The Top 4 Modern Design Methodologies to Stop Product Failure and Boost ROI


PRODUCT FAILURE: Most product failure is due to inaccurate assumptions about business and user needs.

SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT: A successful product is desirable to users, viable to the business, and feasible to build.

MODERN METHODOLOGIES: Combine balanced team, user-centered, lean, and agile design methodologies for higher efficiency and success.

BALANCED TEAM: A balanced team has the right balance of skills to be autonomous and support the completion of product goals.

USER CENTERED: User-centered design focuses on understanding users in order to create desirable and usable products.

LEAN DESIGN: Lean Design investigates and validates assumptions regarding user needs with as few resources as possible.

AGILE DESIGN: The goal of Agile Design is to improve the design in small iterative increments.

In today’s uncertain business market, companies around the world are struggling to stay above water amidst the unforeseen pandemic. With unemployment soaring and businesses closing doors, there is suddenly less room than ever before for business errors and product failures.

Why Products Fail

In his book, “Winning at New Products”, distinguished Penn State University researcher Robert Cooper writes that nearly half of the resources invested into product development end up wasted on products that firms cancel or products that produce an inadequate financial return. In a separate article, “Identifying Industrial New Product Success,” a study of successful and unsuccessful products, Cooper estimates that the rate of product failure is as high as 48%. This places product success rates for most businesses below 60% – a less than reassuring number.

“Rate of product failure is as high as 48%. This places product success rates for most businesses below 60%”

Why Products Fail?

Oftentimes, product failure can be attributed to a lack of balance between cross-functional product teams and the product needs which they are solving for. When this happens, too much emphasis is placed on solving either business goals, user needs, or technical features, instead of focusing on the full scope of product needs.

How To Build Successful Products

To be successful, a product must solve user needs, as well as support a sustainable business value, and be realistic to build. To achieve these three requirements, collaborative relationship needs to exist between designers, developers, and product managers.

Methods to Approach Product Design

How you approach product design is essential. A good approach to product design will serve to maximize performance, eliminate unprofitable use of time and money, de-risk product ideas, and increase the overall value of product deliverables. While there are several different strategies for approaching product design, one of the most efficient and reliable approaches is achieved by combining practices and principles from four modern methodologies:

  • User-Centered Design
  • Lean Startup
  • Agile Software Development
  • Balanced Teams

Balanced Team Methodology

A balanced team is made up of cross-disciplinary members who possess the right balance of skills, perspectives, and resources needed to support the completion of product goals. Having a balanced variety of skills and perspectives allows the team to function on its own, make informed product decisions, and use iterative delivery.

Common Roles of a Balanced Team: Product manager, developers, designers, researchers, stakeholders, and client liaison.

User-centered Design Methodology

User-centered design focuses on understanding the goals, challenges, and context of users throughout the complete user experience. This is done by engaging users via a combination of investigative and generative tools throughout each phase of the design process, and enables design teams to create desirable and usable products.

Common Practices of a User-centered Design: Formative, generative and summative research.

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Lean Design Methodology

Lean Design emphasizes using minimal resources to create value-driven, user-centered products by investigating and validating assumptions about what users really need. A core element of Lean Design is the principle of continuous improvement via the build-measure-learn cycle.

The build-measure-learn cycle begins with ideas and involves building a minimal viable product (MVP) for users to try so that designers can measure their reactions and learn from the results. Based on their discoveries, designers will create a new small product for users to try and continue testing assumptions in order to learn what users really want as quickly as possible.

See example on how to utilize lean design methodology to ideate and validate: Samba Safety Qorta SaaS

Common Practices of Lean Design: Minimum Viable Product (MVP), actionable metrics, pivot or persevere, build-measure-learn cycles, lean business canvas.

“By the time that it is ready for wide distribution, the product will already have established users.”

Agile Design Methodology

Agile design is an iterative method that enables teams to be quick and flexible, in response to user feedback and changing requirements, without sacrificing quality. In agile design, product requirements are divided into multiple increments that can be worked on and delivered independently through a collaborative process, involving continuous requirement changes and user validation.

Common Practices of Agile Design: Expecting changes in requirements, shared vision, frequent communication, small and frequent releases.

“The goal of Agile Design is not to create a design deliverable, but to improve the design in small iterative increments.”


Combining practices and principles from the balanced team, user-centered, lean, and agile design methodologies, will streamline design processes for higher efficiency and success – enabling designers and their teams to release quality, meaningful products more often.