What to Look for When Hiring a Digital Product Development Partner

As a company founder, you know how integral digital product development is to achieving success. Today more than ever, where consumers and businesses are increasingly engaging in the digital space, it's essential to have dynamic products that captivate your audience and foster loyalty

However, finding the right partner to bring these products to life can be tricky; it requires research, knowledge of your business objectives, and due diligence. 

In this blog post, we'll discuss what steps you should take when hiring a digital product development partner—from considering skill sets to how we can help—so that you can make an informed decision for successful long-term alignment with the best fit for your specific needs.

What is a digital partner?

A reliable development partner is crucial for businesses seeking to create innovative products and streamline their development process. A digital partner can take on various roles depending on the needs of the business, ranging from designing and developing products to implementing and managing complex software development systems. A digital product development team can help businesses stand out, increase efficiency, and achieve their goals by acting as trusted advisors.  

With the continued growth of technology and digital transformation, the role of the digital partner is becoming increasingly important, providing an essential service for businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve.

9 qualities to look for when hiring a digital product development partner

Now that we have gone over the aspects of a digital partner, let’s dive deeper into what a digital product development partner has to offer. Below are eight qualities to look for in a digital product development partner that will contribute significantly to your project's success:

1. Ability to understand business goals and needs  

A partner who has a deep knowledge and understanding of your organization, its unique goals, and the challenges you face provides invaluable insights and strategic support that can accelerate growth and boost performance. The right partner knows where you're coming from, what drives you, and how to help you succeed. 

By understanding your business in-depth, they can create bespoke solutions and prototypes that incorporate customer research and feedback. This mitigates the risk of squandering valuable resources by validating concepts early and often before jumping in.

Your partner should possess an astute business sense and understand how creating products or services can foster growth and serve the target audience better. Their insight into your organization's mission will give them access to innovative strategies and ideas to help realize ambitious objectives. At the same time, their knowledge of the target audience will ensure that tailored solutions perfectly fit their needs. 

If the development partner lacks a clear understanding of how the product relates to the broader business objectives and requirements, they cannot create a superior product that ultimately drives company growth. 

The purpose of a product is not just to exist but to either generate more revenue or reduce costs. Creating a product without a clear understanding of how it aligns with these two objectives is a mistake. (Plus, no one wants to spend $150k and six months building a product no one wants.)

To achieve those objectives, a development partner must fully understand how the product fits into the larger picture. This means understanding the company's long-term vision, target audience, user needs, and competitive landscape. 

Without a grasp of these critical factors, a development partner may end up delivering a product that fails to meet the target audience's expectations or deliver business value. The product should serve as a tool to drive the growth of the business, not take it down.

2. Experience and expertise

As we move into the future, adopting a behavioral-first approach (use promo code “development partner” to receive your free eBook copy) will be the key differentiator for companies looking to gain an edge over their competitors. For example, in today's market, numerous fitness apps are available, and simply having a visually appealing app with all the desired features is not enough to set yourself apart from the competition. 

Gone are the days when a fantastic idea and a well-designed product were enough to capture users' attention. Such products are ubiquitous, and users crave more from their experiences. 

Instead, we must understand the human experience before we build the digital experience. 

It is necessary to know the underlying behaviors that drive users' actions and design products that cater to those motivations. By adopting a human-centered approach that focuses on the user's needs and motivations, companies can stand out in a crowded market and create meaningful, long-lasting relationships with their users. An experienced partner understands the importance of building for the human experience first before building the digital experience. 

It's no longer enough to simply find a cost-effective coding shop. By working with a partner that applies human-centered design, the focus is on finding out what drives behavior and bringing the product that addresses this to life. 

A human-centered approach that integrates behavioral principles makes a product more likely to be well-received and have a greater impact. In short, it can lead to a more successful outcome for both the users and the business.

3. Collaboration and communication

A good partner will work closely with you along the way, showing you the process and the secrets to how they do their work. They focus on educating you throughout the process, sharing their methodologies and expertise. This collaborative approach empowers you to be more involved and proactive in decision-making, leading to better outcomes.

Your ideas and vision are integrated into the final product by fostering open communication. This collaborative approach is reminiscent of the adage, "teach a person to fish." Beyond receiving a product, your company gains a fresh perspective on approaching and launching new products, resulting in long-term benefits even after the project is completed. A really good partner will also help upskill your team.

4. Project management

Having a development partner that can adapt to changing circumstances as the project evolves is essential. As you build, priorities may shift, customer needs may differ from what was initially expected, and unforeseen challenges may arise. 

While detailed project plans are beneficial, partnering with a team that can rapidly adjust to changing conditions is equally important. A flexible and resilient development partner can help ensure the project stays on track, even as external factors and internal priorities shift. 

To evaluate their approach, you should…

  • Assess their communication style and project planning skills
  • Ask them how they navigate differing opinions across both internal and external stakeholders
  • Understand their ability to establish clear objectives and outcomes
  • Monitor their processes

5. Storytelling Ability

Research insights can provide valuable information that helps guide decision-making, identify gaps in the market, and explore new opportunities. However, simply having this data is not enough to ensure the success of a project. How these insights are shared with the internal team is critical to obtaining buy-in and achieving project goals.

Your partner should have the knowledge and expertise to conduct thorough research and strong communication skills. In particular, they should be able to convey findings in a way that is engaging and compelling for the rest of the team. 

Being able to condense numerous insights into an easily understandable format and creating a compelling narrative around them adds significant value to a project. If your partner cannot communicate their findings effectively, it will be difficult for the project to move forward and gain the necessary support from the internal team.

6. Technical skills

Finding a digital partner with the technical expertise and capabilities to meet your needs is paramount. But with many options available, how can you be sure you're making the right choice? 

The key is to dig into the technicalities. Start by examining their qualifications and experience—do they have a track record of successful projects? Do they know how to build faster product features?

When evaluating a partner's technical proficiency and innovation, ask for examples of their previous work, case studies, and client testimonials. Don't hesitate to ask detailed questions about their problem-solving approach and commitment to staying up-to-date with industry trends. 

While there are multiple ways to build a solution, it's important to consider the end goal and choose a tech stack that aligns with their expertise in that area rather than just selecting a technology and trying to force it to fit. A partner with strong technical proficiency will be well-equipped to bring your vision to life. 

7. Quality assurance and testing

A faulty product can have significant consequences for your business, including negative reviews, loss of customer trust, and damage to your reputation. That’s why it is critical to have a robust quality assurance process in place to ensure that digital products meet the highest quality standards. 

When evaluating a partner's quality assurance and testing processes, ask detailed questions about their methodology, tools, and approach. The answers should provide a clear understanding of how the partner tests products, manages the process, and ensures that the final product meets the highest quality standards.

A partner who demonstrates a strong commitment to quality assurance and testing will help you minimize the risk of launching a product with defects or performance issues. This commitment will contribute to a successful product launch and a positive user experience

8. Building a prototype and getting it in front of users to test resonance 

Building and testing prototypes with real users is a crucial step in the digital product development process. A partner who prioritizes prototyping and user validation will help you ensure that your product meets the needs and expectations of its intended audience before investing significant time and resources in full-scale development.

An effective prototyping process involves creating and iterating on early-stage product concepts, incorporating user feedback, and making necessary adjustments based on the insights gathered. This agile, iterative approach allows for course corrections and improvements at each stage of the development process, reducing the risk of launching a product that falls short of user expectations or fails to deliver business value.

When assessing a partner's approach to prototyping and user validation, look for examples of how they have incorporated this process into their previous projects. A partner who is committed to validating product concepts and gathering user feedback early in the development process will be better equipped to create a product that resonates with your target audience and achieves your business goals.

It's important to develop an effective approach for validating products rather than just asking customers whether they like the product or not. In the words of Henry Ford, "If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." This suggests that people may not always directly express a need for a new product or solution but rather identify underlying behaviors and needs.

9. Post-launch support

Digital product development doesn't end with the product's launch. Choosing a partner who understands the importance of post-launch support and maintenance is crucial. Ongoing updates, enhancements, and bug fixes are often necessary to ensure the product's continued success.

Not only does post-launch support help address problems, but it also demonstrates that you value your customers and their satisfaction. Implementing it can foster long-term customer relationships and improve your brand's success. 

A partner who offers comprehensive post-launch support will be invested in your product's long-term performance, helping you address any issues that arise and making improvements based on user feedback and market trends. This level of commitment can contribute to the product's longevity and sustained success.

When evaluating a partner's post-launch support and maintenance offerings, ask about their approach to addressing issues, their availability for ongoing support, and any associated costs. A partner committed to providing reliable post-launch support will help you maintain and enhance your digital product over time, ensuring it continues to deliver value to your users.

How Patent355 is in the best position to help

At Patent355, we prioritize three key areas—customer pain, product experience, and market validation—to ensure the success of our process. Through advisory and consulting and custom-built workshops, we delve into each area to create and validate digital experiences that exceed customer expectations and provide them with a seamless and enjoyable experience.

Our team integrates behavioral science and human-centered design into our work, enabling us to understand the human experience in-depth and create products tailored to an audience's unique needs and behaviors. Validating these areas early and often allows us to create digital experiences that result in satisfied customers and successful outcomes.

We don't just talk the talk; we also walk the walk by incubating our own products with the latest technology. This ensures that we are always up to date on the latest trends and can provide reliable and cutting-edge solutions. With ongoing optimization and post-launch support, your digital product is guaranteed the best possible chance of success.

Getting started

Choosing the right digital product development partner is crucial for the success of your project. When assessing potential partners, consider their expertise in your industry, their ability to develop innovative solutions tailored to your project's specific needs, and their commitment to collaboration and ongoing support.

Additionally, look for a partner with strong communication abilities and creative problem-solving skills who can work alongside you from the initial concept through final delivery and optimization. Finally, ensuring compatible values are shared between both of you helps create an environment conducive to collaboration and success. 

So, if you're looking for a digital product development partner, you’re in the right place. Book your call today.

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