7 top tips for software product development

12 min read
February 9, 2024

The software product market is rapidly growing and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

After reaching a value of $1.6 trillion in 2024, it’s expected to grow even more to an incredible $2.5 trillion by 2028.

So, getting into software product development sounds like a great choice, right?

And it is – but, you need to do it right.

That’s why we’ll discuss 7 top tips for software product development that will help you do just that.

Let’s dive in!

What is software product development?

Software product development is the process of building software that’s intended to be sold and marketed to customers.

It includes everything you usually do when building software, from requirements gathering to deployment, testing, and maintenance.

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But, it’s not the same exact thing as software development.

To develop a software product, you also need to do:

  • Marketing
  • Customer support
  • Market research
  • Product strategy and planning

So, it’s not just building working software – it’s building a product that can be successful in the market.

Top tips for software product development

Now, let’s discuss some top tips that will help you develop a successful software product.

Research your target audience first

If you want to develop a successful software product, it’s essential you research your target audience first.

In other words, if you want to know what to build, you need to know who you’re building it for.

Researching your target audience and finding out their needs is the most important step in market research.

Target market vs target audience vs target personas

Without it, you won’t get a product-market fit.

And that’s essential if you want your product to be successful like investor Marc Andreessen said:

The only thing that matters is getting to product/market fit. Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

So, what’s the best way to research your target audience?

There’s a simple answer – you should do product discovery.

Product discovery is the process of researching your market and validating your product idea before developing it.

Doing discovery will help you get a clear understanding of your users’ needs and pain points.

Just make sure you use a variety of research methods, like:

  • User interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • A/B testing
  • Focus groups
  • Social media listening

This way, you’ll get a deep understanding of your target audience and how your product can meet their needs.

And that’s how you build a software product that lasts.

Why it’s important

  • Gets you to a product-market fit – researching your target audience will ensure that your product actually meets the needs of your users and market
  • Helps you prioritize features – engaging with your users will help you identify features that are important to them, which you should then prioritize
  • Reduces risk of failure – understanding your audience will help you build a product that actually resonates with them, increasing its chances of success

Prioritize user experience (UX)

Your users’ experience should be the main focus of your software product’s development.

And for a good reason, too.

A Forrester study showed that a good UX design can increase conversion rates by up to 400%.

So, it’s no surprise that for every $1 invested in UX you get a $100 in return – that’s an incredible ROI of 9,900%.

UX return of investment

So, how can you make sure your software product has good UX?

Steve Jobs summed it up like this:

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”

The key to that is understanding your users’ needs – we’ve already covered how you can do that.

Another good way to improve your product’s UX is by designing it with accessibility in mind.

You should follow established guidelines like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG):

WCAG 2.0

If you do, you’ll be building a user-friendly product with good UX from the start.

And that’s key to a successful product.

Why it’s important

  • Improves user satisfaction – a software product with good UX will have a much easier time retaining users, which is key for long-term success
  • Drives conversion rates – if your product is straightforward and easy to use, you’ll have improved conversion rates 
  • Improves your product’s accessibility – prioritizing UX includes making your product more accessible, which will increase its reach

Build an MVP

The best way to make sure your software product can succeed in the market is by building a minimum viable product (MVP).

An MVP is a bare-bones version of your product with only the essential features.

It’s the ultimate idea validation tool that will show you if your product actually resonates with your users.

So, how do you build an MVP?

MVP development isn’t just building working software and calling it a day – you need to build a usable product.

Here’s how you should approach it:

MVP development approach

Your first step should be prioritizing which features you’ll include in your MVP.

You should use feature prioritization frameworks like:

  • MoSCoW (Must have/Should have/Could have/Won’t have)
  • RICE (Reach/Impact/Confidence/Effort)
  • Value vs. effort
  • Kano

Once you’ve done that, you can start developing your product – we’ve written a step-by-step guide showing you how to do it.

Then comes the most important step – getting feedback on your MVP.

You’ll get a lot of valuable feedback you can use to iterate on your product and improve it.

And that’s how you can set it up for success.

Why it’s important

  • Minimizes development costs – since you’re only building core features, you’ll develop your product much faster which will drive your costs down
  • Gets your product to market faster – with an MVP, you can enter your target market faster which is crucial if you’re in a very competitive market
  • Helps secure funding – if you’re a startup, an MVP shows investors that your product is viable and that can help you secure funding for further development

Use Agile methodologies

Using Agile methodologies when developing your software product is one of the best ways to build a quality product.

Implementing them allows you to be flexible during development and respond quickly to changing requirements.

And that flexibility is key to successful development.

So, what should your Agile teams look like? And which methodologies should you use?

Agile teams are cross-functional by design.

So, your team should include:

  • Software engineers
  • QA engineers
  • Designers
  • Product managers

And they’ll work better together with Agile methodologies like:

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Crystal

You should pick the one that best suits your team and your product’s requirements.

But, Scrum is the most popular methodology, with 81% of Agile teams using Scrum or Scrum hybrids.

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Scrum divides your software product’s development cycle into smaller (2-4 week) iterations called sprints.

Each sprint is like a mini development cycle – this approach enables your team to work quickly and efficiently.

That means your product will get to market faster, which can mean the difference between its failure and success.

And that’s exactly what you should be aiming for.

Why it’s important

  • Makes your development flexible – Agile methodologies are flexible by design, which makes pivoting or changing requirements during development easier
  • Improves product quality – testing and quality assurance are key to Agile development, which means you’ll be building a better product
  • Improves collaboration – Agile methodologies are inherently collaborative and adopting them will help your team work better together

Optimize your product for performance

Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow, once said: “Performance is a feature.”

And he was right – optimizing your software product for performance can make your product stand out from the competition.

Your users want good performance, too.

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According to Google’s research, 53% of users will leave a website or app if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

So, how can you optimize your product’s performance?

A good place to start is by using cloud computing services like:

They will help make your product scalable while also delivering good, consistent performance.

But, there’s a number of ways you can directly improve your software product’s performance, like:

  • Optimizing your product’s code
  • Updating third-party plugins
  • Limiting background processes
  • Compressing images and reducing file sizes

You should also invest in monitoring tools like Splunk or Nagios – they’ll help you quickly  respond to any drops in performance.

And that’s key to delivering a consistently good experience to your users.

Why it’s important

  • Improves UX – performance metrics like load times and responsiveness directly affect your product’s UX and if it’s not optimized, you might lose your users
  • Helps you get a competitive advantage – if you’re in a competitive market and your product has superior performance, you can stand out from the crowd
  • Supports scalability – when your product is optimized, it can scale much more easily which is essential for future growth

Implement continuous product discovery

We’ve already talked about how important researching your users is if you want to develop a successful software product.

But, it shouldn’t be just a one-time thing – you should consistently engage with your users.

And the best way to do that is by implementing continuous product discovery.

But, what is continuous product discovery? And how should you do it?

Teresa Torres, author of Discovery Habits, defines it like this:

“At a minimum, weekly touchpoints with customers by the team building the product, where they’re conducting small research activities in pursuit of a desired product outcome.”

In other words, it’s the process of regularly researching your users to improve your product.

Here’s how it works:

Continuous product discovery

With continuous discovery, you’ll be able to stay on top of your users’ needs and market trends.

What you’re looking to create is a feedback loop.

Customer feedback loop

Just make sure you use a mix of qualitative and quantitative user research methods for the best results.

A feedback loop will help you continuously collect, analyze, and act on your users’ feedback to improve your software product.

And that’s the secret behind building a successful product.

Why it’s important

  • Helps you adapt to users’ evolving needs – continuous discovery is the best way you can stay on top of your users’ evolving needs and market trends
  • Minimizes wasted effort – with continuous discovery, you’ll know exactly which features/updates to add and won’t waste time and resources on features your users don’t want
  • Builds strong relationships with customers – being constantly in touch with your customers will help you build strong, long-term relationships with them

Rigorously test your product

When you’re developing your software product, excellent quality should be non-negotiable.

Poor software quality costs U.S. companies at least $2.42 trillion every year.

Rigorous testing will help you avoid being caught up in that statistic – that’s why strict QA and testing protocols are an absolute must.

And you’ll get other benefits from testing, like:

Benefits of software testing

So, how do you make sure your software product is thoroughly tested?

To start, you need to create a detailed testing strategy.

A detailed strategy will help your QA team work more efficiently and plan tests more efficiently.

Also, it’s a good idea to start testing early in your product’s development cycle.

Fixing bugs later in the cycle will cost you a lot more money:

Cost of defects

Also, make sure your team uses a variety of testing methods like:

  • Unit testing
  • Integration testing
  • Load testing
  • Regression testing

This way, you’ll make sure your software product works properly before you launch it.

And that’s the best way to earn your users’ trust.

Why it’s important

  • Ensures quality and reliability – rigorous testing and QA ensures your product meets quality standards and works as intended
  • Reduces post-launch issues – fixing bugs and issues during testing will reduce the risk of post-launch issues, which are costlier to fix
  • Speeds up development – if you start testing early, you’ll catch issues before they become a major problem which speeds up your overall development process

Top tips for software product development: FAQs

What is software product development?

Software product development is the process of building software that’s intended to be sold and marketed to customers.

What are the best tips for software product development?

They are:

  • Research your target audience first
  • Prioritize user experience (UX)
  • Build an MVP
  • Use Agile methodologies
  • Optimize your product for performance
  • Implement continuous product discovery
  • Rigorously test your product

Why is building an MVP important when developing a software product?

Building an MVP is important because it’s more cost-effective and will help you get to market faster.

Which Agile methodologies should I use when developing a software product?

You should use Scrum, Kanban, XP or Crystal – pick the one that best suits your engineering team and your project requirements.

Need help building your software product?

Have a great idea for a software product but don’t know how to make it happen?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

We can help you build and grow your product from start to finish.

If you want to learn more, check out our software engineering process and feel free to get in touch with us.

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Written by

Ante Baus

CDO

Ante is a true expert. Another graduate from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, he’s been a DECODEr from the very beginning. Ante is an experienced software engineer with an admirably wide knowledge of tech. But his superpower lies in iOS development, having gained valuable experience on projects in the fintech and telco industries. Ante is a man of many hobbies, but his top three are fishing, hunting, and again, fishing. He is also the state champ in curling, and represents Croatia on the national team. Impressive, right?

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