The 3 Underlying Principles of All Product Design
Product design is one of the most complex parts of any business and whether you are designing a tangible product or a service, you need to consider 3 basic principles of design first.
Selling things – tangible or not – is all about persuading a consumer to part with their cash in order to win a solution. This solution could be as basic as a well-priced sandwich at lunchtime or it could be a much more complex service package involving SEO, marketing and social media.
But one solution is not always the same as another and smart consumers are always looking for the best possible results. This means that, while you might have a decent solution to a problem, if another business comes up with something better, you will quickly lose business to your competitor.
So how can you ensure that your product design is the best possible solution to the problem you are solving? The answer is to use the 3 basic design principles: efficiency, cost-effectiveness and functionality.
Manufacturing is one of the major costs of any product and working out the most efficient method is central to your production line. However, you must measure your efficiency with the results you want. If you are marketing a handcrafted product, for example, the process itself will obviously take longer but that in itself is likely to add value to your product.
On the other hand, if you are designing a fairly cheap product and want to bring costs down, finding ways to speed up the manufacturing process is much more prominent a need. There are plenty of ways to speed up your manufacturing processes and you might consider the materials you use and the processes required. Laser cutting has revolutionized product design with it’s speedy yet intricate and detailed finishes and you can look at Laser Light for more.
The price point of any product is a really important part of the design process. If you are aiming for a luxury market then cost-effective isn’t so much about how much you get for your money but what sort of quality you are getting. So, for example, if you were designing a mirror, a luxury market might expect a high quality silver and glass mirror whereas a family market might prefer a cheaper plastic. This is an important distinction as cost-effective doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
In the most basic terms, efficiency is, to quote Investopedia, “a level of performance that describes using the least amount of input to achieve the highest amount of output.” This is one of the most important aspects of business as the more efficient you can be, the more likely you are to make a profit.
Greater efficiency can be achieved through all kinds of methods from automating processes to making better use of materials. Identifying areas where you could be more efficient is essential but you must think outside the box to find the greatest gains. For example, you might assume that moral has little to do with production but over and again, companies are realizing that happy staff are more productive staff.
In product design, efficiency should be considered at every point of the process. As a business, it is your job to make sure that whatever the solution you are selling it, it will make you a profit. This means that you need to be able to manufacture and sell your products quickly and relatively easily to get the most bang for your buck. Even if you are doing a limited product, efficiency will make a difference to your profit margins.
But as well as your own efficiency, you might also consider how efficient the product is itself. Consumers have their own view of what is efficient and you should take this into account when you are designing your product. A consumer usually considers efficiency in terms of the amount of effort they have to put in. Often, this means that they are willing to pay a bit more for a product that is easier to use and for businesses, this means that a balance must exist between what is efficient for your production and what will sell best.
Which leads us nicely on to…
Functionality is all about how a consumer uses a product and which improvements could be made to make the experience even better. No matter what a product is, it must fulfil the needs of a consumer and solve their problem in the best way possible. There are several further principles that come with functionality but the main thing to consider is what the ultimate goal of the product is.
There are plenty of products that completely missed the mark when it comes to what consumers want and expect. The reason that most of these products failed is that consumers either didn’t need what they were offering or could find a much better functioning product elsewhere. In many respects, the target market will tell you what the ultimate goal of your product is and it’s important to listen, even when they aren’t saying what you expect.
To work out whether your product functionality is working or not, you must test, test, test. Once you are satisfied that the product is right, you should then ask an impartial tester for their opinion. Don’t give them any hints or tips on how to use the product, just sit back and see what they make of it. The feedback you get at this point will be essential as it will allow you to refine your product and improve it.
Product design is a really important process and some companies literally take years to decide on the best way to approach their solution. Indeed, many companies will launch regular updates as they refine their design and improve functionality. Tech companies like Apple are well-known for this approach and have even used it as part of their marketing strategy with people queueing for hours to be the first to get the new product.
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