Product Development Life Cycle

Published Jun 13, 2022Updated Jan 5, 2024
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The Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC) is a cross-functional, iterative process that can be viewed as five stages: brainstorm, define, design, test, and launch.

PDLC Process

The PDLC usually involves many stakeholders across an organization. This process starts from a problem or pain point to ensure that product development meets a real user need and that the whole team is aligned around the same goals.

UI and UX designers can use the stated goals and definitions from the PDLC to ensure their work meets the captured requirements and to facilitate smooth collaboration with other stakeholders.

The Five Stages

The PDLC consists of the following five stages:

  1. Brainstorm: Starting from a defined problem or pain point, the team brainstorms all possible solutions. Market or user research can help inspire ideas.
  2. Define: The team aligns on specifications for the product by defining the vision, goals, target users, features, benefits, and success metrics.
  3. Design: The product is designed from low-fidelity to high-fidelity, starting with sketches and wireframes and moving to prototypes and a completed interface.
  4. Test: The product or prototype is tested to ensure it works as intended. Testing can range from informal internal testing of low-fidelity prototypes to usability testing of a high-fidelity prototype or final product by external users.
  5. Launch: The final design is released to the public, but the cycle doesn’t end here. Typically, testing continues even after the product has launched, and the cycle continues.

A cycle diagram representing the five stages of the Product Development Life Cycle: Brainstorm, Define, Design, Test, Launch.

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