Product managers are the heartstring of product development teams. Their capability to align teams, employees, processes, and needs are often what primarily drives the product to fruition. But all great managers use some product tool, platform, or template.
Not just that – they are in a constant quest of finding a new software, knowing well that technology and customer needs are never static.
When referring to product development tools, people are usually thinking about one of the following:
- Product analytics software
- Development tracking tools
- Roadmapping software
But there are also other categories of helpful product dev tools, and we’ll be going through various ones below.
Read on to find out the best product development tools that can help define problem space, track backlog, prioritize tasks, inspire, and help delegate activities among teams.
What to Look Out for When Selecting Product Development Tools?
How do you know which tool or platform suits your needs the most? A tool that suits one product manager may be almost useless to another PM who delegates differently and works in another industry.
To find a suitable product dev tool, pay attention to the following:
- User Interface (UI) – Does the app’s user interface seem sleek, simple, and contemporary? Does it translate well on various operating systems (OSs), including mobile and PC versions?
- Usability – How hard is it to learn how to use the software? Does it provide sufficient customer support over various channels (smartphones, chatbots, live chats, emails)? Do they get training, qualifications, blogs, webinars, and similar learning aids available?
- Task Management – Does the tool include a mechanism to manage and arrange tasks related to a particular product? Is the task navigation solution adequate for product testing and development?
- Idea Collecting/Roadmap Creation – Not all features are “must-haves” immediately, thus a top-notch product development solution should reserve some room for functionality wishlists and brainstorming output.
- Product Specification Templates – Are product specification templates available in the product development platform? Where can you store functional information, documents, and discussions?
- Customer Feedback Aggregate – Does the application collect feedback from customers (or within the team) via email, chatbots, or CRM integrations? Does the aforementioned application convert the feedback into easily understood and usable results?
- Integrations: Does the product development platform include a mechanism to connect with first- and third-party applications to unlock more features? For example, a marketplace?
- Value for Money: How in line with the features, capacities, and use cases is the price tag? Is the cost transparent and flexible?
To organize effectively, a smart move would be to ask for the help of a product development consultancy that can streamline your business by helping you pick suitable tools.
The Most Useful Product Development Tools That Can Help Your Business
There are many tools available for product development that enable you to handle each stage of the process.
We’ll group these tools into these key categories to make them easier for you to understand:
- UX, UI design, and prototyping
- Product testing and feedback collecting
- Communication and team collaboration
Let’s dive in.
UX, UI Design, and Prototyping
These tools are useful for managing design and bringing imaginative ideas to realization. During the early stages, the whole team can explore and comment on elements of the build.
Here are apps and software that can improve speed, seamlessness, communication, and cross-departmental collaboration.
Proto.io focuses on seamless prototyping. You get a drag-and-drop interface, so it’s automatically easier for people to quickly grasp the functionalities, no matter their skill level. The tool comes with customizable templates, animations, and a component database equipped with native UI items. Your designers can also implement designs from other platforms.
A downside would be the limited wireframing options. You can preview prototypes and export them to HTML and PDF, but not much else.
Figma is a popular cloud platform that offers easy and real-time collaboration. This platform is an end-to-end prototyping tool. Your developers and designers can make prototypes by ordering frames on the screen or linking objects with connectors. Commenting is available so other team members can chip in with feedback.
Easy remote sharing, universal assets, access to all members – all of this makes Figma enticing.
A drawback can be the dashboard which seems disorganized to some. Also, a better selection of mark-up tools would be nice to have.
Product Testing and Feedback Collecting
Today many good tools come with preformatted questionnaires and interactive platforms where you can track user behavior in real-time.
Drop-down lists, open comment fields, pie charts showing where you need to step up your product game – there are features galore.
Often, people shudder when asked to fulfill a survey because they anticipate a tedious questionnaire. Typeform flips this concept on its head by giving test subjects forms, surveys, quizzes, and other diverse forms to keep people engaged. That potentially leads to a higher response rate and encourages honest feedback.
You don’t need to code or create templates – they come ready. Also, Typeform has extensive support for third-party integrations.
Hotjar is a user-centric tool that tracks users’ behavior and gives quality qualitative and quantitative data. As a PM, you can gain insight into where visitors are clicking, how far they scroll, how far down the funnel you lose them, etc.
The biggest plus of Hotjar is heatmaps. That software visually represents the user’s on-site behavior. You can also record and playback live sessions, watching users as they interact with the website to identify problem spots.
Communication and Team Collaboration
When you are in the product dev business or any other business that asks for cross-departmental collaboration, you will want to have an easy way to communicate with the team.
Slack gives you an easy and immediate way of communicating with your team. It’s cloud-based and provides a centralized database of recorded conversations, not accessible to every team member necessarily.
You can share design assets, collect feedback, send design updates, and integrate with nearly 2,500 tools, as well as custom ones!
Recognizing that communication is key, you’ll find plenty of integrations with communication tools such as Slack, Google Drive, Confluence, and Dropbox.
Trello is a cloud-based tool that’s robust and provides a user-friendly way of tracking the workflow.
Moreover, you can share various items with team members by grouping them into Boards and then creating individual Cards that you can name “In Progress,” “Done,” etc. Trello gives you a place where you can put your roadmap into action and keep your backlog organized.
There are many integrations with other tools on the list like Slack, as well as Google Drive, and Dropbox.
Helpful product dev tools are easy to find, but they are not a perfect fit for everyone. Do thorough research and listen to feedback from your team to figure out which tools and platforms would help scale your business the most.