As part of Evolution 2019 at the College of West Anglia in Kings Lynn on February 20th, NAAME and Hethel Innovation will be providing you with access to industry-leading innovators and local champions of Product Design, and be exploring questions such as “What makes a strong product design?” and “How can improving product design impact your supply chain?”

This article will explore how manufacturers are creating strong product designs and how with advancing technology, the capabilities are endless.

For ticket information, please visit https://evo2019.eventbrite.co.uk

For collaboration opportunities, please contact jsharman@hethelinnovation.com

Firstly, to understand product design, we need to understand the customer. With no knowledge of the customer and what they are expecting, it is almost impossible to create an effective product with strong design; a product design is the ability to identify an opportunity or problem being experienced by customers and develop an effective solution.

When considering developing strong product designs, businesses have begun utilising design thinking. Originally coined in the 1990’s by design agency IDEO, design thinking takes teams to take an extensive look at the customers they are creating products for, to better understand the needs being addressed. Then, following several brainstorming sessions coordinated to shortlist solutions, a set number of designs are compared against a feasibility and viability test. So, that’s how design thinking is supposed to create strong product designs. But how else can we ensure this, what makes a good product design?

Today, many designers follow a 7-point plan to create effective solutions:

  1. What is the Product Vision?

As orchestrated by those involved in the concept of design thinking, the first step of creating a strong design is to develop an understanding of the what the product is to solve, and what is its context for existence. Upon realising that, a vision is identified. This vision will help realise the conditions of your product, how the user experience is generated and the strategy at which you will achieve these.

2. What does my customer want?

The easiest way to find out what a customer wants is to ask them! Profound, right? By conducting research into your customers as well as products developed by competitors, it will provide you with a greater likelihood of fulfilling needs. This research will not only build your understanding of products but also how effectively your customer interacts with them, which essentially is what all strong designs do.

 3. How will my customer use the product?

Once the data has been gathered, it is important to capture what users want, how they think or can help user experience designers. Creating personas or drawing up empathy maps is a great way of realising trends of your users. This information can also be used in the marketing stage of your finished product.

 4. What ideas has my research created?

Once understanding your customer, your product and your competitors, ideas can then be drafted to solve the needs being created by the customer. Many tools can be used to help support the idea-generation stage, such as mind maps, storyboards and user journey mapping. Following the drafting of ideas, small structures made of paper, card and electronic drawings can be generated and reviewed.

5. I have my key ideas, now what?

Following the identification of your most suitable ideas, the team can then begin to develop the designs further. Prototyping is the most common way of evaluating ideas and can create an almost instantaneous realisation of challenges and difficulties in the larger-scale or mass manufacture stage. Prototyping also allows the user experience data to be introduced and begin to identify usage issues.

 6. Does my solution work?

So, the customer’s needs have been identified, the competitor analysis has been performed, we know what the customer wants, and we’ve made prototypes. However, before handing them over to customers, it is important to realise internal errors and test them. Once tested internally we dogfood. This makes the designers and developers test their own product to develop empathy and realise the shortfalls. Following internal testing, then the product can be moved onto the customer.

 7. The product is with the customer. Job done. Right?

Just because a product is with the customer, that does not mean the job is done. Much like a car, new models are always being developed, solving previous problems only found after strenuous wear and tear. A metric analysis should be performed throughout the design process, identifying any shifts in usage and user needs, to ensure that future designs are relevant. Communication between the customer should be encouraged and acted upon quickly to ensure that any loyalty is not lost, and future designs can be immediately improved.

 

These 7 steps will be built upon at Evolution 2019, as we bring industry leaders of multiple sectors together to discuss how we can develop better products and solve customer needs more effectively.

 

For ticket information, please visit https://evo2019.eventbrite.co.uk

For collaboration opportunities, please contact jsharman@hethelinnovation.com