Great Product Design – how it all starts

Posted on 30/11/2011 by Chadanuch Pomankul

Last week we wrote that great product design is always teamwork. But how is an insanely great product designed? What are the different steps necessary to come up with an amazing new product?

Today we start the first of a series of four articles that show you how to design a great product. The first step in Product Design is a thorough Product Analysis.

“Analysis” might sound a bit academic. Not creative it all.  It might be surprising. After all, most people think of designers as creative geniuses who get up at 11:00, come up with amazing designs and will go partying at night to get more inspiration for the next day. But that’s not the way it is. Outstanding Product Design is hard work. Really hard work.

More surprisingly even, it is the result of four formalized stages, which will be applied to every design project, no matter what.

  1. Product Analysis
  2. Concept Design
  3. Engineering
  4. Prototype Manufacture and Final Documentation

Today we’ll have a closer look at the Product Analysis stage.

Say we are asked to design a protection case for a mobile phone, the kind that is popular for Apple iPhones and other new smart phones. Our first step is for the whole team to sit together to analyze and discuss the product from a design perspective.

Our team will come up with a set of design criteria that are essential for the product to be successful. This includes, but is not limited to, ergonomics, styling, safety, relative cost, life cycle analysis manufacturability and much more. Typically our clients will let us know before to whom they want to sell their product. Some may target female consumers, some male consumers. Sometimes the target is US consumers, sometimes Chinese. The target customer will affect the products design requirements.

Having established the design criteria we move on to competitor benchmarking. In this step we take a close look which competitors you will face when entering the market with your new product. We will investigate competitors design and how they position themselves in the market. The market trend evaluation and target leader research complete the analysis and provide further details which are necessary to feed into the concept design stage that will be explained in detail in the next article.

During the design attitude analysis we investigate how competitors position themselves in the market from a design perception point of view. Are they using a contemporary design or do they adapt conservative styling? Is the design simple and clean or complicated with lots of features? These are questions that help us to define in which design tangent your product will fit. This and some of our other research activities focus on rationalizing these emotive design related factors in a way that clients can contribute to strategic design decision making.

After a detailed Product Analysis and a thorough discussion with clients it’s time to move onto the actual design – the concept design stage.


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