Taking product development to the sixth dimension

New product development (NPD) is often depicted as moving through several stages. From the experience of leading projects of varying sizes, particularly developing web-based business systems, in 2001 I created a 4D framework describing the four key product development project stages (which I structured to begin with ‘D’). At the time, I called this “the four dimensions of web development”.

Over the five years since, based on experience of applying this framework, I have now established 6 key stages (not necessarily linear) — which I still managed to name starting with a ‘D’, so it has now evolved to become 6D.

Discover >> Define >> Design >> Develop >> Deploy >> Disseminate

These stages are further defined below, with their purpose, typical actions, deliverables, and end results. Please note, this was a beginning state for projects; once the consultation / discovery stage was complete, we were able to tailor the framework to suit the project, as with the example below (click to enlarge):


Spend time with client discovering their organisation’s objectives and project goals.


Determine the Strategy and Method of project; and analyse client’s Audience and Industry. 

Note: While the model suggests that it is linear, this was primarily because most of our clients wanted an agreed scope up front. Where possible, we would negotiate for ongoing discovery in parallel with development.


Project management approach documented.

  • Feasibility study
  • ŸSite usability review
  • ŸBusiness case
  • Communication brief


Explore the relationship between organisation objectives, project goals, and technical constraints.


Define the client’s Requirements, within the Strategy and Method; set Budget, assign Team, and create Schedule; and determine approach to Quality Assurance.


Requirements registered; project planned; and testing planned.

  • Requirements register / Product Backlog
  • ŸProduct breakdown and descriptions
  • Project plan
  • Quality plan
  • Project initiation document (PID)


Produce overall design for solution to meet defined requirements.


Establish the Framework for the remainder of the project.


Content audited, information architecture specified, page layout designed, user journeys mapped, functionality specified, and hardware specified.

  • Content delivery plan
  • Site map
  • Wire frames
  • Use cases
  • Functional specification
  • Purchased hardware


Translate design by applying the approved methods to build the solution


Develop Concepts; work through an agreed number of iterations, evolving the solution from an early Prototype to Completed Solution; check completed solution meets business and quality criteria; and configure and install the Operational Infrastructure.

Note: With customers who were keen for iterative delivery, the completed solution would evolve incrementally.


Graphic design specified; web, intranet and database developed; solution tested; and completed solution that meets the Requirements, Goals and Strategy.

  • design concepts
  • design style guide
  • built pages
  • developed software
  • built database
  • integrated systems
  • test records
  • hardware configuration


Gain approval for and implement the completed solution.


Support client through Acceptance Trials to the formal sign-off of Approved Solution; and  implement Approved Solution onto Operational Infrastructure.

Note: With customers who were keen for iterative delivery, the solution would be approved and deployed incrementally.


Approved Solution and supported environment

  • Content management availability
  • Monitoring secure
  • Managed hosting
  • Operational solution


Assist client in creating appropriate audience for the operational solution


Run training sessions for Key Users; promote approved solution to intended audience; implement metrics to gauge success; and conduct Post-Launch Review.


Trained users; awareness of and traffic to website, measured traffic, goals, and campaigns; and lessons learned.

  • Training
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Direct email  marketing
  • Web metrics
  • End project report

As mentioned in other articles, a model is only a simplified way of codifying an area of study or business that is broad and deep and can take a lifetime to master; when the model is based around specific letters (whether they spell out a word or are all the same letter) you know that that simplification has been taken to another level. Nevertheless, such models do help us to more easily recall the breadth.

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