a product is likely to succeed.

Did you know that an estimated 95% of products fail? Below are some of the many possible reasons for product failure. Product validation addresses each one.

  • The product doesn’t solve real-world problems. There needs to be a hungry market for it, even if it’s clever and interesting. Market feasibility studies make sure there’s demand for the product.

  • The company or developer doesn’t have the resources to create the product. Technical and economic feasibility studies are done to assess the company’s resources.

  • Stakeholders aren’t fully bought in and fail to support the project. This can lead to projects being abandoned due to a lack of funding. Operational feasibility studies help unite stakeholders.

  • The product can’t achieve market share due to popular competitors. Analyzing the competition is another aspect of market feasibility research.

When should you validate your product?

Product validation is an ongoing process. However, the planning stages are the most critical time to validate a product.

You should carry out feasibility studies before investing time or money. As the project develops, run continual user testing to improve, add, or tweak features. This allows you to keep the product aligned with user needs and preferences.

Product validation should continue even after the product launch. For example, post-launch user testing can help identify user pain points and areas for improvement.

The product validation process

Validating a product involves accomplishing the following main goals:

  • Defining what people need and how your product will meet those needs

  • Targeting your audience

  • Analyzing the market, which includes understanding the competition and demand

  • Determining if people will actually want your product

The following are the typical stages of product validation:

Preparation

At this stage, you identify the goals and determine the project’s scope. This includes:

  • The main benefit your product provides and how it helps your target customer

  • How you will test the effectiveness of key features

  • How much data you intend to collect and how you’ll obtain it. Identify the sample size if you plan to do user testing

  • A timeline for your research

Know your audience

You need to pinpoint who your customers are. If the product is for an existing business, your target audience may be your current customers or a segment of them. Creating personas can help you construct a customer profile. Consider how your product will address their most pressing concerns.

Collect your data

Gathering data is at the heart of the product validation process. The following are some of the techniques it might involve:

  • Surveys: surveying existing and potential customers is an efficient way to get valuable feedback

  • User testing: online or in-person testing

  • Secondary research: market research gathered from third-party sources, including census data, organizations such as Statista, academic publications or websites, industry journals, or other sources

  • Interviews and focus groups: these can also be conducted in person or remotely, depending on your budget

The lean product validation process

More companies today recognize the need to reduce costs and maximize efficiency at every stage of product creation, including the validation process.

Creating a minimum viable product (MVP) is a useful approach to lean product validation. It includes carefully assessing every step of the validation process, such as collecting data, user testing, and communicating with stakeholders to eliminate waste and redundancy.

Building a landing page can be a useful step. It’s a simple and efficient way to communicate the main purpose of a product to your target audience. Carrying out A/B tests for a landing page is simple. For example, you can test different headlines, keywords, lists of benefits, images, and more.

Strategies to validate a product idea

The following six strategies can help you with product validation effectively:

1. Run a market analysis

A market analysis helps you answer crucial questions, such as:

  • The size of your market

  • Your target audience

  • Demand for the product

  • Your main competitors—identify their strengths and weaknesses

  • Your unique selling proposition (USP)—features that separate you from the competition

2. Create a prototype, beta version, or MVP

Releasing a simple, minimalistic version of your product is an economical way to gauge how your customers will respond to the finished version.

A beta version of the software or a prototype of a physical product lets you conduct user testing before the final product launch.  You learn what people like and what needs improving. This way, the final product is more likely to align with your customer’s needs.

A prototype or MVP lets you assess the product’s value and the potential demand for it. It’s better to find out that a product isn’t viable at this stage rather than later when you’ve invested more time and money into the project.

3. Smoke testing

Smoke testing is a concept in software development that involves conducting preliminary tests of major features before starting formal testing. Mind the Product shared a case study of how Uniregistry, a domain marketplace, used smoke testing to test website features. The case study applies to companies that already have many customers whose reactions they can test.

Uniregistry smoke tested three products: a single-page website, a website builder, and web performance analytics. They built landing pages for each of these proposed products then tricked customers into believing these products were for sale. In reality, they hadn’t even been created.

The process enabled Uniregistry to assess demand. They discovered two of the three products had considerable demand, while the web analytics feature did not. With the data collected, they told customers that the products weren’t yet available. They said they would inform customers when they were released.

4. Study your competition closely

Visit your competitors’ websites, follow them on social media, sign up for their newsletters, and buy their products.

Another good way to measure the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors is to read customer reviews. This helps you avoid any mistakes they are making and adopt some of their winning strategies.

Remember that competition is a positive sign. If you can’t find anyone else selling what you’re planning to create, perhaps there’s no demand for it.

5. Talk to customers

While surveys and online feedback are useful, there’s no substitute for talking to customers directly.

Conducting interviews can be expensive and time-consuming, but you can do phone or video call interviews if your budget is limited. Talking to people lets you collect more qualitative data and observe people’s more nuanced reactions to a product. Meanwhile, a survey simply requires the person to check boxes.

In addition to researching customers and competitors, it’s helpful to look at the bigger picture. Follow industry leaders on social media, read industry or academic journals, and subscribe to relevant newsletters.

Keeping up with the latest news and trends in your industry puts you in a better position to anticipate the future. For example, you will want to know if an emerging technology is likely to render your new tech product obsolete within a couple of years.

7. Run a crowdfunding campaign

Crowdfunding doesn’t just help you raise money for a campaign—it also allows you to validate a product. You can run a campaign on a platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo even before you have a prototype to gauge interest in the idea. Potential investors often send in comments and questions about projects, which can help you identify the problems and improvements you need to make.

Product validation checklist

Here’s a checklist for product validation:

  • Define the project’s goals and timeline

  • Do feasibility testing, including the product’s market and technical feasibility

  • Release a prototype, beta version, or MVP of the product for testing

  • Conduct user validation tests

  • Analyze your data and make any necessary improvement

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