You may have the best idea in the world, but unless you follow the tried and tested principles of product design, it’s unlikely to become the successful, marketable item you envisage. Here, we take you through the key stages you must take into account when designing a new product:
Strategic enquiry and orientation
While, as a designer, you may think the focus would be simply on designing the product, increasingly designers are being asked to get involved in overall product strategies as a way of providing clear guidance and context from the outset. This work generally takes place before a briefing document is created for the product, and as a way to decide whether any market research needs to be carried out.
The briefing document
It’s important to clearly set out the targets for the product which is being designed. That way you, clients and employees or outside staff and agencies, have clear goals to work towards. The briefing document is the first step in the process.
Rather like a business plan that you would present to your bank, it usually encompasses the main ideas and costs, typically consisting of three main sections – a marketing brief which will describe the product and its positioning in existing markets, as well as any consumer research data; a technical part, which will outline product specifications, costs and necessary standards; and a commercial section, which will give an overview of sales and distribution plans.
Any good product should solve a problem, plug a gap or make life better for the consumer, while also offering key advantages for the manufacturer. To make sure a new product is meeting these remits, product designers will typically sketch out their ideas along with creating proof of principle (POP) models, together with computer-aided design layouts. New technology, such as 3D printing, is making this step easier for product designers to complete, and potential backers and consumers to envisage the new product.
Concept design and development
Any ideas taken from the generating stage, which are deemed by both designers and clients to have potential, are now advanced, with more detailed sketches, renderings and models being produced to describe aesthetic and technical specifications. From there, a smaller section of concepts will emerge, which will be refined even further, with greater emphasis placed on 3D and CAD work.
Earlier stages will have now narrowed the focus of work to one single design proposal. The idea of the design development stage is to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s so the intent for production can be spelled out. Every detail of the proposed product will be laid out so that those involved in the engineering and marketing of the product are happy. A finished model is produced to depict in every way what the finished product will look like and how it will work.
The final phases
From here, depending on a company’s development resources, the designers will usually be asked to oversee the process through to development, making any prototypes, designing parts and making sure specifications are met. It is at this step that extensive prototyping and testing will take place to try to ensure smooth production processes. A product designer will work closely with technical and marketing teams, making any modifications which become necessary, in order to finally bring their product to market.
About the author: Bill began learning his artisan skills in Australia 30 years ago before opening his studio back in the 90’s. The studio creates bespoke products and interiors for individuals and companies across the world. Bill can be found in his London studio at Bill Amberg Studio.