A product designer has designed most things we use in our daily lives without a moment’s thought from cutlery and chairs to baths and bookcases. They may also design more specialist products such as medical, electronics, or telecommunications equipment.
Product design refers to the design process of any product – whether furniture and household appliances to even digital, virtual products as well as software apps and websites. Product design and development is, therefore, the process of creating a new product, which is then sold within the retail marketplace, is made by referring to what is already in existence, or what needs to be improved upon.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
‘the process of creating or improving a product by learning what consumers want and examining similar products that are already available.’
From concept or idea, through to actual product development, it is a journey that involves much intricate design and technical stages. Put simply, product design is the process of identifying an opportunity in the marketplace, clearly delineating the idea, and then developing a realistic outcome for the solution with real-life products.
Creative thinking, therefore, becomes the method for effective resolution of problems; the initial concept becomes the final product. Product design is the imagining and creating of objects, which then morph into mass production. This encompasses the physical as well as the conceptual. As Eric Eriksson (Psychologist) claimed, “product design is the whole process.”
When designers are in the process of either coming up with new solutions for existing products or begin with the innovation of a new product, there are a lot of analytical procedures to go through.
There are problem-solving approaches that need to be addressed in the improvement or development of products. Product designers always have to remember they are designed for real-life people. The primary key to excellent product design is an understanding of the end-user customer – the person for whom the product is being created.
So, it is essential in their research processes they ask themselves: what problem are they trying to solve? Who has this problem? What do we want to achieve? As a result, product designers work with engineers, model makers, marketing, sales, and the product management team. Their specific role is to identify particular user problems or objectives and then collaboratively work with their creative team to find a solution.
Their tactics may include; user research, data analysis, system design, usability tests, to mention but a few. The product designers’ aim is the improve the way in which we live and how our products work, as well as trying innovative designs to lower costs.
From strategy to execution, it is the innovative, creative thinking, sophisticated scientific design, progressive development, and cutting-edge engineering that product designers need to employ to keep human life advancing into the future.
The Design Process
The product design process includes sketching and prototyping, using 3D and computer-aided design software programs (CAD) to aid their ideas. The designers have to take into consideration the production costs, manufacturing processes, and regulations.
Product development aims to take the initial product design that one step further. Into the marketplace. Providing what people really want. From primary conception, the idea is to take the product, with the collaborative forces of both designers and engineers, to market.
Many product development companies focus on separating the product design and development, but there is a general move towards looking more holistically at the overall process from beginning to end. Therefore, it is not unusual to move from the conceptual design stages, with consultation from the client about their product desires, through to transportation of these ideas into prototypes which are ultimately refined with testing, and then the move to the marketplace.
It’s an exciting process seeing an initial product concept slowly morph into a real-life user-friendly product. Product development includes the complete product development cycle by getting the product into the marketplace.
Complete product development processes involve the marketing, sales, and after-sales support teams, after production. This process also involves market research, analysis, testing, logistics, distribution, and launch management.
However exciting it may be to have a new product; its success in the marketplace is a dangerous thing. There is a high risk of failure for your product to attract customers or the attention you believe it deserves.
It’s an excellent idea for you to use professionals who are skilled in the area of product management for either the product design side, the product management side, or, ideally, both.
For new products, product development is seen as essential for growth.
Product Design Statistics
Because of insatiable consumer appetite, strong worldwide competition, changing consumer behavior, and ever-advancing technology, investment in new products has proved essential – no business can afford to sit on its laurels.
The following statistics (McKinsey Global Institute) speak for themselves:
- Only 4 out of 7 products go into the product development stage.
- Only 1 out of 7 product ideas yield a successful product.
- Launched products have a failure rate of 25% to 45%.
It’s been proved that companies who have a more structured approach to product development, possibly with the support and infrastructure of a professional product development company, are more likely to survive.
Well-tailored strategies for product development, enable companies to organize their product planning, understand their customers, accurately plan and use resources. Professionals can combine the elite of design thinking, customer research, strategy, and leading-edge technology and can bring to your company innovative solutions with amazing results.
With relationships across most industries, technologies, and regions, your ideas can have new perspectives brought to them by experts who can be objective and yet still passionate. You want your products to be brought up-to-date with what your customers/users wish to – this is your biggest challenge to survive in the marketplace.
Perhaps it is time for you to seek the advice of experts in the field of product design and development to bring your products into the future with their scientific design process and advanced software processes?
Keep your eye on the future and ensure you are delivering new products people want and love.
Image Credits: Maurizio Vele