20 min. read
Customers today are picky about their products and want it to be different from others, making them stand out in the middle of a thousand individualities. Buyers seek to get products that can add a personal touch to the product, something that purely indicated their uniqueness.
Every product that is manufactured by any brand is supposed to have a differentiating physical characteristic and features which will make it attractive to customers, this characteristic is commonly known as “DESIGN”.
Products design, therefore, is all about building a product that satisfies their needs and provides value to them. Products designer is greatly useful when it particularly targets a specific customer and the solution developed exceeds its expectations.
For building a product as per the consumer’s preferences, designing is the most important “feature.” Getting personalized designed products has become a trend – it’s what helps them to set themselves apart from others and dominate over competitors.
Let’s take a deep dive and dig out the important aspects of products designer. In this article, I’ll cover basic to advanced principles and approaches to help you design exact products as specified by the end-user.
What is the products design?
Products design means adding great value to a product by ensuring that its designing and layout is attractive to the customer.
In assembled words, Products designing is a link connecting customer’s requirements and product attributes, thus providing an exact solution to the customer with value.
A good design can only satisfy a needy customer and enlights the purpose of the product to its market. The actual purpose of a good products designer is to satisfy its customer by meeting their actual needs or expectations. Which enhances the competitiveness of the brand; products design can be said completely dedicated to the customer from start to end.
The solution delivered aims to be a better product that competes on value rather than price.
As per Schroeder (1993 pp 54) “ Products designer is crucial to the survival of most firms. While a few firms experience little product change, most firms must continually revise their products. Products design is seldom the responsibility of the operations function but operations are greatly affected by new product introduction and vice versa. Products design is a prerequisite for production. The result of the Products designer is transmitted to operations as product specifications; these specifications state the desired characteristics of the product and allow production to proceed.”
Designing new products leads to shorter life cycles for the products. New products design must be introduced as an advance and replacement of outdated designs.
Focusing on Chase et al (2006 pp 111) “The design of a product differs depending on the industry; for example for consumer products, understanding consumer preference, market testing and prospective products are very important activities. Companies that specialize in the design of products have highly developed processes to support the activities needed for industry.”
A decision of core competency is the foremost for the brand to properly design a product that attracts as well as exceeds the expectations.
A core competency – the only thing which can help a brand stand out and perform better than other competitors in the market. The core competency is useful for firms to design important products.
As the life cycle of the product becomes shorter, designing a new product is critical. New product design must be introduced as an advanced and replacement of the outdated design.
Nigel et al (2007 pp 120) state that “ Good design also helps businesses connect strongly with their customers by anticipating their real needs, this, in turn, gives them the ability to set themselves apart in increasingly tough markets. The use of the design in generating new ideas and turning them into realities allows organizations to set the pace in their markets.”
Bennett et al (1988 pp46) “The design of a fast-food restaurant, for example, will comprise elements such as scheduling operations, inventory system, quality control, etc.”
Hill (2000 pp65) states that “All organizations have a range of products at a given time.”
Products designer should balance the overall development purpose of the firm as well as attract and provide the best services and satisfaction to the user, it should be beneficial for both the ends. This is not an easy task to meet all the expectations within a specified budget
Period and costing of manufacture both need to be kept to a minimum as possible and new products design should reflect it. These two terms are interlinked with each other.
A low grade of raw material may require slow processing speeds and thus generate high labor costs, a simple design solution in comparison to complex offers unskilled labor and employment rather than skilled workers whose payments are high.
Thus, the need for complex yet low costing design roars as no customer gets attracted to simple designs.
Product design consists of understanding, imagining, creating, and validating objects.
Understanding the needs and specifications of the end-users is the basic and foremost part of product design.
After the requirement is known, there comes the part where everything depends on your imagination and creation that can be the answer to each problem of the user.
And the end part is to develop a solution that surpasses physical expectations as well as functionalities and validating it to the end-user.
“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”
— Dr. Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover
In other words, we can describe product design as the process used to blend user requirements with business goals to help companies to maintain the consistency of successful products.
The process is the holistic approach to developing a new product from start to end. This covers everything from doing market research, identifying problems, development of the designing informed solutions—and everything in between.
Product design helps the companies to build products sustainable for longer-term business needs.
The whole concept of designing a product revolves around analyzing and delivering a problem-solving approach to tackle the problems, improving the lives of the end-user. It’s about understanding the need and delivering an exact solution for it.
Product design applies to almost every industry, even includes medical devices, tableware, jewelry, sports and leisure, food preservation appliances, furniture, accessories, etc. It considers production cost, the manufacturing processes, and the regulations.
The key to successful product design is a keen understanding of problems for what the end-user wants the solution. Product design is an attempt to solve real problems for real people by using both skills and knowledge.
Importance of product design
Product Design is a fundamental part of rooting the business. It’s the future shaper of your establishment from the origin and can be a great determinant of its sustainment.
A company’s name, website, or logo is not enough for company branding. Undoubtedly, these things play key roles in marketing strategies but it doesn’t affect anyway if your product isn’t getting sold.
To make your product look attractive to the customers and tempt them to buy, your product needs to be well designed, including the packing.
Packing is the first thing consumers get to see about your product and it has to be impressive at the first sight because generally, consumers buy the product depending on the product design when they have lots of options for the same product.
And in today’s era, we have no shortage of options. Thus, to bring a spotlight to your product in the market, make sure to seriously consider the designing, packing, and overall look of the product.
Those of us living in the First World are faced with many options most of the time. With the store full of hundreds of options for the same product, what will differentiate your product from others and grab consumer’s attention & make a successful entrance into the shopping basket? The answer to this is the product’s design.
We live in a society where product design is an essential need. Though our needs for products are still basic we all desire a different story.
A good product design checks both requirements of the following consumer: Needs and Desire. Product design is considered a success when it is effective in explaining and communicating its means to the market and also that particular consumer.
Consumers desire the product to match the criteria based on economical, ecological, and technological preferences. So the business needs to listen to the needs and desires of the consumer and provide the exact product creatively and innovatively.
A brand can not exist without any service or product offering. For the success of any brand, the communication of its product with the
requirements of the potential customer are the foremost necessity.
In simple terms, product designing is reshaping the appearance and feel of the product as per the requirements and imagination of the consumer. It is a basic setup of the features and benefits of the product that attracts its chosen audience.
Below are some inspiring points to encourage the importance of product design:
- Successful product design attracts the new customer and thus provide an edge over other competitors
- It is also important because it brings together three important issues, the concept, the package, and the process.
- It brings in all three concepts: the basic structure, the packing, and the process.
- Good design brings profit and goodwill to business
- It eases up the consumer life by offering easy to use desired services in desired shapes
- Good product design is important in replacing old boring designs.
Importance of Product Design For Marketing
When your designed product is extraordinary and praise-worthy, marketing becomes simple and easy.
Practically, customers are attracted by what they see. This concept is completely driven by the way the product is designed.
Marketing involves advertising the quality, deals, and importance of the products to the potential consumer. It is to bring the product to their awareness and convince them of the quality. A good product design completes half of this process.
Below mentioned are several reasons that product design can be important to a brand from a Marketing aspect:
- While comparing with the competitors in the market, consumers will choose your successful product design rather than over your competitor’s product
- Directly results in driving more traffic from the targeted audience
- In any industry, designing plays a major role in defining efficiency
- Product design brings your company a better acceptability and brand awareness
- Pushes-up your brand’s goodwill and identity
- Differentiate your brand as well as your products from the products of other brands
- Boost sales and awareness of your products or services
- Fewer customer complaints and greater customer loyalty
- Ability to create new and advance products and services and introduce new markets
- Brands investing in product design and involving the customer’s requirements in the designing process have higher ROI.
Influence of Product Design on Consumer Behaviour
Product design is known to influence consumer behaviour greatly. According to the research, your product’s design is the particular reason that contributes to over 80% of why your product is chosen over any other.
Product design is known to influence consumer behavior heavily. These brands offer features completely dedicated to customer satisfaction. Customers love to have such customer-friendly nature products.
The effectiveness of the design lends customers a reason to purchase the product from you and not from your competitors. A well-designed product helps you stand out from competitors.
We often notice customers willing to pay any written amount for well-designed products that benefit them with better usability, advanced functionality, and improved aesthetics.
The Process of Product Design
Now, as we have understood what product design is and how it’s important in a business, it’s now the time to define the design process. The design process is a series of significant steps that product teams follow during the creation of the product from the first step to the last step. Having a solid well-structured list of steps to conduct a process is helpful for 2 main reasons: It helps to stay focused & on track and helps to stay on schedule and complete tasks on time.
“What is exactly a process?” A process may be defined as “a series of necessary steps, actions or operations used to make a thing and bring about desired results: a manufacturing process”. Similarly, defining a design process can be stated as a sequence of finding problems, researching & analyzing, and solving steps to develop an appropriate design solution for the given person.
But if you’re thinking about a universal design process to encounter and fit for every project is quite impossible for practitioners. Yes, if you are considering a silky general flow of steps for designing a new process is possibly describable.
Design activities are challenging, complicated, and mind-bending. There must be clear explanations of steps to plan and integrate, and the whole process should be rationally prepared considering scientific laws, so as to achieve the aimed design successfully.
As we discussed, every organization may follow different plans and strategies to reach their ideal design, but the point of consideration to achieve a successful design remains the same for every brand. This point of considerations are:
- Discussing and sharing plans for new product launching with the team, brainstorming;
- Defining the needs of the consumer and plan solutions, eliminating the problems;
- Building up secured and strict product requirements based on technical specifications;
- Dividing up the product implementation process into important steps;
- Testing and modifying the solution that has been created after following all the steps on the basis of satisfying customer’s needs and increasing user experience.
In order to remain implemented in the above mentioned 5 phases, we have outlined the universal steps of the product design process below. The product design process includes such steps:
Concept Generation and Strategies:
One of the most important phases of product design is actually done before even starting designing. These are the steps which should be made even before the whole product designing process and planning starts. This may sound unclear and fuzzy right now but it’s highly important to define the existence of the product and who will be benefited from its use. These questions should be analyzed in-depth to target the right audience and design a product that settles their needs and insights.
How can you make a successful product design without understanding the need for its development? How do you work on a project whose overall target is not clear? It’s the time when the product designing team should have or get a clear idea of product vision.
Designing a product needs a clear vision that directs the designing team with the right outcome. Defining a vision is like understanding the essence of the product— a must known information that should be known by the designing team in order to launch a successful product. Vision helps you understand “ What and why are you trying to build a product”. It also helps state what is not to be built. While crafting products, vision helps to set clear boundaries.
Mostly, the designing team gets ideas from customers through carrying out some interviews and questionnaires, or being active on customer’s forum and listening to their problems related to a product on a daily basis, or talking to the people around.
What do you think, Product vision is full picture? No. The other half which completes the picture is strategies. It defines the product journey. Strategy and vision help you define the destination – the final goal. It’s also necessary to set goals so at the final stage you can accurate your designed product with the final outcome.
Reaching to the targeted markets, gaining an aimed numbered profit, or a decided number of personas – these are the measures that evaluate how you performed and what changes are necessary to reach success. This is also necessary for Product Designers to know the results of their work.
With the product vision defined, product discovery that significantly includes users, as well as market research, provides the other half of the circle for designing great designs. To finalize the occasion of victory, run insightful research before making any product decisions. Remember, to succeed you must tighten up your roots first or the structure falls before completing.
No-doubts about your brand having the best ideal product but making the research is necessary to check whether the targeted market is ready for your product and needs it. It is foremost necessary to conduct a detailed study of existing market trends and requirements. Therefore, you need to conclude what is currently ruling in the market, and is there anything identical to your product concept. For this, you must know about what is currently ruling the market and how you can differentiate your product from others along with providing better features. A strategy to tackle the identical product and emphasize your product in the market comes after precise market research.
Good market research is essential to designing a product with a great user experience. Conducting market research enables you to acknowledge what your users are actually in need of.
Good research and knowledge lead your product with a new design, thus it saves your brand from spending time and capital again to make major new changes after several periods of the launch. Additionally, solid research provides you with a strong base to sell your ideas before stakeholders.
With the ideal product idea in mind, you may feel inclined to leapfrog ahead and start production as early, but surely become misled if you forget to validate your idea first.
Validating the product ensures the creation of the product which people will find beneficial and pay for. It clarifies the scenario of not wasting the time, money, and effort on an idea that won’t sell.
Get as keen and real details of the market or people you are designing for. If possible, carry out extensive studies to design a user persona for your proposed products like;
Conduct User Research
As creators of a product that is completely dedicated to people, our responsibilities lie first and foremost with the people’s problems, needs, and expectations. If we don’t know our consumer and their needs, how can we create great products for them and make them buy?
By understanding the consumers of the product and their exact expectations, you can get a more sheer perspective of the facilities that your solution should provide. This ultimately sums up your product to be valuable in every term.
“Life’s way too short and valuable to build something nobody wants”
Defined user research validated the creation of a successful product that improves user experience. Conducting user research provides you with an exact list of features to add to your solution. As it comes to product research, brands have different ways and tactics to choose from.
A user-focused approach ultimately differs from the product design from self-focused design. A self-focused approach often relies on the beliefs and projecting your behavioral solution. Instead, the user-focused approach helps develop a product through objective results based on how users would use and interact with the product dedicatedly developed for their purpose.
Collecting information through direct user interviews is a well-known user research technique that can give the researcher a bunch of rich information about the needy criteria of the user. This technique contributes a big part to researchers, as users need and feel both are considered at the top before a product is designed and released. One to one interviews are typically conducted for 30 minutes to an hour. A researcher asks questions to the user based on product development. With the end of interviews, it’s important to synthesize and analyze the data to identify insights in the form of patterns.
Things to consider while user interview:
- Try to conduct physical interviews
If you have a choice, in-person interviews are better than telephonic or web-based interviews. One-to-one personal conversations are preferable because they provide much more behavioural data than remote ones. This helps gain additional views by observing body language and listening to verbal cues (tone, inflection, etc.).
In-person, it’s easy to connect to the user. It’s necessary to connect to the problems, feel their needs to design a product justifying them and needs.
- Make a list of questionnaires
There’s a psychology to asking questions that aren’t relevant to the purpose or based on the aimed topic. It’s easy to make a questionnaire relating to the purpose topic to get valuable and honest replies from our users.
All questions you ask during the interview should be selected according to the set goal. Questionnaires should be made as simple and easy to understand, so when you ask users about the question, they don’t have to spend minutes understanding the question. It should be quick, striking, and easy to answer. A wrong set of questions can not only nullify the benefits of the interview session, but also lead product development down the wrong path.
- An experienced interviewer
A skilled interviewer knows how to make the user comfortable and how to carry the interview in a lenient manner. Experienced interviewers know the tricks and tactics to take talks in-depth and get the details. A question asked in the wrong tone or manner can completely lose user interest in answering the questions, this can be avoided by the skilled interviewer.
Surveys and questionnaires get the company with larger volumes of data and responses, which opens up the opportunity for more detailed analysis. Apart from commonly using online surveys for quantitative research, they also can be used for qualitative research.
Open-ended questions like “What do you think about the product?” or “How is it working for you?”, get users to share their individual experience and point-of-views. This kind of quantitative as well as qualitative information helps companies in numerous ways.
Though online surveys are quite affordable, the downside of the method is there is no direct interaction with the respondent, thus you can’t get in detail. The method lacks personal interaction and detailed information.
Things to consider while conducting online surveys:
- Keep it short
Keep the questions short and simple. Add questions that can be answered with one word or one sentence. This doesn’t stop the respondent to get bored in between the form fillings and leave the site.
Conduct Marketing Research
Being an entrepreneur, bringing something to market solo, or introducing as a startup gets quite challenging, as anybody or everybody would be doing or trying to do so.
Gaining true market research can also get quite challenging but not completely complex. Generally, the person introducing a startup has an idea of the sector or industry but if not, the person must approach industry experts and get an understanding.
Look to understand the nature of this sector and the competitors. You cannot ignore competitors at any cost if you want to build a great product and brand as well. To be competitive, you need to know what pror\ducts already exist in the market, how they perform, and what functionality they are providing at present. By understanding the present feature availability, you get a clear idea of what features adding can differentiate your products from the existing products. That’s the reason why conducting market research is a crucial component of the product design process. Your ultimate goal should be to design a solution that has a competitive advantage and advance features.
Competitive research is a keen analysis of competitor products and the presentation of the results of the collected data in a comparative way. Research helps product teams understand the market as well as industry standards and identify opportunities for your ideal product design in a given market segment.
The competitor is a company sharing the same goals and products as you. There are majorly two types of competitors:
- Direct competitors
- Direct competitors resemble those whose products compete for head to head or on the same level as your value proposition
- Indirect competitors
- Indirect competitors resemble those whose products do not exactly provide features as your product but targets the same customer base without offering the same value proposition.
Tip to be considered while conducting competitive research
Make a list of competitors
Start making a list of direct as well as indirect competitors way before conducting a comprehensive research. This provides a brief of competitors as well as their areas of advertising and working.
After research and investigation, the product team must make sense of the data it’s collected. The research should aim to draw insights from the data collected during the product research phase. Capturing, organizing, and making inferences about what users want or think. This should help UX designers to understand why they want, think, or require that.
Ideation is an exciting process when facilitated successfully. The goal is to generate a large number of ideas, most practical and innovative ones— ideas that potentially inspire newer, better ideas — that the team can then cut down into the best.
It’s the phase when team members brainstorm on a range of creative ideas that address the project targets. Ideation is the core of the creative product design process. During this phase, it’s critical to formulate product concepts based on the user’s needs and business model identified during product research. The process consists of creating ideas as well as validating the most important design assumptions which can be successful in fulfilling target-users’ needs.
The ideation stage uses creativity and innovations to develop a solution. By getting into the unbiased ideas, the designing of the product can be made contradicting the usual methods of solving problems to find better, more elegant, and satisfying solutions to problems that affect a user’s experience.
How Ideation Will Help You:
- Ask the right questions and create innovative designs
- Step beyond the obvious solutions and therefore increase the innovation potential of your solution.
- Bring together the perspectives and strengths of team members.
- Uncover unexpected areas of innovation.
- Create volume and variety in your innovation options.
- Get obvious solutions out of your heads, and drive your team beyond them.
Sagar Panchal is the CEO of SetuBridge, a creative agency specialized in Web development, mobile app development, e-commerce etc. He has many years of experience within the web design industry and has a passion for the latest web technologies and design trends. He loves to write on technology & passionately promotes digital best practice.