In both the SaaS world and consumer products, product iterations are par for the course. You launch something and you make it better and better. But what does it really mean to iterate? And how you can develop future product iterations that will continue to win over customers?
In this guide, we define a clear process, showcase a few examples, and offer expert advice to help you master the iterative development process.
What is an iterative approach in product development?
An iterative process should follow the agile project methodology, meaning it’s all about launching quickly, getting feedback from the market, and building better features.
An iterative approach includes these 6 steps:
Define a sprint or initial product
In SaaS product development, teams usually work in two-week sprints. But for consumer products, a first product iteration would be the full product, not one small sprint. Whatever you’re building, the first step is always to define it based on your market research and stakeholder input.
Craft the sprint or product plan
Once you’ve defined what the initial development sprint should be, it’s time to craft a detailed plan. This should include collaborators, resources, the backlog, timelines, and acceptance criteria.
Build the sprint or product
Next, it’s time to develop the sprint and collaborate on its backlog tasks. Release it – The next step is to release that sprint, perhaps to a subset of users or your entire user base.
Evaluate the sprint or product
Collect feedback from customers and leads about your new feature. Find out their impression of its importance and how well it satisfies their needs. You can use qualitative data (like interviews, user testing sessions, focus groups, and open-ended surveys) as well as quantitative data (like product analytics and multiple choice or rating surveys).
Start the process over again
Once you’ve collected feedback from your market, start back at the first step. Determine the most important features to build next, define your sprint, update your product roadmap, and release the next iteration.
Every product iteration should strengthen product value
The most important thing to remember when following an iterative process is to use your product value as your guiding light. Learn what your product values are (by talking with your customers) and make sure that each new iteration continues to strengthen these values, instead of diluting or negating them.
For example, if your main product value is affordability, then you shouldn’t build a new product iteration that will cost so much that you have to double your price. Or if your main value is simplicity and ease of use, then shouldn’t build complex features requested by a small subset of users when the majority of your users want you to keep things simple.
3 examples of iterative product development
Want to see real product iterations? Check out these useful examples from successful companies.
Loom building their most requested feature
Loom recently announced that they built their Number 1 most requested feature, stitching videos together.
Here’s the product marketing video they released to explain the product update: