As product designers, we believe in good product design for its own sake. It is our passion, after all! But why should you care? Why is investing in good product design good for your business?
1. Ease of Use
Good design places ergonomics and ease of use at the heart of development.
If you’re designing a handle, you want it to sit comfortably in your hand. But what happens when that handle is being used in a dangerous environment? Can you still hold it comfortably when wearing safety gloves?
Good design takes into account all the details about how the product will be used:
• What is the user using the product for?
• How are they using it?
• Where are they when using it?
• How old is a typical user? What age range is it for?
• Will the user be wearing special clothing (e.g. safety goggles) that might affect its use?
• Is it robust enough to withstand repeated use – or misuse?
All these things – and more – can affect the product design. For example, a good product designer will ensure that touch-screen control pads that are likely to be used outside in cold weather can be operated even when the user is wearing gloves. If your product designer isn’t asking these questions, perhaps it is time to talk to one who will!
2. Good Looks
It’s got to look great on the shelf, right? You need to give the consumer a reason to choose your product over its shelf-mate. Good design can do this. Every time the user gets your gizmo out of his pocket, it’s a potential advertising opportunity targeting his peer group. Have you done enough to make his friends ask ‘what’s that? Where did you get it from?’ Good design should inspire desire in potential customers and give your product competitive advantage. How can your design give your product the edge over its rivals?
3. Brand Identity
Apple’s iconic design of its iPod, iPhone and iPad products has defined that brand, played a major role in ensuring its enduring appeal, and spawned thousands of copycat designs. As Apple’s success clearly demonstrates, if you get the design right, design can be a major part of your brand identity.
It is really important that the design of your product articulates your brand identity. The look and feel of the product inevitably communicates values about your values – if the customer can connect with this, then this will help to drive sales and customer satisfaction.
At its most basic, this is about a decision to choose an obviously recycled paper with roughly pulped feel to it for your welcome letters or packaging in order to emphasise your product and company’s environmental credentials. Or perhaps using a heavy weight paper with a high-gloss finish if your product is a high-end technology product.
How is your brand identity articulated through the design of your product? Is your design going to create the pull-through to drive sales and, ultimately, increase revenue?
4. Cost optimisation
Good design isn’t only about ergonomics and the external aesthetic.
Good design is also about the choice of materials, the construction and assembly methods, and the optimisation of resources in a way that protects the environment and reduces production costs.
Are you confident you are producing your product at the best possible price?
Consider and question every function and material choice: what else could you use? Are you able to minimise unnecessary costs without taking anything away from the product functionality or its ergonomics?
Whether or not you are outsourcing product design or product development operations, it is absolutely vital to work closely with your designer. They will be able to suggest alternatives and discuss the pros and cons of each material choice.
Computer modelling will help you to determine the best ways to optimise your material choices and production – and, once you get to the stage of working prototype and the first small-batch production run, you will have an opportunity to test and make revisions. Of course, the equation isn’t as simple as weighing cost alone.
Optimising performance while minimising production costs is likely to be the most important factor in determining whether your business turns a profit – unless your sales and marketing efforts are remarkably ineffective. It is here that good design has a decisive role to play in determining your profit margin.
5. Expanding Product Reach
Good design can even extend the reach of a product and open up new markets. We love, for example, how TATA reinvented the water purifier. Its TATA SWACHH is designed to be operated without electricity. This rethink has extended out the reach of a water purifier from major towns and cities to regions without a mains electricity supply – ensuring more people can benefit from clean drinking water.
Where are you in your product design process? Would you like to get a second opinion on an existing product design? Would you like professional help getting your initial designs off the drawing board? Or would you like to talk through how your brand values translate into a design?
We’re here to help.
Fill in the Project Planner today to get started on your product redesign project.