It’s important to be able to break down the different steps involved in product design; these can range from the initial development of a workable idea through to being able to successfully test and market a product. There are challenges at each step of this process, from coming up with the right kind of idea, through to knowing that the product that’s going to the public is the best it can be (or at least as close as it’s probably going to be). While the shape of this process can vary depending on the type of product, there are some general steps to product design that can be observed.
1 – Coming Up with an Idea
This can be one of the most challenging parts to product design, and often doesn’t come from a moment of inspiration, but rather from painstaking analysis of an existing product or market. New products don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but can be successful by finding a small but notable way to improve a product that saves money, or that ultimately makes the end user experience more pleasurable.
2 – Intellectual Property
Before committing to a design, it’s important to check all intellectual property rules, and to ensure that you have a patent for your invention. In the UK, this means consulting the Intellectual Property Office for similar products, before applying for a patent, trade mark, or registered details that will safeguard you against any infringement.
3 – Market Research
Look at the use value of your product within a given market – what’s already available, and how can a new product enhance or provide an alternative to it? Moreover, how can a new product be placed into the rights kinds of contexts for users – try to survey and interview as many different people as you can to get a strong sense of what works, and what doesn’t.
4 – Testing
This part of the product design process can take a long time, but is worthwhile if you want to avoid cost problems later on; you want to create some kind of prototype, which might involve investing in a 3D model – testing can then involve trying out the product in various real world situations, and getting detailed feedback.
5 – Selecting a Final Design
Once you’ve gone through the testing process for your product design, you’ll need to be able to narrow down your prototype into a model that can be manufactured; cost effectiveness, and how you’re going to move into the production and distribution stage of your product’s design are important factors to consider here.
6 – Production and Distribution
It’s a good idea to get some kind of partnership in place for the production and distribution of your product if you haven’t had one for the consultancy and design stage; applied product designers can help with the manufacturing process, and can help you to save costs on factory work and logistics.
7 – Product Marketing
The final stage of product design involves creating a clear marketing plan for how you’re going to deliver a product to an audience; based on your existing testing, and on your time frame think about a product’s unique appeals, and how they can be used in terms of getting it into a niche within your target market.
How can it be made to stand out, and what other products can it be compared to or distinguished from?