Introduction: Invite your most creative or active community members into a dedicated question board focus group to discuss product development opportunities in further depth. Use the opportunity to understand the trade-offs that participants are willing to make and the reasons behind these choices. Use rich, qualitative detail to inform the next stage of your NPD process.
Method: Start by educating your chosen participants about the restraints that stakeholders have. For a successful focus group, community members must understand the context in which the business operates and why the trade-offs must exist. Common reasons for focusing on one element or another include: time restrictions, market needs, competitor offerings and budgetary concerns.
A Collaborative Development Forum
Now that consumers have been educated on the reasons that trade-offs must exist, use threads to organise the different elements you want to gather opinion on. Introduce each thread as a binary choice, e.g. do you favour design or comfort, memory or performance, size or convenience etc.
Invite participants to comment on each thread, explaining their choice and why that product feature is important to them. Throughout the course of the focus group introduce additional choices that give participants a reason to come back and check threads frequently. Prompt participants where required to continue refining the product parameters.
Benefit: Ultimately it is customers who will decide the success of your product. Therefore integrating them into the process earlier, resolving feature trade-offs and finalising the product specification ensures that your finished item is both desirable and achievable.
Let your customers prioritise product features by creating a development heirarchy brainstorm.