DesignResearch & Development

Product design basics and guidelines

Product design is something that many people wish to do but get discouraged because they think they have no creative bone in their body to produce great designs. The truth, however, is that product design is more about the mindset more than anything – more than learning the tools, methods and techniques that product designers use. If you want to develop this mindset and think like a product designer, we have some tips that can help.

To innovate is to come up with a new idea. You do not want to come up with a product design of something that already exists on the local or global markets unless you want to face stiff competition (and be accused of stealing other people’s designs). And the good thing about innovation is that you can build on existing products and see how they can be improved to create something new for consumers.

An attractive product design, prototype or finished product can evoke positive emotions in consumers on a global scale. Coming up with designs that are not attractive puts your product at a disadvantage because you must work extra to persuade consumers or investors to look at your product in a positive light. This can seriously hamper your global marketing efforts because, in the end, the consumers will not look at it and will eventually tune it out.

Many things can stop your product design from even reaching the prototype phase, but that should not make you hold back on unleashing your creativity. Designing anything is about possibilities, even when there are some obvious constraints to consider. Always keep your eye on the big picture when designing and you will do yourself and your consumers a great service.

Do not make designs that are complex; complexity is not always a good thing. So, make sure your designs are simple enough, so they do not give consumers a tough time when they decide to use them. And this just does not apply to consumers only; simple designs are also easy to prototype, test and manufacture. So, if your design is complex, do your best to make it as simple as possible.

All great designers have that voice inside of them telling them that their design could be a little better. You must also have this voice that pushes you to be persistent in making your design perfect for the global market. When it comes designing products that service consumers and their needs, there is always room for improvement.

It is highly unlikely your first product design will be “the one” that will become your greatest creation. You will probably come up with a few bad designs in the process before you come up with a good one, and this can come with some frustrations. The good product designer will embrace this frustration and will embrace it in their mind.

As you can see, having the right mindset is key to be a great product designer. Great product designers all think about these things listed above and end up designing great products that service the needs of consumers on global markets.

Design Hypothesis Importance

When the need for new product development arises, there are particular steps that must be undertaken to make it a success. One of those steps is to come up with a design of the product. That also has its own steps contained therein that increases the chance for designers to come up with a quality product. This brings us to the concept of a design hypothesis.

When we try to bring idea to life, there are bound to be a number of assumptions that will be made. If the assumptions are wrong, the product can actually fail, which is not good for the continued existence of the company. To avoid making a wrong assumption, you have to come with a design hypothesis. Before we dive a little more into the importance of a design hypothesis, let us define what it is.

A design hypothesis is an explanation about some design aspect of your product that is not based on any available evidence. You can call it an educated guess or assumption if you will. We all make educated guesses on things we do all the time, but not all of them turn out to be correct. With that in mind, it becomes a starting point to launching an investigation that will validate what you were thinking all along.

Basically, with a design hypothesis, you are not sure how consumers will respond to your assumption. For example, you could think that changing the colour of your electronic device from red to green will make it more appealing to people, enticing them to buy it more. And by coming up with the hypothesis, you can do some research and find out if that is truly the case. This is just a simple example. In the real world, the educated guess can be more detailed and practical than that.

By now, you should be getting an idea of why a design hypothesis is important. Imagine you come up with an assumption that you believe will make the product sell more. It need not be limited to aesthetics, like in the previous example. It can be something you believe will make the product easier to use (enhance usability) as well.

Suppose you go ahead and make a change based on the whim (no testing whatsoever), what do you think can happen? The answer is that anything can happen, including the whole thing backfiring on you. If it backfires on you, then it becomes apparent that a bad decision was made.

However, by come up with a good hypothesis, you have something to test. The results can then inform your next decision, allowing you to come up with a quality product. Since many consumers do not know what they are missing until you tell them anyway, making the right assumptions will also allow you to blow their expectations out of the water. And since you are providing something your competitors are not, your product can stand out from the rest.

When a new product development project is on the way that is meant to ensure the continued existence of any company, it cannot be done haphazardly. It is not just about doing it, but also doing it right. During the design stages, there are bound to be a lot of assumptions and a design hypothesis can help you design something that will not only meet but also exceed the expectation of consumers.

Common mistakes

As humans, we are prone to making mistakes; it is how we learn, grow and ultimately succeed. But some mistakes are costlier than others and should be avoided at all costs. This is especially true when it comes to product development for start-ups and even big businesses that are global. If you want to learn what product development mistakes to avoid so your team focuses on making the best product or service that meets the needs of your customers, keep reading on.

Developing without feedback

There are many companies out there are that so confident in their ability to deliver that they develop their products in a vacuum. This means they believe they don’t need feedback from outside sources (even from the very consumers who will be using their product). The problem with this approach is that they end up creating something for themselves rather than for the consumers and launch a product nobody really wants or needs. To avoid this, try getting as much feedback as possible, even when you are in the product design or prototype stages. It might not always be good feedback, but it will at least get you back on the right track should you veer off, allowing you to create a great product that will serve the needs of consumers.

Ignoring marketplace research

Good marketing intelligence can contribute to the success of a product or service on the local or global markets. If you ignore marketing intelligence, you will be oblivious to the evolving needs of customers or the moves of your competitors. You may end up launching a product that is obsolete or already available on the market. Paying attention to marketing intelligence can help you inject your product design or prototype with value and originality that when it finally goes to market, people will find a use for it. Consumers will also be able to differentiate it from your competitor’s product and focus on its standout features.

Cramming Too Many Features at Once

Consumers have many needs that it is nearly impossible to satisfy them all – nor should you even try to. But many companies try to do this and inject their product design and prototype with so many features that its core functionality becomes blurred. Later, in the product development cycle, they might find out that their ambition has made them pack in a lot of features that are hard to implement (some of them useless even). And even if they do manage to implement the features, the possibility exists that consumers might be too overwhelmed, unable to use the product. Focus on implementing the core features of your product and implement the add-ons later.

Product Design Myths

Product design is not that hard. That is what some people think until they actually start designing a product. It seems they have bought into the myths surrounding product design. But once they start designing the product, they face mistake after mistake as they try to achieve their dream of launching a successful product on the global markets. If you want to avoid missteps that can delay or even derail your product launch, do not believe these five popular product design myths.

While it is true that simplicity is a good thing, but when it comes to product design, only making a “minimalistic” designs is not. A design that is too simplistic can do more damage than good as it can fail to meet expectations of your consumers. The damage is even greater if you manufacture a prototype from a “minimalistic” design and it fails to make an impression with potential investors – sometimes you only have one chance to wow investors. So do not conflate simplicity with minimalism.

Sure, a product design has to look good, but making a product aesthetically-pleasing is just one aspect of product design. Product design is not just about how consumers will see your product but also about how they will use it, meaning functionality is a huge aspect of the process as well. If you focus more on aesthetics and not functionality, something which is essential for maximizing user experience, you can come up with a good looking product that people will not want to use. The product might even be dangerous.

Options Increase Customer Satisfaction is another myth is the opposite of the first myth. Some people believe that the more features a product has, the more people will be pleased and pay for it. Not only can this make developing a simple prototype a nightmare, it can also make the final product overly complicated for consumers to use. Yes, more options can be a good thing, but only if they fit into the simplistic design of the product and are integrated well. Otherwise, they can increase the number of potential problems that both you and your customers can face with the product.

People who think this have never heard of product design analysis, which allows you to determine the performance of a product before it even reaches the prototype stage. Product analysis can answer some very important questions before an expensive product is manufactured. These questions include if the product is costly to manufacture, pleasing to the eyes, made from sturdy components, being constructed using the appropriate method, safe to use and eco-friendly. You can do a product analysis at any stage of the product design process.

Knowing these myths will help you avoid product design mistakes in the process of developing a product. All business owners dream of making a product or service that is a huge success when it hits global markets, but this also leads them to believe anything. Hopefully, you never believe these debunked myths ever again.

Modeling

On the journey to bring an idea to life, the initial idea needs to go through a series of steps. Each step is incremental and will lead to get the final product manufactured. One of the major steps the idea has to go through is modelling. This is the act of making a model, which is a realistic representation of the idea or concept. This model is then used to visually communicate the concept of the product.

Why do developers make models?

There is one fundamental reason: to better understand the product that is being developed. Through modeling, these following four objectives can be achieved:

  1. Models help one visualize the product as it is or as they hope it to be.
  2. Models allow one to specify the structure or behavior of the product.
  3. Models give one a template that guides them in the development of the product.
  4. Models document the decisions that have been made concerning the idea.

Product design and Modelling

Models play a major part in the idea conceptualisation and product design process. By having a realistic representation of the concept, the designer can identify problems with design. Models make it easy to spot flaws and make alterations before you get your product manufactured.

A model can also help the engineers in how best to make the product, as well as identify the best materials for making of the product.

Modelling can help the designer get feedback from potential customers. Some developers show the model of the proposed product to selected potential customers to get feedback on the design to help the final product be successful on the market.

Types of models

There are  generally two types of models. One is called CAD (computer aided design) and the other one is physical model. These two types of models have a big impact on how designer bring an idea to life. Computer Aided design is the better of the two, as it can make 3D models compared to 2D drawings. CAD can help the designer solve design problems that might not be seen or thought of through physical models.

To get the desired precision on how the product will look like or how standard components in manufacturing will fit together, designers might have to make about 20 physical models. Using CAD, the designer need only make one model of the concept. And with that one model, he or she can demonstrate the feasibility of idea or concept.

Physical models are important to the design process, nevertheless. They act as a control for the concept. They show if the product actually works or not, if the product fits the target audience, how it appears in reality with real materials and so on. So physical models can not be completely ruled out from the product development process.

Models and continuation

Models have long term importance to the development of products. Models provide the designer with the ability for continued enhancement of the product. The designer is able to come back and look at he design and look at how it can be made better for their customer. They can look are how to improve it’s manufacturing feasibility; from example, cutting production costs.

When coming up with new designs the developer can go back and look at old models and identify flaws and areas where they succeeded. After that, the can apply that knowledge to the rest of the new product development process to make a quality product.

The role of models in the design process is to take bring an idea to life, whether they are physical or rendered. This process helps the designer during the design process to come up with a more marketable product. In the end, it increases success rate once the product is launched into the market.

Back to top button
Close