Flexible Product Development Process

1 Introduction

With the rapid development of information technology and more advanced infrastructure of new generation of telecommunication networks, economic structure is changing continuously from several years ago till now, the way of life is changing, especially e-commerce gradually be favored by the market, more and more Internet companies become popular such as Facebook, Google and Amazon. At the same time, competition increased, which means it is important to have a flexible product- development process. In the United States, there are roughly 20 new tech-companies founded each year, that reach $100 million in revenue [1]. So as a software development company, especially a new startup, it’s hard to compete with companies like these that are dominating the market. But that does not mean it’s impossible to make it successfully. So what is the correct product-developing approach is worth studying. Moreover, it will be the key point determines whether you can compete against same level competitors.

2 Approaches of Product Development

Nowadays, there are mainly two tested by market software development process which are traditional and flexible product development processes. The main different between them is the organizational structure: Traditional approach is linear while Flexible approach is Iterative. In the perspective of Project Scaling, Traditional approach is better to deal with large scale software while flexible approach is mainly for small and medium scale of software. User requirements are needed to be clearly defined before implementation when adopting Traditional approach while an interactive input of user requirements is welcomed in Flexible approach. Development model of Traditional approach is a life cycle while Flexible approach needs an evolutionary delivery in order to meet the user demand changing when developing process.

3 Navigator vs. Canva.com

Navigator is the first Web Browser designed for common people: at that time the Internet can only be used by technical users. Navigator has a big competitor, which is Microsoft, compared with the Microsoft developing team, Netscape has much less developers. So it is necessary to choose a proper developing method.

Canva is a young company founded in 2012, it provided a designing software that is very famous today. To compete with traditional software PhotoShop and Illustrator by Adobe as Netscape com- peted with Microsoft, it is nearly impossible or can only lives for a moment, but differently, Adobe designer’s software has already occupied the market for a long term while Netscape Navigator faced with almost the same starting point of Internet Explorer. Through surveying the market, Canva believed that Adobe’s PhotoShop was too complex and users needed a simpler design tool, so Canva

was created with the idea of making it possible for ordinary users to create their own designs. So Canva had to choose an different path.

3.1 Sensing the Market

3.1.1 Navigator

Sensing the tremendous opportunity that the browser held, Clark recruited Andreessen and together they founded Netscape. Netscape’s mission was to be the leading provider of open software that links people and information over the Internet and Intranets. In order to quickly create a market for its products, Netscape decided to give away its client browser free of charge. Netscape reasoned that by giving everyone a window to the Internet, users would accept the company’s technology and help develop it in new and creative ways. Gaining users feedback was important at Netscape, due to the head-to-head racing with Microsoft. Adopting this user feedback approach to sensing customer and market needs: broad consumer testing, broad internal testing, and testing by lead users.

3.1.2 Canva.com

If you received a piece of blank paper, a set of brushes, many kinds of paint, can a not well-trained person design something artistic simply? What about giving you a template and letting you change it? That is the need of Canva’s users. They want to make a poster, no need to spend hundreds of hours learning PhotoShop and Illustrator, or spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to hire a designer. They can design a poster in a web browser by themselves within a minute. That’s sounds as a good idea and Canva did it. The young company avoiding competitions of traditional designer’s software company – Adobe, instead, from a new perspective, that is lowering the designing difficulty and making it easy to let ordinary users can design. Users can make their own designs such as posters, animations, keynotes, Fackbook, Youtube, Instagram covers. In total, about 10 million users from 190 countries and regions are currently using Canva’s tools to create and distribute designs in 100 different languages, and even 80% of world top 500 companies use Canva. More than 100 million designs have published in Canva. It reached profitability in 2017 with 294,000 subscribe users. The company’s main revenue currently comes from paid membership: for a monthly fee of $12.95 or a one-time annual fee (which translates to $9.95 per month), users have access to the Canva platform’s premium features, including saving designs to different folders, automatically resizing designs for sharing with others on social media, and sharing with larger teams designs and collaborate with larger teams. Canva also has a design marketplace where designers, illustrators and photographers can place their work, and Canva users can purchase access to it from only $1. Compared to other software, Canva saves users the hassle of having to ask permission to use someone else’s designs or images.

3.2 Evolution

In 1994, Netscape founded and pioneered the easy-to-use Web browser [2] which is also the first software that have interface to provide access to the World Wide Web, it is an epochal invention, after that the World Wide Web is not can only be used by technicians and scientists. But there are many difficulties in developing Navigator, it needed to cross-platform which means it needed to support many different devices. Moreover, it faced the Microsoft, which has already developed its flexible product development process. After that, Navigator adopted Beta version to let valuable users experience, and got user feedback from them while kept evolving till the stable version released.

The Canva journey began back in 2007 when Melanie Perkins was studying at the University of

Western Australia. Melanie taught students how to use programs such as InDesign and Photoshop — programs that people found hard to learn and even harder to use. After coming up an idea for an online tool to create school yearbooks, Melanie and Canva co-founder Cliff Obrecht took out a loan and brought in a great tech team to build Fusion Books. Abd it is still going strong. It’s now the largest school yearbook publisher in Australia and has expanded into France and New Zealand. Melanie and Cliff believed their technology had applications beyond the yearbook market, and they knew they had to pursue their vision. Then, in 2012, Canva has launched, the same as Fusion Books, it adopted the Web application but not native applications as Photoshop, it determined that Canva is much more light-weighted and can be used by more people who want to design something with ease. Canva extends the market to the level of world-wide rapid designing solution. We can see that Canva was inherited from Fusion Books, with a change of audiences, the software involved, but we can see many similarities from them – Designing from templates, supporting printing and delivering services. It is easy to evolve Fusion Books to Canva due to Canva’s flexible product development process. No need to build from the very beginning, using Fusion Book as prototype software and add features instead.

3.3 Adopting Flexible Product Development Process

Netscape published many Beta Versions and get users feedback from valued users who are support- ive using the Beta Version Navigator, and adding features from learning about user feedback, finally release a stable version, the sequence of beta versions was extremely useful to Netscape because it enabled the development team to react both to feedback from users and to changes in the market- place while the team was still working on the Web browser’s design[2]. That is the development process Navigator 3.0, and it made sense during the seven-month development cycle. But unfortu- nately, with the binding selling of Internet Explorer by Microsoft Windows Operating System, user share of the Internet Explorer is much more higher than Navigator then, months after the ninth edition released, Netscape stopped maintained and developed the next generation, instead, the story of Mozilla Firefox began.

Canva as a startup business, turning the idea into reality is so urgent. The obstacles are how to gather the design templates from designers all over the world and how to achieve the ease of use interactive mode which Canva is ambitious of and attracting users from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. It is better to adopt the flexible product development process due to it’s attribute of time-to-market and easy of adding new features. That is the reason why Canva developed Canva.com Web application instead of traditional native purchased application mode as Adobe. Web application can meet the needs of users who are not well trained in using the complex designing software or even not can create a artistic design without having any Designing knowledge. At the same time, Canva listened from users, produced beta versions for users that are active in using Canva, and made changes with the help of users feedback. In these perspectives, it is necessary to use the flexible process which having the ability to bring new products to market with a minimum of disruption when markets, customers, technologies, or management direction changes frequently.

4 Conclusion

Making comparison between Netscape Navigator and Canva.com, the two products have many simi- larities as facing the competition against big companies and using the flexible software development approach, it have to say this development approach is quite fit for Netscape’s situation and it works.

However, there are much more differences between them not only in the business modes, they are in different ages, different startup points. The lose of Netscape Navigator may due to Microsoft’s monopolization on Windows Operating System while Canva made another business to reduce the

competition with Adobe. Although Navigator lose the competition, finally opened source code, it is still a successful case of adopting flexible, modern software development process, Canva also refer- ence this kind of approach, made it able to be developed and delivered to market rapidly. Totally speaking, flexible development process can empower a business in some aspects, software developers need to take a clearly analysis of their product and chose the most adaptive plan.


[1] Arjun Kohli. Marketing strategy for software development companies. 2021.

[2] Alan MacCormack Marco Iansiti. Developing Products on Internet Time. Harvard Business Review, 1997.